Human error is the top problem in 46% of all warehouses. Despite this, 43% of all small businesses are either tracking their inventory manually or not at all. Automated inventory management and robust inventory management software can help companies gain efficiency and improve their bottom line. Here are four of the essential ways they can achieve those goals.
1. Using predictive solutions for inventory procurement.
Modern, automated inventory management solutions can create purchase orders on-the-fly, based on current sales trends, year-over-year data, seasonal information, customer information, and more. The more robust and accurate the inventory management software, the more efficient your held inventory will be.
An automated purchasing system doesn't just save time. It also ensures that you acquire the right inventory for your customers, and reduces the chances of having over-stocked and unsold merchandise. With an automated purchasing system, your system will also be able to purchase smaller orders more frequently, making the system as a whole more agile.
With machine learning, inventory management solutions can easily outclass human inventory managers. Machine learning identifies patterns that wouldn't be visible to the human eye, such as complicated purchasing patterns that may fluctuate both on a yearly and seasonal basis. The inventory is adjusted to react to these changes, and the machine becomes smarter with each passing year.
2. Improving the scalability of an organization.
Your employees may currently be able to track an inventory of 200. But could they track an inventory of 2,000? Of 20,000? As organizations scale, they need to be able to track ever increasing inventories, which often leads to a dramatic increase in the numbers of SKUs and the individual products that have to be cataloged.
Having to rely upon human labor can be hindering to any business interested in growth because the efficiency of the system isn't there. But with automated solutions, 2,000 or 20,000 products are essentially the same in terms of analytics and resources. Organizations can scale without feeling as though they may collapse.
The organizations most likely to benefit from this are organizations that need to scale on a seasonal basis—which includes most of the retail industry. Companies don't want to have to hire additional human labor during the holidays or other busy months, only to scale down later. Automation can help businesses operate smoothly with static levels of human labor, thereby reducing both cost and disruption.
3. Reducing the amount of error within the inventory system.
Modern companies can lose a lot of money to error, whether it's because of an unsatisfied customer, or plain opportunity cost.
Automation is particularly brilliant whenever companies want to reduce errors and increase consistency. While people may not always utilize a software platform correctly, the platform doesn't make "mistakes." It will continuously operate consistently, as long as an expert appropriately controls it. Automated platforms won't transpose numbers or send things out to the wrong person—and that means that the inventory system will work far more smoothly, and users won't spend time resolving errors.
For the most part, most inventory solutions already operate quite smoothly as long as everything is correct. When errors arise, systems can come grinding to a halt. Avoiding these errors can improve both efficiency and customer support and service.
4. Improving customer support without additional administrative overhead.
Automated inventory management reduces the amount of customer support that organizations need to deliver, thereby reducing the amount of administrative overhead and human labor required. Customers can tell where their packages and products are at-a-glance and can see when the company has inventory without requesting updates. When customers do need help, the site can direct them to an automated chat system, then a knowledge base, and finally connect with a customer support representative after they've exhausted the other options.
It's not a controversial opinion that automating inventory management increases efficiency. Otherwise, the largest companies in the world wouldn't be hyper-focused on automating every aspect of their inventory management, shipping and logistics, and purchasing and procurement.
However, up until recently, many small and mid-sized businesses didn't feel as though they had the technological ability to automate their inventory and warehousing solutions. While improving efficiency may have been a priority, automation can be an intimidating, overwhelming process.
Today, there are many automated inventory management solutions that service small businesses, boutiques, or even solo practitioners. These inventory management solutions can be scaled for companies from 5 employees to 100,000+. They allow businesses to tap into the technological advantages of the largest enterprises in the world, improving their efficiency, productivity, and scalability.
SMA's OpCon automation platform is a solution for retailers small and large. We empower one of our clients to run operations for over 15,000 locations in the U.S. We'd like to help you grow your business.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.