Taking Stock – Why your retail business needs an inventory management solution
We’ll explore how an effective stock management solution can improve stock accuracy and help you make smarter data-driven stock purchasing decisions.
Robust stock management is essential for any retail business, but for many it’s a painful process and errors can be costly. Having the right software solution can relieve the stress of managing your inventory, ensure your data is accurate and save you bags of time and money. If you’re lucky you’ll find a solution which integrates with some of your other systems such as your eCommerce website, your ePOS system or your accounts package, but there is another way: a truly unified solution. In this article we’ll take a look at the essential elements of a quality inventory management solution and how they can positively impact on your business.
Inventory management was traditionally a manual process and unbelievably some businesses still operate in this way. However, the more channels you sell on the more complicated the process is. And, if you want to grow your business, you really need to automate as many of the processes as you can.
What is stock management?
Stock management is effectively a cyclical process with five stages:
- Receipt and storage
Let’s take a look at each stage in a bit more detail.
In order to correctly forecast what you are going to need, you must know what you already have as well as a reasonable idea of what you expect to sell in the near future so that you can ensure you are accurately replenishing your products. Knowing which items are your best sellers and quickest movers, as well as the turnaround times for replacing stock is crucial, which leads on to the next stage: purchasing.
If you have multiple suppliers, as most businesses do, you will have to keep track of their product lead and delivery times so that you order at the correct time. Order too early and you may not have enough space to store your goods and will have to pay for them sooner, order too late and you risk disappointing customers and missing out on sales.
When you receive your goods, you must ensure that your ‘goods in’ recording and put-away is accurate, or you could end up misplacing items or failing to record their receipt. You also need to know exactly where they are for your picking and packing team or your shelf replenishers to locate them in good time when the need arises – that is when your fulfilment process takes over.
Maintaining a slick fulfilment process will free up important storage space, ensure orders are sent in a timely manner, and help to reduce errors. It will also feed back into both your stock figures and your forecasting data so automating as much of this process as possible is vital. Your accounting will therefore be accurate and up-to-date at all times so you know exactly where you are at all times financially.
Choosing the right solution
Inventory management systems which are built for purpose are becoming increasingly popular, particularly as retailers branch out from traditional bricks and mortar stores to bricks and clicks or omnichannel models. While there are many options available, it’s crucial that you select the right solution for your business which will alleviate the pain points you may be experiencing, such as:
- Poor stock visibility
- Difficulty stock taking
- Labourious forecasting and purchasing
The key to managing your stock effectively is finding the right balance between holding and storing your products, fulfilling orders and replenishing inventory. And, if you sell in more than one place, whether that be online, in-store, across multiple locations, on internet marketplaces, or a mix of retail and wholesale, it adds a whole other level of complexity.With Saledock, you can create product collections or size and colour variant products.
If you sell a wide range of products or have variations of products, it can quickly become a complex process to maintain the right levels. As if that wasn’t enough, life becomes even more complicated when you sell items with variants such as different colours or sizes.Saledock allows you to transfer stock between stores.
A tool which automates your processes will reduce the need for manual entry and eliminate human error such as data duplication so you can spend more time where it matters. The modern retailer’s ideal solution will automate as much as possible so that you can keep stock moving and implement intelligent buying – that is only purchasing the items you actually need, when you need them.
The more sophisticated the solution, the more automation you can implement. A system which allows you to set automatic re-ordering points will ensure you never run out of stock. And with low stock alerts, you have the ability to transfer your stock between stores where it’s needed most while sending purchase orders to your suppliers automatically so you can keep your best-sellers in stock at all times.
The most effective stock management systems will even track your orders, confirm full or partial receipt of inventory and allow you to return items which are faulty and write off any damaged goods – all at the click of a button.With Saledock, stock levels are instantly updated upon receipt or return of stock on your PO.
And, with new mobile technology available in the form of apps, you can create easy-to-follow stock take sheets ready for your staff to complete on their mobile phones or on your business’ mobile computing devices, such as the rugged Sunmi L2s Zebra Scan handheld. When you implement an end-to-end solution such as this, you know your business data is in real-time and all your systems are fully synchronised. Plus, if your system also syncs with your accounts system, your profit and loss and stock differences are automatically recorded too!Saledock enables you to create stock takes in advance from the back office, assign to a member of staff, include a due by date and specify the products to include within the count.
Mastering inventory management will enable you to offer a seamless customer experience, improve your cash flow and maximizing your profits as you reduce waste and shrinkage. As an inventory focused ePOS provider, Saledock offers a dedicated stock application which provides retailers with an effective, easy-to-use stock management solution. Saledock’s unique offering provides a complete end-to-end solution for your retail business and integrates with popular accounting software, Xero as well as payment providers Dojo, Paymentsens and SumUp. With a wide range of high quality, tried and tested hardware, Saledock is your one stop shop for all things retail.
Why not sign up for a free trial and see how Saledock can help you to grow your retail business while relieving the pain of complex stock management. Create your account today.
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