Inventory management is often overlooked as an area of innovation. As noted by the Boston Business Journal, while companies recognize that inventory oversight is critical for ongoing success, there’s often a disconnect between existing processes and evolving market expectations.
From collecting key data to reduce the risk of overstocking and monitor product movement on-demand to betting understanding the lifecycle of existing inventory to optimize warehouse processes, enterprises now have the opportunity to both enhance immediate outcomes and streamline inventory operations at scale. According to recent survey data, however, just 33 percent of organizations are leveraging data-driven strategies to boost their bottom line.
Cloud inventory management software can help bridge the gap between current policies and emerging best practices. But as the management market expands, how do companies find their best fit? Here, features form the foundation — let’s tackle the top six features worth finding in cloud-based inventory management solutions.
Tackling the Top Six
As cloud warehouse management solutions diversify, companies need to prioritize functions that facilitate operational success. While the cloud itself offers the advantage of computing power on-demand and the ability to scale up (or down) resource use as needed, the general application of this technology isn’t enough to deliver results across evolving warehouse requirements.
To ensure your cloud inventory management software is delivering both on-demand and over time, it’s worth prioritizing six specific features:
- Inventory optimization — The over- and under-stocking of items hurts your bottom line. Too much inventory sitting idle for too long means paying more for storage without enough revenue to balance these costs, and if inventory sits long enough it may exceed its useable lifecycle and result in no net profit for your company. Not enough inventory, meanwhile, makes it impossible to meet just-in-time expectations — if customers can’t get what they need, when they need it from your company, they’ll find another provider. Inventory optimization features ensure you always know what’s in your warehouse, where it’s located and how long it’s been sitting there
- Multi-site management — The global nature of production and manufacturing operations means that even small and midsize enterprises now leverage multiple warehouse and distribution sites to deliver agile inventory operations. The right cloud-based software helps you simultaneously manage these sites simultaneously to ensure your stock is in the right place at the right time
- RF data acquisition and application — End-to-end product tracking is quickly becoming a key component of effective inventory management. Where are products currently located? How long until they arrive? What’s their current condition? Support for radio frequency identification (RFID) is now critical to ensure you’ve got complete control over product location and condition anytime, anywhere.
- Cost calculations — What does carrying your current inventory cost? What if you add capacity or change stock levels? Cost calculation is a key feature of cloud warehouse management. You need comprehensive control over purchase order records, stock returns and other recurring costs to see exactly where you’re spending — and where you can save.
- Quality control — Inventory that’s damaged or destroyed doesn’t deliver revenue. But controlling for this potential problem requires the ability to quickly identify and remove defective items or production runs from your warehouse ecosystem on-demand. As a result, it’s critical to leverage inventory management software that includes quality control functions such as barcode scanning that let you easily track products in-house and update their status in-system to ensure you always have the most up-to-date inventory overview.
- Demand forecasting — As noted above, while organizations recognize the fundamental nature of inventory management, many lack the ability to capitalize on the massive amounts of data generated by the movement and monitoring of their stock at scale. Cloud-based demand forecasting tools can help companies deliver on current inventory needs and discover how their stock needs will likely evolve over time as consumer demands shift.
Conquer Complexity with the Cloud
Warehouse complexity reduces visibility and limits efficiency. If management teams can’t see where stock is located, how much is on hand and what it costs to keep just-in-time inventory operations up and running, enterprises lose both time and money trying to handle an increasingly complex process at scale.
The right cloud inventory management software offers the key features you need to gain operational transparency, enhance process efficiency and deliver long-term ROI.
IWI Consulting Group is a Sage software provider and Sage 300 inventory supplier. As Sage ERP solution provider, our Sage certified consultants can help your organization find the best-fit solution for distribution, process manufacturing, discreet manufacturing, financial and nonprofit. Let’s talk.