There is no denying the fact, that as a business owner, the one thing that definitely affects your business the most is inventory management. As you grow your business from a small start-up to an established business, it is the role of inventory management that defines how you sustainable your business can be. This especially during periods of transition and growth. When you are fulfilling your aspiration to create a globally empowering organization, then it is the intricate and complex web of logistics and inventory management that can then create roadblocks to your growth.
One way of tackling and keeping yourself prepared for this growth is the choice of technology that you are able to access, that can help you pave an easier way for inventory management.
Before that, it is important to understand what the inventory management process really is. The inventory management in layman terms is the stock of product inventory that you have, then starts from the point of the manufacturer till the consumer, creates the system of production and distribution, as we understand it today. This process can be a tedious one and is a complex one to manage and can be the downfall of a lot of businesses, which is why it is important to invest in the right technology.
Why is it important to management your Inventory efficiently?
I must say, that if you are asking yourself this question, it could serve you well to give yourself a reality check and ask what is really important for your business. This is because inventory control contributes significantly to the profitability of the business. If you are not able to strike a balance between the incoming and the out-going inventory, then it can create major pitfalls for your business. Let us discuss some of the challenges that businesses, irrespective of size and scope, have in common:
It is extremely important to assess your business capacity and your capacity to sell. This is because most businesses face the challenge of buying a stock that they are not sure they can sell. This can, in turn, create budget deficits and increase the bottom-line expenditure. The entire stock that you are not able to sell to the customer is written off as a loss. Even though every company does account for a certain percentage of loss due to inventory management, if you are not careful, you can be creating what can spiral into a highly disruptive situation.
Imagine the perception that you are creating in the minds of the customer when you are out-of-stock. This is obviously possible with every business in some situation or the other, but imagine this becoming a regular affair because of bad inventory management. This is something that you need to look at, as this happening more than a certain number of times, directly translates into you losing out on your customer base.
This is a very common problem, especially with businesses that are selling perishable items. Perishable items imply a limited shelf-life. A limited shelf-life implies that the business has to keep into account the expiration dates of the products and plan according to that. Depreciating products can cause a significant amount of loss to the food processing industry. When you are a business operating in this industry, it is all the more important to have great control over your inventory, because you have to also worry about health regulations and standards that businesses in other spaces might not have to worry about.
Accounting for Human Error
This is particularly important for businesses that are still looking out for manual input and output of inventory. When you are looking at inventory management, there are a lot of things that you have to consider and even though you might feel like you have a streamlined process, in the initial stages of your business, as you expand, things can get more complex and even the most efficient employees can make mistakes. It is important to be ahead of these things and leave room for human error in the overall management of your inventory, in order to be able to reduce damage.
Let us look at some of the technologies that we can use in order to be able to minimize this damage:
This has proven to be an extremely efficient technology and can be used very efficiently in the management of stock, at the time of check-in and check-out. Barcode scanners are a fairly simple technology to use and usually just come with a scanner and POS software that will enable you to set this up.
Using this technology is also fairly simple, as the scanners act as markets of the inventory that has come in and are going out and you use those markers to put that information into your inventory database. When you do this, it is coupled with software that allows you to immediately update what and when it is updated.
Companies are becoming more data-driven and they are looking to adopt more IoT and AI-based solutions that are fully equipped to capture relevant data around a particular aspect of the business and then convert it into actual valuable insights. This particular feature can be used extensively for inventory management as data around stock issues and bottlenecks can easily be captured and then transferred onto the smart inventory management app. Apart from resolving and anticipating issues, the software can also give insights into trends that are taking place within the market and the knowledge of many other emergent technologies.
One of the biggest advantages of these systems is that they can be integrated with other enterprise databases as well and this can prevent any problems that might come up in the course of your inventory management.
Robotic technology is something that has cemented its place in the industry and especially when it comes to inventory management. Contrary to the technologies that were being used in outdated manufacturing facilities that were hugely inefficient, the new robotic technologies are more intelligent and use much more sophisticated technology, powered by AI algorithms and equipped with sensors and cameras. A lot of large manufacturing operations have shifted full-time to this technology including industry giants that are using this technology for same-day delivery.
Light Fidelity Technology
Light Fidelity Technology is increasingly being used as a substitute for WiFi-enabled technology owing to the problem of connectivity in many regions. LiFi is a technology that uses light to transmit data and position. LED Lamps are normally used for this transmission. This has been borne out of the poor connectivity for robotic technology that was a huge logistical issue for many warehouses.
LiFi is being looked at as an extremely viable alternative in the sense that it can provide accurate 3D positioning for robots, drones and other devices in factories and warehouses where this kind of indoor positioning was earlier reliant on WiFi technology.
Radio Frequency Identification technology refers to the technology where digital data can be captured by radio waves. This has come in response to the Barcode technology as RFID technology has the ability to read data that could be out-of-sight while in the case of Barcode Scanner, they need to have the support of an optical scanner.
RFID technology first identifies the object, collects data about it and then has a system of entering that data directly into the system without the need for any kind of human intervention. This then completely eliminates the risk of human error and uses radio waves to be able to accomplish this.
The technology that you are using is going to depend on the kind of business that you are running and it is not important for you to invest in all the technologies just because they are available. It is important to understand that inventory management is vital to the success of your business and if you do not have a good handle on that, it is very unlikely that you would be able to run your business smoothly.
There are technologies that have been developed for the smooth and seamless functioning of your business and it is no substitute for the discernment that will be needed to create the right balance of technology and human intervention. Choosing the right technology with the resources at your disposal can create a pathway for you to work on the inventory issues that could be hurting your business while giving you the opportunity to shift your focus from the mundane to the more resourceful aspects of your business.