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Tips & Tricks for Managing Inventory across Multiple Warehouses

Yitz Lieblich
December 19, 2019

As any retailer will tell you, managing inventory in one warehouse is hard. Managing inventory across multiple warehouses can be downright daunting! Don’t let this fear stop you from scaling your business. 

Accurate inventory counts are essential for any business, across all industries. Currently, most retailers will tell you that maintaining this information is the bane of their existence. But it doesn’t have to be, and getting this right is the key to fixing your inventory management system.

Hopefully you realized a while ago that the pen and paper system is not going to work for a growing business. However, too often people rely on basic spreadsheets, and ad-hoc warehouse management systems. 2020 is as good a time as ever to switch to an order management system (OMS), and if you already have one… make sure it’s the right one! With an OMS, tracking inventory in real-time will be much easier, and will make the task less daunting.

First things first. In order to get started on tracking inventory across multiple locations, you need to accurately track inventory in one location.

 

Here are five basic steps when receiving inventory:

  1. Everything that enters the warehouse needs to be entered into your OMS/WMS
  2. The OMS/WMS should assign a location in the warehouse for the item to be placed.
  3. Both the item and the warehouse location should be given a barcode (QR code, etc.)
  4. When the item is packed away in the warehouse, both the item and warehouse location should be scanned.
  5. Anything removed from its location needs to be scanned into the system. If it is removed for an order then the scanned item is associated with an order. If it is just to reorganize the warehouse, the item needs to be scanned again together with the barcode of its new warehouse location.

Your employees are the key to improving your warehouse management. Training your employees to follow this system religiously, is as important as having an OMS system that makes doing these things fast and simple!

 

The next step to efficient multiple-warehouse management is ensuring your eCommerce site is fully integrated with your OMS (or Warehouse Management System). You need all orders to be pushed into your OMS in real-time in order to update inventory counts. If information is not updated in real time, you may run into a problem where a customer will purchase something online, and when the order comes to fulfillment you find that the item is no longer available. This problem compounds the more warehouses you have. Customers don’t like receiving notice that an item they have ordered is out of stock.

 

Once you have the above two steps humming along for one warehouse, you are ready to scale to multiple warehouses or to BOPIS (buy online pickup in store). But, don’t open up the next warehouse, implement the above procedures and think you will be fine. The OMS in each additional warehouse needs to share information between all your other warehouses. If that information is not shared you will run into the following problems:

  1. Multiple systems 
  2. Inventory Levels not matching
  3. Orders being fulfilled multiple times
  4. Overstocks/Understocks

 

The way to ensure you do not run into this problem is to use the same OMS across all inventory locations and to have all inventory information easily accessible to all locations.  You would need to add one more step to your above 5 steps --- choose warehouse. This will allow you to choose the physical warehouse that will receive the inventory.

Ideally, with this type of system in place, commerce operations should now become more efficient and less error prone. When the eCommerce site sends an order to the OMS, the OMS will choose which warehouse should fulfill the order. When an order is fulfilled, inventory quantities will be updated across all warehouses.

If you are reading this and thinking that your current OMS is not able to do this, have no fear. There is an order management system that is able to do this and more! SkuNexus is actually an inventory, order, and warehouse management system all rolled into one.

In SkuNexus, managing inventory across multiple locations is not only doable...it’s easy! Multiple warehouses can be created in SkuNexus. As orders are entered into inventory, they are assigned a warehouse and a location in the warehouse.  It will be easy to see the quantity of product on hand overall, as well as a breakdown of quantity by warehouse.

SkuNexus integrates with most eCommerce platforms. Real-time updates are pushed between the eCommerce site and SkuNexus, updating inventory across all warehouses.

Click here to learn more!

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