Over the last decade, shoppers have been asking for flexibility to shop anytime and anywhere. The pandemic escalated pre-existing trends. Stay-at-home orders and essential worker restrictions forced businesses to adapt to an online marketplace. Customers got used to the convenience of shopping online as well as other services like home delivery and curbside and in-store pickup. Shoppers also gravitated towards businesses with easy options to return items in-store or from home.
Businesses that adopted standards to meet customer expectations experienced exponential growth during the pandemic.
Growing pains associated with explosive eCommerce included finding innovative and inclusive ways to manage inventory. Wholesale distributors are turning around products as fast as possible and customers are purchasing them at lightning speed through online retailers. Thus, it has become essential for retailers and warehouses to optimize inventory control to accommodate online shoppers along every step of the supply chain.
Best practices for retailers and wholesale distributors
Retailers and distributors need to adopt new best practices for inventory management including workflow evaluation, automation, and forecasting. Utilizing these best practices will ensure a seamless transaction from distribution to the end user.
Inventory operations, workflows, and processes must be clearly defined and regularly reviewed to make adjustments and ensure efficiencies as demands change. Included in any workflow evaluation should be a thorough evaluation of current and trending inventory management software and technology.
Depending on the growth stage of your business, consider integrating hardware devices such as radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and barcode scanner technologies. RFID tags use radio frequency to search, identify, track and communicate with items and people. RFID operates in real time. Barcodes encode product information making it easier to sell and track inventory. These devices reduce costs and streamline your operation. They offer innovative solutions to meet growing eCommerce and retail needs.
During the pandemic, brick and mortar stores temporarily closed. Many of those turned their traditional stores into fulfillment centers for online business. Now that the pandemic is shifting to an endemic, stores are reopening. Yet, many are choosing to adopt hybrid or entirely online storefronts.
Integrating technology and inventory management will assure these businesses meet supply demands.
Using automated inventory management is the most effective way to streamline workflows. Automated systems efficiently manage inventory, purchase orders, operations, fulfillment, and shipping, allowing businesses to operate from numerous locations.
Because inventory is managed in real time, retailers and distributors can quickly identify current needs, implement changes, and manage capacity.
An automated, real-time inventory management system helps businesses make informed decisions on how to scale their operations. Using warehouse and commercial space optimally ensures you’ll have the inventory on hand to fulfill offers or buffer supply chain disruptions.
Additionally, meeting labor needs keeps operations flowing smoothly. Using an automated system, you have a real time pulse on all the operations of your business from inventory to labor. You can quickly analyze how inventory moves throughout your business to determine optimal times of days and days within the months where more or less labor is needed.
Finally, automation decreases the risk of human error. An automated system conducts standard processes with minimal human intervention. By eliminating manual data entry, inventory is managed more efficiently and with fewer, if any, inaccuracies.
Forecasting becomes increasingly important when there are disruptions in the supply chain. If nothing else, the unprecedented events of 2020 and 2021 illustrated how important forecasting is to fulfill customer orders.
Historically, inventory needs have been based on prior year’s demands and market trends. However, predictive technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) to assess multiple risk factors and data points faster and with more accuracy to depict forecasting.
Even with advanced forecasting tools, everyone along the supply chain must communicate to address consumer needs. Predictive technology streamlines this effort because all the information is readily available to make informed decisions.
DEAR Systems offers an all-in-one solution
Consumers are getting accustomed to shorter delivery times which puts pressure on distributors and retailers to meet those demands. While inventory management is an integral part of meeting those expectations, managing the day-to-day business activities including accounting, procurement, project and risk management, compliance, and supply chain operations is equally important.
DEAR Systems offers a comprehensive cloud solution to manage all of your business processes and applications and is a cost-effective alternative to expensive and convoluted ERP systems. DEAR’s industry-leading solution ties together your business processes to enable effective data exchange, streamlining your business. Think about how great you would feel making decisions with all the information you need at your fingertips!
We proudly work with clients around the globe to help them keep track of stock, financials, manufacturing, sales, eCommerce, and many other aspects of their business.
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