Technology has led inventory management to the next level. Numerous different systems and technology are available right now to help the process. It is certain that checking and rechecking stock is a complex and demanding task. Yet, it is critical for the successful running of any retail or manufacturing business. In case any mistakes happen, they affect the business seriously in two main ways: cost and inefficiency.
As a game changer in the corporate world, technology is seeking to help ease these inventory management problems as well. The emergence of new technologies is increasingly helping to achieve this goal. In fact, the main purpose is to remove the manual elements of inventory management that are slow and open the possibility for errors. Several technology trends are leading this race to improve inventory management.
Here is what to expect in the inventory world in 2019 and beyond:
Cloud computing involves storing and accessing data & programs over the Internet instead of computer’s hard drive. In fact, the ‘cloud’ is a metaphor for the Internet. There is no doubt that inventory is one of the most important asset of retail or wholesale businesses, be it small, medium or large sized. The difficult part is real-time inventory visibility & tracking. It is always a big challenge and a definite area to be perfected and updated over time. A good way to save these major inventory issues is by implementing a system that has all data in one place, which is accessible to you in real-time and highly secured. Hence, cloud applications are replacing the on premise applications that are highly prone to errors and this helps to reduce a huge resource cost.
Big Data & the Internet of Things
‘Big data’ and ‘IoT’ are buzzing words nowadays and they go pretty much hand in hand. Big Data refers to massive amounts of human-generated data, which is a result of variety of sources – social media, transactions, enterprise content, emails, etc. On the other hand, the Internet of Things (IoT), turns things into smart objects or machines.
With the help of these technologies, the products in your warehouse or stores can be chipped with tiny sensors and you can track their movements on your phone through internet. It’s all about having control. For instance: these sensors or devices are connected to the internet or each other to collect and transmit data. Therefore, this information can become Big Data when it is combined with information from other sources, analytics of which can be used to device useful inferences and insights. IoT is greatly helping inventory management operations like warehousing, shipping, retail stores, etc, helping businesses not only react when they occur but predict and fix them beforehand. Indeed, tiny tags and embedded chips bolted into inventory racks will become a norm soon.
Omnichannel Inventory Control
A key concern for all supply chain professionals is customer effort in terms of interacting, engaging and purchasing from your company. In fact, measuring customer effort is one of the best ways to assess customer satisfaction and understand if you are delivering a great customer experience. Customers usually demand instant quality, quantity & availability which strains sellers to deliver great value at average costs. Omnichannel can be defined as various channels where customers interact and engage with your company in a consistent way.
In this way, companies get to know who their customers are and their experiences are consistent across all channels. Therefore, no matter which channels your customers use, they are able to get the same personalized experience. The omnichannel experience allows a business to appear as a single brand through different channels. However, very few organizations have mastered an effective omnichannel experience. Having an omni-channel business is a serious accomplishment. However, a successful one actually requires a major operational change and a streamlined omnichannel inventory control.
It is quite tedious to reconcile your digital and physical inventory count, and to ensure that your stock data is up-to-date across channels. For example: for customers, apart from availability and access, it is also essential that they find parity in prices & discounts across channels. Thus, an omnichannel inventory control platform is becoming a necessity.
Blockchain is now everywhere and it is quoted to be the most important technology invention, only after internet. It is known as a kind of revolution in data base and transaction management. It is a decentralized record of digital data or events of transaction that occurs between two parties.
The good thing about blockchain is the transparency; many users may access, inspect, or add to the data, but cannot tamper it, hence allowing high security and transparency of data which makes it easier and safer for businesses to work together over the internet.
There is no doubt that blockchain has the potential to transform the inventory management. For instance: from conducting payment and audits to tracking inventory and assets, blockchain technology will facilitate greater supply chain efficiency than ever before. Hence, every time a product changes hands, the transaction can be documented, creating an indestructible history of the product, from manufacture to sale. The advantages include: reduce time delays, added costs, and human interventions error that plague transactions today.
Nowadays, many businesses are going for RFID devices that allow accurate and quick tracking of products and their specifications in their facility. For example: handheld devices that emit corresponding signals will connect with the chip installed in the products to retrieve location, quantitative or qualitative data or any stock movement.
Taking such actions is very important because overstocking can cause items to get damaged and under stocking can result in delayed shipping times and hence lose customers. Additionally, stock security can be assured and any theft can be tracked. Moreover, RFID based tracking system is also employed to prevent trees extinction and deforestation in few places in few parts world. Therefore, this enables the detection & identification of cases of illegal logging of trees and hence preventing risks of species distinction and deforestation threats. After all, Nature is a priceless inventory.
Inventory management is one of the most crucial function in the supply chain. Technology has helped companies to be more efficient in achieving their inventory management goals. The best way to remain in the race and have a competitive edge is by adapting with the technological changes and implement more reliable strategies as far as inventory management is concerned. The best thing businesses can do is to remain open to these new possibilities and keep their organization running as effortlessly as possible.