Inventory management keeps distributors organized and on a forward-thinking, progressive path. To develop and maintain the most effective system, business owners need this aggressive method of inventory control to protect their assets and increase the odds of a fruitful future. What you need for managing inventory is solid inventory management software — an important portion of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software as a whole.
Inventory management software helps you understand the flow of your warehouse and/or stock. It shows you what you have, where it’s located, when product is coming in and out, and when you need more or less of something. This information is vital to help you make better informed business decisions. Based on the data gleaned from the software, you can cut costs, speed up fulfillment, and even prevent fraud.
Having a complete 360-degree overview of what’s happening with your product puts you in complete control, which is where you want to be. However, to get the most out of your inventory management software, you need to have a thorough understanding of what features to expect. Here are some of the top inventory management features to look out for:
1. Product Handling
Comprehensive product handling features make it simple for businesses with sensitive product handling to stay on a straight path. This is especially important for businesses who work with perishable products (like food) where time is an important factor in dealing with products. Some vendors use a First-In-First Out (FIFO) or Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) model, while others require specific reorder points for raw materials needed for the final consumer-facing products. Regardless of the model you use, you need product handling features to ensure each product is fresh for the end customer.
2. Shipping Integration
To make the most out of your inventory management, why not integrate it with your physical shipping processes? One way to better manage your shipping department is to combine it with your inventory platform. Some software options work directly with major carriers, saving companies plenty of time and effort. This makes it that much easier to track and analyze shipments from the warehouse to the customer’s doorstep. Various cost breakdowns help you understand every aspect of the shipping process, including what landing costs are and which origin points present the greatest value for your supply chain.
3. Platform Integrations
The more your business grows, the more important platform integrations will be to your overall scheme. Multiple systems help better manage operations and create a seamless flow of information. Common integrations are between your inventory management software, ecommerce platform, accounting, ERP, and CRM. By integrating these software elements, you eliminate the need for unnecccesary manual entry and hopping between platforms. This also creates a more diverse set of reporting capabilities.
Reporting is one of the most crucial components of inventory management software. With the aid of reporting capabilities, you can create a much more seamless and streamlined workflow, and increase your overall efficiency. Reports can help you determine how much inventory you need over a given time period, where it’s needed, and when it’s needed. It can also help you understand which products are most profitable and which are costing the company. Lastly, it can help you discover sales trends to maximize profit potential. There are dozens of different reports you can generate based on the company and what it values most.
5. Tracking and Scanning
There are a myriad of benefits of barcode scanning. Having an inventory management system that allows bar code scanning of physical products is the best way to catalog physical inventory products. A platform that permits processing of products with multiple product numbers or SKUs is even better. Barcodes automatically identify products and this type of fast recognition can lower overhead costs, increase accuracy, and improve productivity. With integrated barcode technology, the chance of mistakes or mix-ups greatly decreases.
The features listed above are all important to the inventory tracking process, and work cohesively together to make running a business less complicated. Not all inventory management software is created equal, so it’s important to consider what’s most vital to your business and day to day operations.