When most people think of inventory management, they think of someone counting and sorting boxes. In reality, managing the inventory is much more complex. It requires knowledge of the supply chain, the customer, and the industry as a whole. The warehouse is but one part of the supply chain; it must work in harmony with the other sections, or the business will struggle. A manager that understands the business as a whole will be able to make smarter and more profitable decisions in order to create an efficient warehouse.
Although every warehouse is unique, there are certain challenges of inventory management that are common to most businesses. Understanding and overcoming these obstacles is vital to the success of the business. Here are a few examples of those challenges:
Inefficient processes are somewhat common with inventory management, especially when using manual processes or outdated software. These can still get the job done, but efficiency is a huge concern. Inefficient processes can be found anywhere; take a look at every aspect of the warehouse, and determine processes that can be sped up. Technology is constantly improving, so it’s safe to say that everything will need updated eventually.
Knowing the inventory
A good manager will take a look at the items in the warehouse’s inventory. Certain products will always be in demand, while others might be in demand at specific times. Gaining an understanding of the products being sold, and how often each item sells out, will give the manager an organized timetable for the entire inventory. In addition, a manager should know when new shipments will arrive, how large the shipments will be, and where they will go.
Even though inventory management might revolve solely around the warehouse, it is important for managers to be cognizant of the entire supply chain. Visibility throughout the supply chain allows for more organization, and problems will be dealt with much faster.
A good number of warehouses manage products for customers. The warehouse manager must understand what the customers desire, and he/she must be able to deliver. Customers will switch their loyalty to another warehouse if their needs are not met. Eliminating inefficient processes and knowing the inventory are important for inventory management, but customers are what keep warehouses running. The goal of the warehouse is to get things done as quickly and efficiently as possible, but flexibility is definitely needed when dealing with customers.
In order for a warehouse manager to be successful, he/she will have to be efficient, knowledgeable, and accommodating. The ever-changing nature of a warehouse’s inventory makes for a job that is never truly finished.