Warehouse Inventory Management: The Ultimate Guide To Follow

When running a business, the most important thing you can do to keep your business afloat and successful is to practice proper warehouse inventory management. This is important no matter the size of your business but is especially imperative the more inventory you have to keep track of and coordinate. When your warehouse inventory is managed poorly, it can lead to a number of problems that can truly break your business down from the inside out. Unhappy customers, wrong shipments, misplaced items, and more are just some of the problems poor inventory management can lead to, putting your business in a precarious position. If you want to learn how to maintain inventory in a way that keeps customers happy and using your products or services, helps your business grow, and brings in revenue, then you’re in the right place. This Ultimate Guide to Warehouse Inventory Management will help you do everything you need to keep up with high demand, changing trends, new technology, and a growing company.

Three team members sharing warehouse inventory management organization files

Understanding The Importance of Warehouse Inventory Management

Whether your business exists online, in brick and mortar stores, or both, you must know that the secret to success lies in warehouse inventory management. No matter where you are in your business journey – whether creating a new, burgeoning business or managing a seasoned establishment – you must know that understanding the importance of warehouse inventory management is the first and most important step to making your business thrive. In the simplest terms, warehouse inventory management refers to keeping all your items and products organized while being stored and waiting to be bought by and sold to customers. It is estimated that $1.1 trillion of a business’ capital is tied up in its inventory, accounts receivable, and accounts payable, which means a huge chunk of your funds are bound with this single aspect of your business. With such a large amount of money on the line, it makes no sense that over 40% of businesses either use outdated inventory tracking methods like spreadsheets, manual tracking methods like pen and paper, or no method at all. There are a lot of reasons why a business may not keep good track of their inventory: they may not have enough staff to do so, their inventory may be too large to contain, or they may be too behind due to poor management practices that they can’t catch up. Whatever the case is, it is not wise to continue on without some warehouse inventory management system in place. Remember that not just any system will do – as you continue through our ultimate guide, we’ll provide some options perfect for your business warehouse needs.  

Upgrade: Why You Should Be Using Inventory Management Software

Are you one of the businesses using spreadsheets in Excel or pen and paper to keep track of your inventory? If you are, you need to upgrade your management as soon as you possibly can. These methods are not only outdated, but they also have a huge margin for error, making it both unwise and dangerous to continue with them. Upgrading to a new method is best done by using an inventory management software system. Software systems make inventory management easier in so many ways that you’ll wonder how you ever did business without it. Not only will you be able to keep track of your warehouse inventory in an organized fashion, but you’ll also be able to do full audits whenever you need or want to, draw up invoices, automatically reorder products, keep sales records up to date, keep track of inventory across warehouses, monitor trends, supply, and demand, and manage everything across multiple devices thanks to the cloud-based based system. You get easy integrations and access from anywhere, whether it’s your phone, laptop, or tablet, along with team members of your choosing.

Most software systems are cloud-based as well, which means that once you save data it will always exist somewhere you can access it and back it up. With the help of tech, you never have to worry about losing track of products in warehouses, meaning they’re always ready and on hand for shipment. This made even easier with the addition of barcode scanners.

Barcode Labels and Scanners

Part of your warehouse management upgrade should be the inclusion of barcode labels and barcode scanners. When you assign a specific barcode to each item, you always know where it is stored in your warehouse(s). It makes the item easier to track when en route to the customer as well as keeps items from getting lost or misplaced in the shuffle of everyday business. This is especially important when you consider how detrimental it is when items are lost or misplaced in the warehouse and when the customer is waiting for them. Slow delivery and lost items can turn a customer sour against a business and cause them to shop elsewhere. With this in mind, including a barcode scanner is an excellent decision because it gives you an advantage over your growing stock so that everything stays in order, nothing gets lost (which loses you money), and customers are always happy (which can only bring in more money).

Lots, Serial Numbers, and Why You Need Them

For further security when keeping track of products through the receiving and sales process it through the use of lots and serial numbers. While similar, lots and serial numbers share differences that make them useful for different business needs. Both are assigned to products during the production process to keep track of them and improve overall traceability, but this is really where the similarities end.

Lots, for example, are used for certain items like food, fireworks, and textiles like yarn and fabrics. In other words, lots correspond to a specific number of products assigned to a group of items with certain properties. This means that even if the items are not all the same, they share these certain similarities that warrant them to be put in a group together. Lot numbers provide an extra amount of accuracy for tracking manufactured dates, expiration dates, and more.

Serial numbers, on the other hand, are assigned to properties that may be different for stock items of the same product. This means that every single product has its own unique number, allowing that item to be tracked from packaging, shipment, delivery, and arrival. Serial numbers are often reserved for products like cars, appliances, and other electronics. Consider your laptop – it is one of many of the same model, but has its own unique serial number that keeps track of it should it get lost, damaged, or otherwise compromised. This serial number beefs up traceability quite a bit, giving your products extra security when they’re in your possession and when they move on to the customer.

Of course, lots and serial numbers only work with barcode scanners, meaning that without this element you’ll have a hard time keeping track of your own inventory. This all circles back to your upgrade, making your inventory management process smarter, sharper, and easier.

Two Warehouse Inventory Bins

Final Thoughts

Business management is always an adventure, so you want to embark with the right tools. Success may not always be guaranteed, but there are plenty of things you can to do help your business succeed over time. When you get rid of old practices like excel spreadsheets and manual inventory tracking and bring in management software and technology, it can really transform your business into something stronger and more efficient. While simple, we hope this streamlined ultimate guide provides you with the information you need to make your business into the epitome of efficiency and success. Remember, well-managed warehouse inventory results in a thriving business every time.

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