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Inventory Management Benefits

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By Debbie Gregory.

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VAMBOA hopes you have enjoyed the previous five articles in this series.  Inventory Management is the final article and here we go.

Inventory management varies from store to store, company to company and industry to industry. However, the basic principles remain the same across the board. Inventory management ensures that you have the correct products in the quantities that you believe you will need. It is one part of the overall supply chain management that means that you know what you have, what you need to order, and how long it will take you go obtain more once you place your order.

Proper inventory management answers important questions, such as:

  • What items do I have?
  • How many of a specific item do I have?
  • When do I expect to run out of a specific item?
  • When do I typically run out of this item?
  • How many will I need to reorder?
  • How much stock does the supplier have of this item?
  • How long will it take for the supplier to refill their stock of this item?

How do you keep track?

There are several ways you can track your inventory. The most basic would be a simple spreadsheet where you log items in and out as you ship/sell and receive them. Another method would be to use dedicated inventory software on a computer and we have covered in the prior articles a number of viable options. Larger companies or suppliers use electronic data interchange (EDI) systems that plug directly into their enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

What are the benefits of good Inventory management? 

Real-time Inventory Tracking:

Instead of taking the time to constantly count how many items you have in stock, an inventory management system enables you to keep track of all your inventory. You can call up any item in your inventory and check its status in moments, at any time. This saves you both time and money.

Prevents Unnecessary Ordering:

If you know how many of an item you have, you are much less likely to accidentally order too many of any one item. You do not need to rely on any possible miscommunication or recent sales that you are not yet aware of as inventory is updated in real-time.

Reductions in Cost:

Over-ordering is not simply a storage problem; it also ties up your cash reserves and can lead to loss or spoilage of product (depending on your industry). A good inventory management system enables you to be aware of exactly how much you have of something and when you will run out of it so you can avoid accidental over-ordering or waste.

Better Overall Organization:

Good inventory management helps you organize your stock or raw materials. You will clearly be able to see which items sell fast, which do not sell well, what times of the year certain items sell better than others, and more.

Better Forecasting:

If you can easily track how often products sell out, you will be able to avoid empty shelves because you will know when you need to order more before you completely run out of any product(s). Automated systems can be set up to send alerts to trigger automatic reordering of items once they reach a certain level. Inventory management systems also allow you to store and access past data so you can better forecast future sales and performance.

Improved Sales:

Utilizing a good inventory management system allows you to see when you are selling more of any items which provides you the opportunity to better promote those items to customers. It also allows you to determine which products are under performing so that you can eliminate items from your offerings that are not selling.

As you can see regardless of the size of your business or whether you are a retailer, supplier, vendor, or manufacturer, you need to be practicing solid inventory management techniques in order to always have a clear picture of what you have on hand.

To manage your work better, 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/

Best Inventory Tracking Software

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

VAMBOA is pleased to bring you the fifth article in this special series on Inventory Management and the next to the last article.  Enjoy!

Based on some of our research, we found the following to be some of the best available inventory tracking software in 2020. If you need assistance selecting the right software for your specific business, we strongly recommend that you consider consulting a professional in this industry to provide you expertise on numerous vendors.

Below are a few recommendations for Point of Sale (POS) and inventory management software solutions that you may want to check out:

Infoplus Commerce:

Infoplus looks to be a good option for small companies planning on mid-level growth but may be a bit too much for smaller companies or startups. It is highly configurable and includes some warehouse management functions.

LS Nav:

LS Nav was developed by LS Retail.  It was built specifically for the retail and hospitality management industries. This tracking software also includes a mobile app along with the desktop software.  LS Nav allows you to quickly and easily organize and categorize your inventory, modify prices, and find your best-selling products.

Ordoro:

Ordoro is a cloud-based shipping and inventory management app. Ordoro includes barcode scanning and shipping functions, such as label printing.

ShopKee:

ShopKeep is another cloud-based option that was designed to be used on an iPad. You use your iPad as a Point of Sale (POS) device as well as your inventory manager. The app allows you to easily upload all your current inventory, keep track of top-selling items and track the costs and profit margins for each item.

SPS Commerce:

SPS Commerce is a very user-friendly system. It is used by companies of all sizes, large retail chains to small mom-and-pop stores and even suppliers. SPS Commerce even includes features that help you get your products into retailers all over the country, both large and small retailers and many you may not have heard of yet.

Vend POS:

Vend POS is a Point of Sale (POS) solution that allows you to categorize products by name, type, brand, supplier and SKU. You can also build customer reports and generate auto-reorders when a product drops below a pre-set level.

Wasp Barcode:

Wasp Barcode is a good inventory solution for smaller or medium sized companies that have as little as five employees but less than one-hundred employees. This system has cloud options, includes a barcode system, and inventory tracking software.

Zoho Inventory:

Zoho Inventory is the only solution on the list that offers a very basic free plan to try it out and this makes a lot of sense before you make an investment in Inventory Tracking Software. It is easy to set up and integrates with most of the popular ecommerce platforms. This is a wonderful way to test it out if you are a smaller company and just getting started.

VAMBOA wants to make the disclaimer that we are providing general information.  We are not endorsing any of these inventory tracking software products and we do not receive any revenues or fees from any of these inventory products reviewed in these articles.  Our goal is always to bring you excellent information to assist you in making good business decisions for your veteran or military small business.

Keep in mind that with a good inventory management system, you can take more control of your business, accomplish more, sell more items, and waste less time and money on your inventory. Stay tuned for the final article in this series on Inventory Management.

To manage your work better, 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 Mistakes to Avoid

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By Debbie Gregory.

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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

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By Debbie Gregory.

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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

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By Debbie Gregory.

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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/

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