With $1.1 trillion in working capital tied up in inventory, it’s no secret that many retail businesses struggle with inventory management. If you feel like your inventory processes are underoptimized and you don’t have a good handle on stock quantities across all your sales channels, you’re not alone. In fact, over a quarter of retailers Stitch Labs recently surveyed said a comprehensive and accurate view of inventory in their warehouse(s) was the most helpful back-end functionality to improve their operations. If you’re operating without this visibility, your business efficiencies are falling behind. So, how do you know it’s time to upgrade your processes?
- You are constantly running out of stock or are overstocked
- You have inaccurate or unknown stock and order quantities
- You lack access to real-time stock counts
- You have difficulty tracking inventory across multiple sales channels and/or warehouses
- You are unable to accurately forecast inventory needs
If any of these sound familiar, inefficiencies are cutting into your company’s profitability. So, how can you begin to take control of your stock and effectively tackle this complex and crucial business function? Follow these four best practices of best-in-breed retailers do to start gaining control of your inventory and operations:
- Organize Your Existing Processes: Performing a thorough, physical stocktake will provide visibility into what you have on hand and where it’s currently located. Categorize your inventory in whatever way is most effective for your operational, tracking, and reporting purposes.
- Integrate Your Disparate Systems: If you’re using siloed systems to handle purchase orders, stock quantities, invoices, shipping, and fulfillment, then you’re wasting time and resources. A recent Aberdeen study found that 36% of retailers increased their customer conversation rate by making sure all sales and service channels integrated with each other. Identify the most integral technology system within your current ecosystem and seek out platforms to integrate and centralize these processes.
- Unify Your Inventory and Operations Data: Your data shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. With disparate systems comes isolated data and reports, but more actionable and impactful insights can be gleaned by unifying your business information. Whether it’s in a master spreadsheet or a comprehensive solution you need to sync your data statistics into a single location.
- Implement an Inventory Management System: The most efficient way to streamline and automate your inventory and operations is to implement a centralized inventory management solution. Especially if you’re selling through multiple channels or operating multiple warehouses, a solution with topline functionalities and integrations can provide your business with a central hub in which to manage and analyze all your retail operations for maximum efficiency and optimization.
For more information on the top benefits of centralized inventory solutions and how to find the best solution for your business, read the Stitch Labs Ultimate Guide to Scaling Your Retail Business or view the webinar, Automation and Centralization: Calming the Complexities of Inventory Management.
Written by Jake Gasaway
Jake is a co-founder and VP of platform at Stitch Labs. He spent the early part of his career with major manufacturing companies, Philip Morris U.S.A and the Campbell Soup Company. When he’s not in the Lab, you’ll find him spending time with his wife and son, or watching college football snuggled up next to an ice cold can of Miller Lite.