As your business expands to multiple locations, you are likely to experience growing pains. You might not be prepared for the challenges of new locations, including increasing communication barriers, inventory control issues, and order bottlenecks. To overcome these common challenges, you can use these tips to improve your inventory management across all your locations.
Use Accurate Inventory Tracking
Inventory count errors become a huge roadblock when managing multiple locations. As careful as your team might be, human errors happen. Miscounts create a domino effect of issues at all stages of order fulfillment and warehouse management. Whether it is failure to record lost or damaged goods, theft, picking errors, or items lost within the warehousing system, each error contributes to growing inventory inaccuracies. Cycle counting at each location ensures your inventory is tracked as accurately as possible.
Be Prepared for Increasing Demand
Forecasting is an invaluable tool for managing customer demand. Although it is difficult to predict customer demand, it becomes easier with a warehouse management system. You can also consider the potential demand influences you can control, such as sales, discounts, special offers or launching a new product to help ensure your planning is on point. When you understand how to optimize your inventory, you avoid overstocking costs and creating issues across your locations.
Improve Warehouse Layout
Warehouse layout impacts business efficiencies. The more steps your team takes to complete a task, the more it impacts your ability to get products out to your customers and the more risk there is of errors. Assessing your warehouse space and ensuring each point of the fulfillment process has logical, well-stocked workstations reduce touch points and the number of steps your team needs to complete any given task. Also, ensuring you store top sellers closer to the shipping area expedites order picking. Consider keeping a detailed map posted at each station, so employees have an easy reference of the layout to locate what they need.
Multiple locations make it harder to predict when you need to order stock. Keeping track of stock levels and setting an amount of stock by item ensures you never delay customer deliveries. If you find it difficult to predict stock numbers, a good rule of thumb is to ensure the total cost of the inventory is no more than 20% to 40% of the cost to stock the merchandise. With inventory management, you can also set inventory thresholds to re-order and replenish stock when needed.
Keep Track of Each Location’s Inventory
Multiple locations are not just warehouses. You need to consider all locations, including offices. Understanding the location of each item provides a clear picture of product volume, so you never face over or under-stocked issues. Your process becomes more efficient because you don’t waste time searching for products or ordering products you don’t need. For example, you might not realize there’s a pile of returned items sitting in a warehouse manager’s office waiting to be restocked. Tracking inventory at every possible location is easier using a third-party logistics or warehouse management system to locate and transfer products as required.
Leverage Inventory Management Analytics
Real-time data allows you to make data-driven decisions that positively impact inventory management. This is another area where 3PL software can help. Reporting and analytics provide valuable insights on turnover rates to make smarter decisions on how much stock you need at any given time. Analytics also allow you to become more efficient at tracking inventory counts, improving order-picking time, and managing returns.
Adopt Integration Methods with Suppliers
Adopting integration methods with suppliers can greatly benefit your business operations. In particular, integrating with suppliers for in-bound Advanced Shipping Notices (ASNs) can streamline your inventory management. By receiving detailed information about incoming shipments, including tracking numbers and expected delivery dates, you can better plan for receiving and stocking items at multiple locations. This can help you maintain the right inventory levels and reduce the risk of stockouts or overstocking. Additionally, integration can improve communication and collaboration with suppliers, leading to stronger relationships and potentially better pricing and terms.
Start Backing Up Inventory Data
Lost data for multiple locations is a catastrophic event that brings your operations to a grinding halt. The lost revenue during recovery can devastate your business as customers find products elsewhere. Using a cloud-based warehouse management system ensures your data is stored in a central location and backed up securely, so you never need to worry about lost inventory data.
These tips will limit your struggles and help you regain control of your multi-location inventory management.
VeraCore is SaaS order and warehouse management software trusted by top fulfillment companies and 3PLs. Affordable, flexible, easy to use; VeraCore is everything you need to keep clients happy and run a lean operation.
With VeraCore, you can grow your business and handle any challenge with ease. Rules-based automation enables you to control all aspects of your warehouse operation and satisfy each of your clients’ unique requirements.
Hundreds of fulfillment service providers and 10,000+ fulfillment clients place VeraCore at the “core” of their business to get the job done right, for over 40 years.