In March, we all marked the one-year anniversary since the pandemic hit the globe, bringing with it massive changes in the way we all live and work. While service-based businesses like restaurants and entertainment venues suffered greatly, many manufacturers, distributors, and retailers with a strong online presence did okay.
Some even flourished. Americans (stuck at home and deprived of the ability to dine out or go to a concert) started ordering more and more things online to improve their homes, better equip their home offices, occupy their kids, and more.
The huge takeaway for businesses in the new normal? Whether you are in manufacturing, distribution, or retail – inventory management is more important than ever.
Nothing hurts more than having a line of customers at the door willing and ready to buy, but you must tell them, “Sorry, we are out of inventory, and my supplier in China has the goods, but there are no shipping containers available.” In the world of supply and demand, shipping containers are now going for two, even three times their usual price. Demand for steel and other raw materials is rising. In general, supply chains are experiencing disruption tantamount to chaos.
Never let a good crisis go to waste
We in business should perhaps use this as a teaching moment. If you’ve been juggling supplier delays this past year, if you have had enough of running out of stock or having too much tied up in inventory no one seems to want, perhaps it’s time to look at your critical systems.
Disruption brings opportunity if we choose to see it. Companies that will succeed in this new normal are those professionals that know how to control their inventory through a comprehensive, integrated inventory management solution. If you are considering such a solution, here are some of the main features a robust inventory management system must have to give your company a competitive edge.
- It must be a single source of truth for all things inventory related – order monitoring and management, inventory levels reporting, monthly trends, low stock alerts, vendor management and late purchase order monitoring, inventory by location (if you have multiple warehouses). The system should know it all and do it efficiently and effectively so that you don’t have to spend hours going to fifty different reports only to discover that you are about to run out of something and lose profits.
- Integration with sales – drill-down reports on sales by product line, product items, reporting on profit margins by item, historical sales, dropship automation integration, forecasting, support for multiple pricing points – your sales team will love you for all of that.
- Integration with accounting and a 360-degree view of any inventory item is essentially key to successful inventory management. For any item you make or sell, you need to see the whole picture, from suppliers, procurement, sales volume, profitability to accounting records.
It also goes without saying that in today’s world, your inventory management system should be SaaS/web-based and available from anywhere where there’s internet.
Do you have inventory management challenges? Share them with us! At Withum, we advise large and small companies in the manufacturing, logistics, and distribution industries, helping clients rethink how work gets done and transform their businesses.
Our team of talented experts at Withum can help your organization choose the right software and integrate it to streamline your business processes. Contact us to schedule a consultation.