Inventory Management & Inventory Automation
Nothing annoys a potential buyer quicker than when they find a product they like on a website product page but receive an error message when they try to buy the product. Something like; “sorry, the product is sold out” or an email from the business informing them that the product isn’t available. If the product isn’t available, why is it still on your product page then? That’s a question a buyer would ask out of frustration, but we know that updating the product catalog is not as simple as it seems. Most businesses don’t plan to have poor inventory management, yet it’s a common issue in both the eCommerce industry and the brick-and-mortar industry. Besides forgetting to update your inventory on time, manually managing your stock inventory manually can be time-consuming and can lead to errors. Frankly, there’s not enough good reason to manage your inventory manually, which is why many businesses are switching to an automated inventory.
What is Automated Inventory Management
An automated inventory system is typically a software tool that tracks and manages inventory in real-time, including other inventory tasks such as purchase order generation, order fulfillment, invoicing, etc. An automated inventory management system requires little human input to keep track of inventory, and because it’s a software tool, it eliminates errors.
Back in the day, only companies with a big budget could afford an automated inventory management system, but now anyone in retail, wholesale, B2B, B2C, and distribution can use it. Automated inventory software can help track and organize supplies, stock, and sales in real-time, so you don’t lose precious time doing it manually. Some automated inventory systems can place a restock order for you even.
You can optimize your automated inventory management system by integrating it with your point of sale (POS) system. You will be able to generate meaningful reports about your sales pattern, profit margins, and other parameters.
Benefits of Automated Inventory
If you are still unsure whether to invest in an automated inventory management tool, that’s because you don’t know that it will save you more money in the long run than you will spend installing it. That said, let’s look at a few benefits you will get from using an automated inventory system.
It saves time: an automated inventory management system will save you time. It will automatically record and update all necessary details each time a product is sold, received, or returned without any manual instruction from you. Throw away the spreadsheets and let your automated inventory management system take care of your inventory.
Real-time awareness: an automated inventory management system gives you real-time tracking and visibility of your inventory, which allows you to always restock on time and accurately. You won’t be working with an estimate of what’s left in stock because your automated inventory management system will have accurate real-time data for each item in your inventory. Hence, you will never run out of stock or have unfulfilled orders.
Record-keeping accuracy: there’s a certain level of accuracy an automated inventory management system guarantees that manual tracking of inventory doesn’t guarantee. Instead of a manual data entry, an automated inventory management system will manage data entry, add, delete, and restock in real-time, while eliminating human error.
It eliminates stock-level miscalculations: one of the common challenges facing businesses that manage their inventory manually is stock-level miscalculations. It can be hard to monitor customer data versus inventory to forecast accurate inventory levels, but you have to make accurate calculations to restock the right items timely. Because an automated inventory management system is a computer software tool, you can rest assured that your stock-levels calculations will be error-free.
Features to Look Out for When Choosing an Automated Inventory Management System
Automatic restocking: whether you run an online store or a brick-and-mortar business in one or multiple locations, a tool that automatically restocks your inventory is a lifesaver. So, when researching automated management systems, ensure that it has an automatic restocking feature. You will have peace of mind knowing that your customers will never receive a “sorry, we are out of stock” message, which invariably guarantees an amazing customer experience.
Inventory notifications: while this seems like a given, you’ll be surprised to learn that some software tools can provide subpar alert and notification feature. Hence, when searching for an automated inventory management system, ensure it has a high-quality notifications feature. An automated inventory tool should send prompt and detailed alerts and notifications about your inventory levels, supply, distribution, shipping delays, and lots more.
Order fulfillment automation: although most automated inventory management tools don’t come with this feature, the automatic order management feature can reduce your workload. The order fulfillment automation feature can print shipping labels, track orders, scan barcodes, and carry out other order fulfillment tasks.
eCommerce integration: this feature is a must-have for eCommerce retailers that operate across multiple channels and on-site businesses with multiple store locations. You want an automated inventory management tool with unified administration you can integrate with multiple channels. So, ensure that you choose an automated inventory management tool that supports integration with other retail tools, such as POS and CRM.
Barcode scanning: another simple yet important feature to look out for when choosing an automated inventory management tool is the barcode scanning feature. You’ll be surprised how much time you can save by being able to scan product barcodes instead of manually typing in the product details to perform an inventory count.
Real-time streamlined data monitoring: an automated inventory management tool is pointless if it can’t track and record your inventory data in real-time. So, before you consider any feature, make sure the automated inventory management tools you are considering have this feature. You get bonus points if you choose a tool that provides streamlined reporting across your sales channels to help manage your supply chain. In fact, advanced automated inventory tools can use your stock data to forecast, saving you the time you would have spent on excel sheets calculating your inventory forecast.