For e-commerce, retail, and restaurants
Inventory management for retail revolves around stock takes, or physical inventories, conducted on a regular basis.
Inventory control system for e-commerce
E-commerce companies may use ShipStation to manage the processing of orders from multiple marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, or their own websites. Orders come in from the marketplaces, and go out as they are shipped. At no place in the this process, however, is a record kept of stock on hand. Companies using this type of process can add Finale to the backend warehouse management system to keep track of stock on hand. Finale's ShipStation integration communicates with ShipStation behind the scenes through a software API to watch the orders as they are marked complete, and to copy the orders into Finale automatically to record the changes to stock levels.
Using Finale in combination with shipping software allows e-commerce companies to avoid stock outs, and to implement a more systematic stock replenishment process based on reorder thresholds. For further explanation of ShipStation integration please see: ShipStation inventory management.
Inventory management for retail
Retail businesses that manage register transactions separately from their orders and inventory tracking follow a stock take process similar to restaurants, but not always on such a frequent basis. The inventory management side of the operation includes purchases and stock takes, and maybe transfers between locations, but generally does not include the individual sales. In other words, like the restaurants, the inventory management process for retail businesses may include direct record keeping of the purchases and periodic record keeping of the stock counts. On the basis of these records, the retail business can ascertain the quantities of products sold or otherwise dispossessed, from which it may calculate reorders or forecast trends over time.
Retail businesses that manage register transactions with a POS system face the problem that most POS systems can only keep track of quantity on hand for a single point. If the business has multiple registers or multiple locations, the quantity on hand records at each point are of marginal value because they are not integrated. Finale's cloud stock control system offers an integrated solution for retail businesses that use registers that keep transaction logs (which are available for only a few hundred dollars, the Sharp XE-A507 being an example). At the end of the day or at whatever desired interval, you can take the memory sticks from the registers and upload them into Finale to upload the transactions from each memory stick into the shared record of stock on hand in the cloud inventory system.
Stock control for restaurants
For a restaurant, a stock take may be a daily or weekly operation in which the sous chef or shift manager takes count of all the food item quantities in the kitchen, from which a reorder can be calculated based on reorder points, and from which on a grander scale the business managers may detect loss or fraud based on inconsistencies with tickets, and may forecast trends or seasonal fluctuations based on the array of stock takes over time.
Cloud stock control for multiple locations
When stock is stored in multiple locations and sometimes sub-locations, a company faces the issue of keeping its records consistent. This the area in which cloud inventory management software systems shine, because the records are kept consistently at data center in the cloud. For example, a chain of restaurants or retail stores may keep track of its inventory across multiple stores as separate locations, and may or may not care about a more detailed sub-location specification. A large kitchen for a restaurant or a stock keeping warehouse in a retail business on the other hand may care a great deal about the sub-location level of detail. In general, keeping track of stock levels entails keeping track of quantities per location and sub-location.
Some types of products such as perishables have expiry dates or other properties identified by lot or batch. Analogously, some types of retail products have serial numbers. Thus stock may not just be quantities of a particular product, but of a particular lot.
Stock control software
Retail businesses, restaurants, and e-commerce companies often use a combination of systems to run their business. The front end register systems may themselves include inventory tracking capabilities sufficient for businesses with a single location and simple needs, but when the business grows beyond the simple inventory management needs, companies can replace everything, or more often than not, choose to start using inventory management software in combination with the register systems or accounting systems.
Examples from Finale Inventory
Here are a few example videos of using Finale Inventory.
Keeping track of lots/batches of a particular product