As a wholesale company, inventory is your livelihood. What inventory to buy, where to source product from and how to sell product to customers are all important factors to consider in managing your business for growth. In order to sell inventory, you must also properly track and manage inventory. Streamlined picking, packing and shipping processes, and multiple warehouse locations and sales channels are just a few factors that can help make sure you provide customers with the product they want when they want it.
The best way to manage your wholesale business? Use the right inventory management tools. If you’re not sure what tools are available and which ones are appropriate for your business, look no further than this blog post. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most important tools for wholesale inventory management.
(1) ERP Software
Let’s start with the basics. Inventory management software provides functionality for managing inventory from purchase through to sale. Although solutions will vary in the functionality they provide, watch for features to handle multiple units of measure, serialized items, re-order points based on lead times, inventory counts, barcode scanning, warehouse transfers and bin and shelf locations. Consider inventory management software with built-in accounting functionality such as an ERP system so that you can also create purchase orders for new product, manage backorders, process RMAs and create sales orders. ERP software also allows you to report on information stored in the system across departments, such as sales by customer by product or sales by product by date. As you will see from the functionality below, ERP software is the backbone of inventory management in which all other functionality can integrate for complete control over your inventory and business.
(2) Wireless Barcode Scanning
With a large warehouse space, it is important to organize product by bin and shelf location for easier picking. To further simplify the picking, packing and shipping process, wireless barcode scanning enables users to scan items at the source. Barcodes get scanned during the picking process so that users can identify and correct inventory shortages or picking errors immediately. In certain cases, users can pick substitute product or flag items for backorder. Since you can integrate wireless barcode scanning with your ERP system, the order gets updated in real-time. An added bonus? Wireless barcode scanning works on iOS devices such an iPod touch or iPad – often cheaper alternatives to traditional handheld scanning devices.
To learn more about inventory management, download our eBook on Inventory Management Techniques.
(3) Mobile Sales App – RepZio
Inventory management is an important aspect of the sales process, especially when selling through multiple sales channels. For companies that employ outside sales reps or frequently attend tradeshows, it is important to use a system that has the ability to manage inventory in the field. For example, mobile sales applications such as RepZio can help you take orders and scan inventory in the field. Inventory information is live linked between this system and your back-end ERP solution so that inventory information is available in real-time. This means orders placed in the field do not have to be re-entered when back in the office and product gets shipped quicker. This also means that you’re able to sell inventory from multiple sales channels at the same time – no need to worry about inaccurate inventory levels when away from the office and warehouse.
(4) Lot Tracking
Although not required in every industry, in those that it is, lot tracking is an integral part of inventory management. Lot tracking or batch tracking allows a business to track specific lots (or batches) or product from the supplier through to the customer. Lot tracking records which customers received specific lots of product, and when they were received. Lot tracking also records the date and supplier in which the items were purchased, and manages product expiry dates. As you can tell, this type of wholesale inventory management functionality is very important in specific industries and when dealing with products such as food and pharmaceutical. Lot tracking also helps reduce the impact of a product recall in that only affected product - identified by lot number - gets recalled.
(5) Document Management
Document management is an important part of wholesale inventory management in order to easily record, store and retrieve documents related to specific inventory items. This includes spec sheets, warranties or maintenance documents. Essentially document management allows users to scan documents and gathers information in order to fill fields within your system and generate specific workflows. Users can easily retrieve documents from the system while in the field or in-house while speaking with customers and suppliers. This eliminates the hassle of managing paper documents and ensures all information relating to an inventory item is available at your fingertips with the simple click of a button. The idea is that users process and store documents through a document management system and then access the information within the ERP.
As you can see, ERP software is a great starting point for wholesale inventory management. As an all-in-one system, it allows businesses to manage their processes from beginning to end, streamlining operations and automating workflows. Other specific functionality for inventory management will vary by company and industry, but look for ERP that includes these additional features in order to implement a complete solution.