What's a Single Best Practice for Inventory Management?

What's a Single Best Practice for Inventory Management?

Seeking the most effective strategies for inventory management, we turned to seasoned operations experts for their single best practices. From investing in sophisticated Inventory Management Systems to maintaining accurate inventory records, discover the invaluable six tips shared by top professionals, including Supply Chain Managers and CEOs.

  • Invest in Sophisticated IMS
  • Implement Real-Time Tracking
  • Adopt FIFO Inventory Management
  • Utilize Cycle Counting Systems
  • Focus on Demand Planning
  • Maintain Accurate Inventory Records

Invest in Sophisticated IMS

The most valuable investment when managing inventory is operating with a sophisticated inventory management software system (IMS). Alternatively, an operating system or software that is capable of maintaining the item parameters, providing efficiencies and agility for the business. Depending on the industry and operations, customization for your business needs may include the utilization of a barcode/scanning system or a complete warehouse management system. Simply maintaining the accuracy of item parameters such as lead times, economical order quantities, forecasts, historical demand, seasonal trends, cycle counting, and parts classification/categorization, all contribute to the success of inventory management. Reducing and/or eliminating carrying costs and excess inventory. Implementing technology is also a value-added tool; for example, integrating RFID technology and exploring IoT options, which allows tracking inventory in real time.

Georgina FenningNational Supply Chain Manager

Implement Real-Time Tracking

One indispensable best practice for inventory management is maintaining real-time inventory tracking. I remember working with a startup in the retail sector that struggled with frequent stockouts and overstock issues, leading to lost sales and increased holding costs.

We implemented a real-time inventory tracking system that integrated their sales, warehouse, and supply chain data. This system provided up-to-the-minute visibility into inventory levels across all locations. One memorable instance was when a sudden spike in demand for a seasonal product was detected. Thanks to real-time tracking, the team could quickly reorder and redistribute stock from less popular items, preventing stockouts and maximizing sales opportunities.

Niclas Schlopsna
Niclas SchlopsnaManaging Consultant and CEO, spectup

Adopt FIFO Inventory Management

One best practice that has proven crucial is implementing a first-in, first-out (FIFO) system for inventory management. FIFO ensures that older stock is used before newer stock, which is particularly important for perishable items like flowers.

By organizing our inventory so that the oldest stock is always at the front and used first, we can minimize spoilage and ensure that customers receive the freshest products possible. This practice also involves regular inventory checks and adjustments to maintain proper stock rotation. For instance, when new flowers are delivered, they are placed behind the older stock, ensuring that the older flowers are used first.

For students or newcomers to inventory management, I suggest starting with learning the basics of inventory rotation and implementing FIFO principles. Using inventory management software that supports FIFO can also streamline this process. Regular training for staff on proper inventory handling and storage techniques is crucial to maintaining the effectiveness of this system.

Staci Anderson
Staci AndersonDirector of Marketing, Raynor Garage Doors

Utilize Cycle Counting Systems

Maintaining accurate and up-to-date inventory records is paramount in our business, where we offer a vast array of kitchen cabinet models, finishes, and accessories. Traditional periodic physical counts can be time-consuming, disruptive, and prone to human error. We have implemented a cycle-counting system to monitor and validate our inventory levels continuously.

At the heart of our cycle-counting program is the use of advanced inventory management software that integrates seamlessly with our e-commerce platform and warehouse operations. This technology enables us to track every product movement, from when it enters our facility to when it is shipped to a customer, with unparalleled precision.

The data collected through our cycle-counting program provides valuable insights into product demand, usage patterns, and inventory turnover rates. Armed with this information, we can fine-tune our forecasting models, streamline our replenishment processes, and decide which products to carry, discontinue, or feature more prominently on our website.

Josh Qian
Josh QianCOO and Co-Founder, Best Online Cabinets

Focus on Demand Planning

I think one best practice for inventory management is demand planning. You can increase your forecasting accuracy by utilizing data from multi-channel retailers to estimate future demand for each product.

Improving demand planning in retail inventory management comes with numerous benefits. Perhaps the most significant is ensuring that stock levels are maintained at an optimal level, minimizing the risk of both stockouts and excess inventory, which can negatively impact the business.

Additionally, effective demand planning can enhance customer satisfaction by ensuring that products are available when needed. It also improves operational efficiency and reduces costs by reducing the need for manual intervention and increasing the accuracy of planning. Ultimately, improving demand planning can have a positive impact on the bottom line.

Arturo Gutierrez
Arturo GutierrezDirector of Merchandising, Todays Wholesale Closeout

Maintain Accurate Inventory Records

The best practice for inventory management that I've found indispensable is maintaining real-time inventory tracking. This approach allows us to monitor stock levels accurately and avoid discrepancies. We implemented an automated system to update inventory when a sale occurs or new stock arrives. This method prevents overstocking and understocking, ensuring we always meet customer demands.

Another key practice is regular inventory audits. At Polar Engraving, we conduct bi-monthly checks to verify the accuracy of our automated system. During these audits, our team physically counts the inventory and compares it to the digital records. Correcting errors promptly keeps our operations running smoothly and maintains customer satisfaction.

We prioritize supplier relationships. Building strong connections with our suppliers ensures timely deliveries and helps us anticipate potential delays. Open communication channels allow us to adjust our inventory levels proactively. For instance, when we foresee a high demand for custom-engraved bricks, we coordinate with suppliers to stock up in advance.

Patrick Calman
Patrick CalmanCEO, Polar Engraving

Copyright © 2024 Featured. All rights reserved.