Managing inventory can be complicated sometimes. If it isn’t poor traceability of inventory, materials shortages, or an overabundance of stock, it’s probably something else causing managers headaches day in and day out. If only there were an easier way to manage inventory, streamline the process, and make it easier to track your goods/materials.
Fortunately, there are several methods through which managing inventory can transform from being a migraine to something much more manageable. In this article, we’ll explore five easy ways to make your inventory easier to track.
Perhaps the most logical choice for tracking a lot of data in a particular way is to use spreadsheets. More than a tracking device, companies can also use spreadsheets to create databases, perform calculations, and quickly sort large amounts of data. Although a step up from manual entry, spreadsheets aren’t a comprehensive solution for larger businesses.
When you’re using Excel for inventory management, a bit of setup is involved. It starts with having fields available for pertinent product information such as the number, name, price, value, current stock, and description. Set up your sheets to simplify filtering so it’s easier to find information when needed. Optimizing your use of Excel involves setting up templates and knowing your formulas. Formulas like SUM, SORT, and RANK will benefit any spreadsheet-based inventory.
You’ll want to perform regular checks/audits on your spreadsheets to ensure their validity, integrity, and thoroughness. Spreadsheets are ideal for smaller businesses or organizations and have some use in larger organizations as well. They’re the perfect supplement to more robust inventory management systems and can integrate with cloud-based programs if desired.
Key Performance Indicators
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are useful for tracking and managing inventory. With any KPI, managers need to clearly define what parameters they wish to measure. For inventory management, they’re even more crucial. KPIs are important parts of measuring success at any level of your business, and there are some KPIs that you should use to help lead your path into the future.
When you need to focus on improvement areas, issues, or difficult aspects of inventory management, KPIs give you the information you need to make adjustments quickly. The most vital areas to use KPIs are sales, receiving, and operations. Inventory turnover, or how often the company sells and replenishes stock, is another vital KPI to use. Other integral KPIs include days/weeks on hand (counting average inventory sales during those periods), stock to sales ratios, backorder rates, sellthrough rates, and accuracy. You can also implement KPIs to monitor for theft and shrink within your warehouse.
Cloud-based Management Systems
If spreadsheets aren’t your cup of tea (or you just want something a bit more automated), utilizing a cloud-based inventory management system is a great alternative. The cloud is ideal for inventory management that requires high levels of attention to detail in everything from SaaS systems to large businesses that move a ton of continuous data.
Cloud-based systems can even work with more traditional tracking tech like RFID tags. The beauty of the cloud is that it automates most tasks involved with inventory, especially the ones that consistently bog down warehouse teams (tracking purchases, sales, and so on). It also massively boosts productivity. Think about all the mindless, repetitive tasks your workers likely perform every day. Imagine if you could streamline and automate some of them to make it easier. That’s where the cloud excels. By utilizing cloud-based systems for inventory management and leveraging them to your benefit, you can make a once arduous task much simpler for everyone involved.
RFID Asset Tags
Although there are many wonderful methods to use for tracking inventory, very few of them are as effective as RFID asset tags. RFID (radio frequency identification) technology isn’t new, but some of its applications are pretty amazing. RFID tags can be used for tracking people, objects, cargo, and assets.
For inventory management, the use of passive RFID asset tags is one of the best technological advances to come along in recent years. RFID tags automatically capture data, improve overall efficiency, and are very ways to track and read. That alone renders them invaluable for most warehouse needs. RFID tags improve inventory tracking, and inventory visibility, and save money. When everything goes well at the warehouse, it makes it better for the consumer as well because their shopping experience becomes streamlined and simpler than ever before.
Audits. The very notion of them can send chills down the spines of even the most battle-hardened executives. But when inventory management is involved, it can become a powerful tracking tool. Auditing is simply a way to account for where the money goes, how it’s being spent, and whether a company’s practices align with its established procedures. This applies to inventory tracking in a significant way.
In an inventory audit, managers spend time assessing the inventory levels, compare them with what’s been allocated/sold/wasted, and measure the financial records against the inventory to ensure accuracy. Tracking inventory through regular audits can guarantee high accuracy, correct amounts of inventory, a reduction in damaged inventory, and ultimately make tracking everything in your warehouse a breeze.