- Plans & Pricing
Since the 1980s, the scientific concept known as chaos theory has been applied in the business world to help guide management decision-making in the face of unpredictability. A foundational piece of the model holds that small errors left unaddressed will become monstrous within complex, dynamic environments.
For eCommerce brands of any size, an array of challenges exist at the intersection of inventory, order management, and warehouse fulfillment, and even the slightest disorganization has the potential to devolve into bedlam. To counter this, the establishment and maintenance of a warehouse control system is mission critical.
There is no uniform guide to achieving it, however. The processes used by a frozen food purveyor will be vastly different than those of a jewelry designer, and neither will resemble the operations of a furniture store. Yet, despite these differences, all need tight control over their inventory to be successful.
At SkuNexus, control is at the center of the management software solutions we design. Helping eCommerce businesses take, and keep, control over all their backend operations is a core element of what we do.
Here, we present 5 crucial tools any merchant can use to gain and maintain decisive warehouse inventory control.
We discussed recently the basics of efficient warehouse layout design. Preferably, a merchant has a blank slate and can draw up the inventory warehouse schematic before product #1 has arrived at receiving, but in the likely event of an existing floor plan, any positive changes can help foster improved control.
A holistic approach is necessary here - how the warehouse floor is configured needs to be determined by the totality of your processes. To that end, you must assess every single warehouse procedure, piece of equipment, the number of employees, et al. This critical analysis will yield insights and give clarity to the issues that need to be fixed.
By optimizing flow (of goods, employees, machinery), a merchant reduces traffic jams, increases worker productivity, and lowers the likelihood of accidents and human error. All of this leads to more organization and better control at every stage of warehouse operations.
While each business will have its own way of doing things, the processes involved in inventory warehouse management are standardized. By creating well-defined workflows for each one, you can implement procedures to ensure accuracy and regimentation throughout your operations.
Cycle counting is a method of counting certain products on a regular basis to help companies confirm inventory levels reflected in their inventory management software (IMS). Whereas annual (semi-annual, quarterly) physical inventory counts involve shutting down the warehouse, the limited scope of cycle counts allows businesses to save money by performing them during normal working hours.
Several methods of cycle counting exist, but the most common ones involve counting the highest-in-value items to the company (revenue-generating, most frequently ordered, etc.). Other options include conducting counts for random SKUs scattered around the warehouse or focusing on a specific area. Whatever methods a company feels comfortable using is entirely up to them.
Regardless of the strategy used, the ultimate goal of cycle counting is to identify and rectify discrepancies between data and physical products, and above all else, maintain control of inventory.
Critical While cycle counts are one way to measure how well you are doing with warehouse inventory management processes, a number of KPIs can also be tracked.
Technology has fueled a type of retail (eCommerce) that exceeds the limits of what humans can do (open 24/7, limitless capacity, growing at scale, etc.), and it requires additional technology to properly manage it.
With shoppers viewing your products on a variety of platforms, orders being routed for fulfillment from any number of sales channels, and customer service requests coming from disparate social media, the need for accurate, real-time inventory information has never been more acute.
Warehouse inventory control is exceedingly difficult to achieve without a warehouse management system and an inventory management system communicating with each other. Working in concert, the WMS will focus on the locations and any/all movement of inventory throughout the warehouse as the IMS monitors inventory levels. Each provides critical data to the merchant to aid in everything from space utilization today to demand planning a year from now.
SkuNexus designs warehouse, inventory, and a host of other integrated management systems to provide solutions across the entire eCommerce backend. If you would like to get a closer look at what our software can do for your business, please schedule a demo.
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