Dell Technologies
BMS-center-logo
 

Inventory Mistakes to Avoid

Share this Article:
Share Article on Facebook Share Article on Linked In Share Article on Twitter

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

VAMBOA hopes that you have enjoyed the first three articles on Inventory Management and that they have provided you lots of valuable information.   We have three more articles coming and this is the first of the three.

We all know that everyone makes mistakes occasionally; but, when it comes to inventory, you want to make sure you keep those mistakes to a minimum.

Below are a few mistakes you might encounter and what you can do to solve them:

1.) Lack of Inventory Management:

This one is the BIGGIE….  If you did not invest in your inventory management at all or you don’t pay enough attention to inventory management, you are more likely to make costly mistakes. Be sure to provide you and your staff the best training as well as select the right tools for your business.

2.) Excess Inventory:

This one is obvious:  Do not buy so much stuff. Unfortunately, it is not always that simple. It is important to analyze your past sales performances to forecast what you will realistically need. Check in with your suppliers to see how quickly they can refill orders then set up an automatic reorder limit in your inventory management software to alert you when it is time to restock.

How do you get rid of excess inventory?

You are going to order too much of something at some point in time or demand for a popular item will suddenly drop.  This will happen sooner or later. What can you do? Try marking the items down on clearance to promote and sell them because people love a good deal.  Perhaps you might consider sitting on the item until next season or try a new market that may want the item.  You can also check with your suppliers to determine if they will arrange a return.

3.) Not Enough Inventory:

This is the other side of the coin.  Proper inventory management helps you better forecast your inventory and product seasons, ensuring that you buy products in the proper quantities for your demand. You really don’t want someone to order something from your website, only to discover you don’t actually have it in stock. Make sure to have a system in place that allows you to keep on top of your inventory.

4.) Miscommunications:

Miscommunications happen all the time.  They are more likely to happen if you recently   changed processes, changed software, added new hardware, added new products, or started a special promotion that you did not communicate properly to everyone else. To address these types of problems, it is best to have one person at your company handle all the ordering, or setup your inventory management system to automatically place orders for you.

5.) Shipping & Returns:

Typically, lots of sales can translate into a lot of returns. Make sure you know how you are going to deal with returns, especially if you work with a drop shipper. Will returns come to your location or to theirs? Who is responsible for making sure the returns are not damaged or unsellable? How are credits and refunds made? You do not want to be in a situation in which you issue a refund to keep your customer happy and then get stuck with the unwanted item if the supplier won’t take it back. Make sure that you have clear shipping and returns policies in place.

Inventory management today is much easier. Thanks to items including bar codes scanners, inventory software, warehouse management software, artificial intelligence, and more, businesses can handle inventory management better than ever before. We hope that these tips can help you avoid problems with your inventory.

To manage things especially now that you and your team may be working more remotely, you may want to upgrade your computers and peripherals.  For this reason, VAMBOA has joined forces with Dell Technologies to offer VAMBOA members and friends significant discounts.

Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

If you are not yet a member of VAMBOA, we welcome you and want you to know that there are not any fees or dues.   Here is a link to join and spread the word:

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/ 

Inventory Management for eCommerce

Share this Article:
Share Article on Facebook Share Article on Linked In Share Article on Twitter

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

 

We hope that you enjoyed the first two articles in the Inventory Management mini-series.   This next article is about Inventory Management for eCommerce.

Clearly, eCommerce stores have very different inventory tracking needs than retail businesses do. The system can help you manage both your physical inventory as well as your online inventory. Working with an inventory management system can have some outstanding benefits for you and your company, even if you use drop shipping and have no physical inventory.

What are some good practices for eCommerce Inventory Management?

1.) Forecast Your Needs:

Like traditional retail stores, eCommerce shops also need to forecast their buying needs based on past sales. You should have a plugin for your online shop that allows you to view your point-of-sale analytics in real time. This will tell you which parts of your site are performing well, and which ones are not and what are the hot products or services that are in most demand.

One huge upside to eCommerce sites over brick-and-mortar stores is that you can easily get rid of underperforming products or seasonal products without having to pay in advance for the items or put them on clearance. You can forecast what you believe that you will need, and pivot as the need arises, usually with a simple click of your mouse.

2.) Use a Centralized System:

Currently, Excel is no longer the best tool for tracking inventory. There are quite a lot of apps and cloud-based inventory programs, from the very basic to the very complex, that are available.  If you are not already using one, it is time to switch over to the right one for you.

Depending on which application you choose, you can find inventory management software that will:

  • Alert you when inventory is low or expiring
  • Create customizable packing slips and barcodes for order fulfillment
  • Track all of your sales and inventory in real-time. This allows you see all the inventory levels of each one of your stores in one single place.
  • Create customized promotions and gift cards
  • Use your Point-Of-Sale data to monitor inventory turnover
  • Easily sync all the data from your Point-Of-Sale system, retail software, online store, and accounting software
  • Generate reports based on customer buying data
  • Help you integrate with the major retailers to reach even more customers

3.) Utilize Drop Shipping

One of the great things about an eCommerce store is that you don’t have to have your inventory physically in your possession. You can sell a variety of products from a variety of suppliers. You never have to actually handle the products or pack them or ship them yourself. You also won’t tie up a lot of your capital in inventory that may or may not sell quickly. The drop shipper will simply send out the order for you and they will even send it using your own branded packaging materials and paperwork.

4.) Delegate and Outsource:

Depending on how big your operation is, you may have someone who is managing your inventory for you. They may be the ones making the counts and forecasting the inventory needs. Utilizing centralized software makes delegating this task much easier as you and your employees can all see the same data in real time.

We hope the first three articles in this series on Inventory Management has been helpful to you.   Please stay tuned as there is much more valuable information ahead.  In the meantime, if you need to replace and upgrade computers and peripherals, VAMBOA has partnered with Dell Technologies to offer members and friends significant discounts.  Please check them out here:  https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

Inventory Management for Retail

Share this Article:
Share Article on Facebook Share Article on Linked In Share Article on Twitter

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

We hope that you enjoyed the prior article in this mini-series on Inventory Management.  This second article is about Retail.   Keep in mind that retail outlets have very different needs than other ecommerce businesses. Retail stores are really required to have their inventory on-hand as compared to online stores that may utilize drop shippers and do not actually have any physical inventory.   Often, they do not need to tie up capital with inventory until clients place their orders.

Below are some good practices for retail inventory:

1.) Automate It:

The best thing you can do for your business is to automate monitoring your inventory levels for each of your products. Having the input on exactly what people bought and how many they bought, in real-time, will enable you to keep appropriate inventory in stock. Set your system up to alert you at a preset level so you can refill the item(s) as quickly as possible. This will also help you keep better track of past performance and allow you to make better seasonal forecasts. It also means you will have what your customers want in stock and this translates to greater revenues.

2.) POS Analytics:

POS (Point-Of-Sale) analytics allow you to do more than simply track your inventory.   Point of Sale analytics will tell you quite a lot about your company’s overall performance, how every product is selling and how many items you sell over time. These analytics let you know which items are performing well and those that are not.

A POS analytics system answers important questions including:

  • What are my best-selling products?
  • Are these products strong sellers all year long, or is there a special season when they sell better?
  • Do some products perform better in one part of the store than another?
  • Which of my stores perform better than my other stores (which specific locations perform better than others)?
  • Which items were purchased with coupons?
  • Which items are purchased together the most?

3.) EDI:

Electronic data Interchange (EDI) is a cloud-based system that replaces the old-school email, phone, and fax order placements. EDI combines all the typical documents needed for a single transaction including purchase orders, purchase order acknowledgments, advanced shipping notifications, packing lists and invoices into one easy to use digital system. Your staff will no longer need to compare different physical documents to place an order, confirm inventory, send incoming shipment alerts, confirm what was shipped, bill for items received,and more.

4.) Practice Order-to-Shelf:

Order-to-shelf (OTS) Inventory Management is a new trend that was started by several grocery stores to reduce their storage and labor costs. It is just like the “just-in-time” inventory process many automotive manufacturers use. Basically, everything that you need for the day arrives that morning and you sell everything by the time you close your store for the evening. The next day a truckload is waiting for the process to begin again. This reduces spoilage and cuts down on storage costs since you are not storing anything, and nothing will go to waste.

VAMBOA hopes that this second article in our mini-series on Inventory Management has been helpful to you.  Stay tuned for the rest of this informative series.   We want to remind you that VAMBOA has joined forces with Dell Technologies to provide special discounts to our members and friends.  With the new normal, there is a huge need to update our computers and peripheral products.  Here is a link to the discounts:

https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

Inventory Tracking Software for Your Business

Share this Article:
Share Article on Facebook Share Article on Linked In Share Article on Twitter

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association is pleased to provide this mini-series of articles on Inventory Management for our Veteran and Military Business owners.  The first article in this series is about the right Tracking Software for your Business.  We hope that these articles answer your questions, offer you valuable information and are enjoyable.

Proper inventory management is a valuable tool that makes running your business so much easier. If you do not have a system in place, you will need to find and select the right one that will work for your company size, inventory size, and your budget.

Below are the main factors you need to consider before selecting your inventory tracking software platform:

1.) Cost:

The cost of purchasing and/or upgrading your system is one of the major concerns for any business. This is certainly one of those “you get what you pay for” items.  You need to be sure that the system can handle your specific business needs right now as well as allowing you room to grow with what you anticipate needing in the not too far off future. Do not select a system that is so inexpensive and cannot handle what you need it to do.  At the same time, do not select the most expensive and feature-rich option if you are not planning on growing into a major national retail chain.  In other words, do not buy more than what your needs will be now and going forward.

2.) User-Friendly:

The next biggest concern is how easy the system will be to integrate and use. You need to find a system that is user friendly so that you don’t waste a ton of time and energy trying to figure it out and training yourself and others.

3.) Integrations:

You need to be sure that the inventory software integrates with your other business tools.  For example, your inventory management software should be able to integrate with your accounting software, shipping software and your email newsletter provider. Integrated systems should allow you maximize your free time of on some of your other daily tasks.

4.) Detailed Reports:

You will likely need an inventory tracking system that provides detailed reports about your inventory. You need to be able to easily see which products are the most popular in your product offerings and which ones are not so you don’t waste money with the unpopular ones that are not selling.

5.) Product Customization Options:

You need to be able to change your products quickly and easily and not just the quantity. You need to carefully select the right software that allows you to quickly change item prices, shipping, and other important information.

6.) Customer Support:

This is very important from the get-go when you are trying to implement the new system or if there is a major update to the system later. You need to select a platform from a reputable company that you believe will be in business for some time. Additionally, it is very important to make sure that they include support in the purchase of your new system. Test out and call support prior to your purchase and make sure they are there to easily respond to your needs.  Make sure that customer support answers call and emails in a timely manner. If they do not, you might seriously consider another vendor.

We hope that you enjoyed this first article in our series.   VAMBOA also wants to let you know that we have partnered with Dell Technologies and if you need to update your computers and peripherals, please check out the special discounts just for VAMBOA Members and Friends here:  https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

As a public service to VAMBOA’s Veteran and Military Small Business Owners, we are bringing you this fraud/scam alert to keep you informed.   Please be vigilant and do your homework to check out so that you are not a victim to grant fraud, load fraud and phishing.

From the Small Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General:

The Office of Inspector General recognizes that we are facing unprecedented times and is alerting the public about potential fraud schemes related to economic stimulus programs offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration in response to the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19).

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the largest financial assistance bill to date, includes provisions to help small businesses. Fraudsters have already begun targeting small business owners during these economically difficult times.  Be on the lookout for grant fraud, loan fraud, and phishing.

Scams and Fraud Schemes

Grants:

  • SBA does not initiate contact on either 7a or Disaster loans or grants.  If you are proactively contacted by someone claiming to be from the SBA, suspect fraud.

Loans:

  • If you are contacted by someone promising to get approval of an SBA loan, but requires any payment up front or offers a high interest bridge loan in the interim, suspect fraud.
  • SBA limits the fees a broker can charge a borrower to 3% for loans $50,000 or less and 2% for loans $50,000 to $1,000,000 with an additional ¼% on amounts over $1,000,000. Any attempt to charge more than these fees is inappropriate.
  • If you have a question about getting a SBA disaster loan, call 800-659-2955 or send an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.
  • If you have questions about other SBA lending products, call SBA’s Answer Desk at 800-827-5722 or send an email to answerdesk@sba.gov.

Phishing:

  • If you are in the process of applying for an SBA loan and receive email correspondence asking for PII, ensure that the referenced application number is consistent with the actual application number.
  • Look out for phishing attacks/scams utilizing the SBA logo.  These may be attempts to obtain your personally identifiable information (PII), to obtain personal banking access, or to install ransomware/malware on your computer.
  • Any email communication from SBA will come from accounts ending with gov.
  • The presence of an SBA logo on a webpage does not guarantee the information is accurate or endorsed by SBA.  Please cross-reference any information you receive with information available at sba.gov.

Report Fraud

Report any suspected fraud to OIG’s Hotline at 800-767-0385 or online at, https://www.sba.gov/about-sba/oversight-advocacy/office-inspector-general/office-inspector-general-hotline.

Small business owners, including veteran and military owned small businesses are dealing with a multitude of challenges now.  It is unfortunate and sad, that on top of everything else, there are people and groups out there with the goal of scamming or committing fraud.  Unfortunately, this is the reality so please check everything and make sure you are sure that you are dealing with legitimate entities.  It is better to be safe than sorry.

ibmpos_blurgb