Category: Inventory and Order Management
Many reasons can cause problems with a retail business – poor pricing, location, not enough stock, poor planning, all of which can lead to unsatisfactory customer experience and ultimately, failure.
It’s important to understand why a project failed to learn for future success. How can things be different? How can you succeed next time? If you explore reasons for failure, you can use that information to help avoid it in the future.
Location might not seem important, but it is – especially if you’re thinking about international expansion. What do customers in that country expect of their local businesses? What do employees expect? What are the various business and employment laws? If your business is local, it’s crucial to know who your customers are and where they are. Keep these things in mind when deciding where your store will live.
Even in your home country, pricing is important for similar reasons – what do customers expect? How far will your customers travel for your products? Can the area support your pricing structure? If your competitors are charging much less, which store will shoppers pick?
Make sure your prices reflect your shoppers’ budgets, and that you can keep up with pricing of your competitors.
Not Enough Stock
Exceptional warehouse control, real-time inventory management, and communication between the distribution center and your ERP system are crucial to maintaining customer satisfaction. Think about it – who wants to shop for groceries in a store that doesn’t keep enough fresh produce in stock? or milk? or bread? Similarly, when shoppers look for clothes, they want to go to stores that carry their styles and sizes.
The other side of this problem is too much inventory because you don’t know how much you need. If you order a million dollars in inventory and don’t sell it in a timely manner, your money is losing interest because it is tied up while inventory sits in the warehouse.
Use an exceptional integrated ERP system to increase productivity. Here are ways your ERP system can help with this.
There are many things to consider, such as fraud, theft and security, and even training. When working with other parties or their software, unexpected obstacles and delays may be introduced, such as schedule conflicts, terminology misunderstandings, errors, unexpected expenses, and customer service issues. Being on the alert for this and working with experienced businesses and trading partners will go a long way in helping your projects stay within budget and on time.
Determine your detailed plan of action items and include the names of the individuals who will be responsible for those tasks. Hold them responsible for the work assigned to them and require a weekly status report on completed tasks and road blocks encountered. This is especially important when implementing critical software for your enterprise.
In more than three decades, the biggest mistake we see companies make is to not create an action plan that covers all aspects of implementation. For more valuable information about Implementing your ERP system, download our “Ten Tips for a Successful ERP Implementation” paper. Whether you’re considering a new ERP system or you’re just beginning an implementation, this paper will help you keep your implementation within budget and on time.
We are proud to announce that we have been named a Multichannel Merchant Top Commerce Platform for 2017, part of a list of leading commerce platform providers selected by the editors of Multichannel Merchant. With this listing, users can see InOrder’s featured capabilities, ideal client types, equipment and systems, contact information, and more.
To see what makes InOrder so special, call us at 888- 667-7332 for a free demo.
Shoppers want to know what they’re buying before they buy it. They want to know if they’ll like a product, how it works, and what others think about it. They also want to know about you.
Embrace your Comparison Shoppers
The InOrder RF communication system efficiently handles inventory through real-time inventory tasks, improving productivity and control for major warehouse functions.
One InOrder site reported that, after rolling out InOrder RF in their warehouse, the inventory receipt processing went from an average of 20 line items per hour to 55 line items per hour, per person, and is now 90% paperless. Some helpful tips include receiving products for many of their vendors that do not provide bar codes by printing a bar coded copy of the vendor PO to use during receiving, using dry-erase boards on their put-away carts, and reviewing a receipt variance report to expose and correct any discrepancies.
InOrder’s RF Communication System supports any internet-capable device. One option includes the Janam XT1 mini tablet, which uses the Android operating system. Another option uses the following configuration: IPod Touch, 5-16 gb ($159, Ebay) with Honeywell Captuvo SL22 Enterprise Sled ($304, Ebay), and Dryrain Technologies’ Enterprise Browser for Captuvo® app ($99).
For more information about InOrder RF, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Placing labels with barcodes on your products helps quickly identify them and can help prevent mistakes during picking, Point of Sale (POS), and physical inventory.
While inventory labels are usually produced when inventory is received into a warehouse, putaway, or transferred to a POS location, they can also be produced any time after a SKU is defined.
Four different types of inventory labels can be produced using the InOrder Inventory Labels Enhancement:
Label sizes are 2”x1” or 3”x1” and are printed with either of two fonts: the 3 of 9 barcode font (available with InOrder), or the Code 128 font from barcodewiz.com. The ISBN label uses only the Code 128 font from barcodewiz.com.
Fast and Efficient
Labels can be printed by SKU, by receipt, or by purchase order before receiving the items. Simply identify the label, the item, pricing information when applicable to the label, and the number of labels to print. The label can be identified, previewed, and printed from the same InOrder window.
For more information about the InOrder Inventory Labels Enhancement, contact email@example.com.
Inventory management has come a long way. In today’s fast paced, Internet-connected world, customers are not willing to wait for a product to be “made to order,” and then shipped in six to eight weeks. They expect it much sooner. This creates the need to stock the product in the warehouse so it is available for immediate shipment when an order is taken. When one firm offers rapid delivery by carrying stock, competitors are generally forced to do the same. And so goes the path of improvement for both businesses and consumers. You want your business to be the one in the lead. Here are five lessons you can teach your competitors about inventory.
Lesson 1 – Keep Fill Rates as High as Possible
If stock is depleted from the warehouse, and a customer’s order cannot be filled within a reasonable or requested amount of time, the customer will often cancel the order and then re-order from a competitor that has stock available.
Lesson 2 – Preventing Attrition is Critical
Once a customer switches to a competitor, it may be much harder to get future orders from that inconvenienced customer. You don’t want to lose the repeat customers that you worked so hard to build up over time.
Lesson 3 – Increased Order Cycle Time Increases Shipping and Fulfillment Costs
For customers who are willing to wait out the backorder fulfillment process, shipping and fulfillment costs will be higher, especially if the order requires partial shipments as stock becomes available. Delayed shipment notices may need to be sent to customers, and the liability for unearned cash prepayments with backorders must be tracked. The cost of filling separate backorders may exceed the profit of the original order, and the only remaining argument for filling the backorder will be to prevent customer attrition.
Lesson 4 – Inventory Turnover is Important
Inventory turnover measures the performance of your investment in your inventory. Carrying too much stock in the warehouse puts a burden on an organization’s cash flow, which can easily outweigh benefits that may be offered for “ordering in bulk” in excess of near-future demand. Carrying too much stock on hand also increases the risks of theft, damage, and obsolescence to inventory on hand during long-term storage.
Lesson 5 – Accurately Forecasting Demand is Critical
Obviously, forecasting is vital for keeping your inventory investment as low as
possible without negatively impacting fill rates. The ability to forecast customer demand accurately is advantageous for obvious reasons:
- It improves customer satisfaction.
- Shipping and fulfillment costs are reduced when orders can be shipped complete at once.
- Inventory quantity on hand is more level, which controls costs and reduces the risks associated with carrying excessive inventory quantities.
Demand forecasts developed within the inventory system must be generally consistent with planning numbers generated by the marketing and other departments. However, your ERP system must use inventory forecast methods that are proven most useful with inventory systems, rather than forecasts generated by marketing or budgeting departments. It is important that inventory forecasts be made by SKU, by warehouse location, and by time unit. Merchandising managers may perform SKU forecasting based on demand history, and market managers may perform forecasting based solely on the predicted sales curve of catalogs. If the marketing department is planning an unusually big promotion and expects to sell three million units of an otherwise unpopular product, and the merchandising department forecasts project a total demand of only one million units, senior management must reconcile these very different visions of the future. While you may influence your customers with pricing, catalogs, and promotions, customers ultimately will order what, where, and when they desire.
The heart of an organization’s forecasting success is knowing how customers will order. The best way to control inventory to your advantage is through an ERP system that plans for future actions of your customer base.
We say a lot about the eCommerce and Customer Service functions of InOrder. Along with everything else, the foundation of the InOrder system is its order processing and inventory, which brings you a number of benefits that permit you to process orders and track inventory under a variety of scenarios. This flexibility keeps inventory accurate at all times and provides the order department with the tools they need for fast and accurate order processing.
InOrder’s Inventory system is functional and practical. You can check everything you need to know about an item from one convenient window. Check the on-hand quantity, how much is available, backordered, or even when the item was last shipped or received.
If you need more details for the item at a specific location, you can drill-down to details, check units by cost or location, or see quantities printed, packed, picked, and in the warehouse.The Warehouse shows the sum of the quantity available for stock allocation, plus the quantity allocated to orders being picked, plus the quantity already picked and packed into boxes that are in the process of shipping.
Call us at 888- 667-7332 for more information about Inventory Management with InOrder, or to request a demo.
Packing materials are not things you think about every day. But if you ship orders, you have to consider how important they are to your customers. You have to think about boxes, padding, packing tape, and other supplies to take your merchandise safely to your customers. You need to make sure your packing materials keep your merchandise clean and protect it from damage that may occur from the environment outside the box. Packing is serious business when you ship orders, and it can considerably add to the cost of the merchandise.
One concept to consider in packing materials is advertising. Inserts and catalogs are great, but using packing materials to encourage your customers to place more orders is brilliance. There are many ideas, such as printing pictures of items you sell with taglines. Because of the expense, it might be worth discussing a cost-sharing arrangement with your vendors to purchase boxes printed with their logo. Likewise, vendors might consider printing boxes with their logos and making them available to their distributors.
Often, when I get a package delivered in a plain, unmarked box or simple padded envelope, I see missed opportunities. That unmarked box, which traveled from who-knows-where, could have been broadcasting the brands it carried all along the delivery route. Sometimes, though, when I get a package delivered, I see evidence of a smart business that took advantage of a great opportunity!
The nature of the beast, when it comes to multi-channel distribution services, is an environment that has grown to be out of necessity. It all started with a shipping manifest system. The warehouse grew, and we needed to manage this new warehouse, so we brought in a WMS, which, by the way, had some great features we needed for building our kits. We needed to handle more calls, so the order management system was brought in for consumer direct orders, and then a contact management system for the B2B sales people’s orders. This was so successful for the business overall, but the accounting was becoming a nightmare, so the Accounting people put in some systems they knew already, for receivables and payables, payroll, and oh, a commission system for sales.
Then emails became a thing, so the growing IT Department acquired a customer service email system for that, and eventually found a vendor to do their email marketing. Finally, the Internet happened, so now we keep our inventory on a web store too. Half our customers and orders are coming from there, and going to different places.
When the websites took off, the Purchasing Department had its own PO system brought in, but then they grew and added some hosted forecasting software to use with the Marketing people, who also have a library of spreadsheets and apps for promotion analysis, key code tracking, web specials, and even a cross-sell/up-sell system.
What just happened? Now each of these systems has its own “experts” that the company relies heavily on, but anyone else (especially management) who does not use one particular system every day feels like they are in a foreign country if they need to access it instead of their own department’s system. Management across the board needs to have information from the other systems, so naturally they protect their own data that they have access to. This is their hostage, to use in the daily political negotiations to trade for the data they need from everyone else. Silos of data, built tall throughout the organization, can be a dangerous thing.
I.T. may step in to help with this problem by (guess what?) setting up another system, called a “data warehouse.” A system to sit on top of all the other systems, and pull data from them into one place. (Yes, unfortunately more data feeds, but for the greater good, right?) So eighteen systems now. Much to the dismay of the Accounting department, the numbers never seem to match across systems, but Marketing usually does not mind.
To make matters worse, the eighteen systems we listed above all have monthly or annual maintenance costs, occasional required upgrades just to keep them working properly on the latest version of Windows or with each other, and these crazy “feeds of data” going back and forth all over the place. The I.T. Department is always trying to keep these feeds going successfully, some as if they were donkeys going up a steep mountain trail. Worse yet is when data needs to be entered or regularly corrected in two or more places manually, such as the WMS and the Website.
Is there a better way? What if we combined some of these systems into one “enterprise wide” system (and maybe two or three add-ons)? In most cases, the argument made by the individual departments, for this type of environment, (cherishingly referred to as “best of breed”) is that each system has some compelling feature that we cannot live without (like the WMS’s kitting feature). Features we would lose if we paired down to a single system across several departments. This is rarely true. In most cases, the combined system either already has the feature (if you dig deep enough) or the feature can be added to an enterprise system. But ask yourself, if this compelling feature was reviewed by upper management, could it be deemed a “sacred cow”, which no longer “aligns with the overall goals of our organization?”
Another argument that could be made against having a single system is that we would be putting too many eggs into one basket. If the single system goes down, would the entire organization be stuck? Anyone familiar with the Theory of Constraints understands that any of these systems could be causing a bottleneck. As it turns out, keeping eighteen systems up and running is eighteen times harder than keeping one system up and running. It also turns out that enterprise level systems are built to be more disaster-proof because they know from the ground up how much more they are relied on.
A true enterprise distribution system breaks down the silos of hostage data, requires less overall maintenance costs and resources, and most importantly, it gives management direct access to a clearer, more accurate picture of what is happening at any point in time across all departments, vital for best informed management decision making.
Several RF processes provide lists from which items are picked or putaway one at a time. After the RF task is complete, the RF user is redirected to the list for the next item. This guides the RF user through the process with the intended path options selected by default.
The RF Bypass features allow your RF personnel to switch between two basic modes of operation, each equally useful depending on the RF task. Here is an example of how this would make your warehouse personnel more efficient:
For Inventory “Manual Putaway:” We have a large amount of inventory (in “general bin XYX”) and need to put it all away to respective bins for each SKU. When loading some of this inventory onto a cart or skid, there are two modes of operation:
- Mode A=”USER TELLS COMPUTER NEXT ITEM” – The RF device shows a list of the items to putaway. The RF user picks each item to load onto the transport device one after another until all items are loaded.
- Mode B=”COMPUTER TELLS USER NEXT ITEM” – The RF device tells the RF user the next item on the list to put away. The RF user finds the item to load onto the transport device one after another until all items are loaded.
Using security privileges, you can allow your RF users to switch between both methods. To switch from Mode A to B, the “Bypass” button is used. To switch from Mode B to A, the “Go Back” button is used. The Mode used might be based on personal preference, or it might be based on how the inventory to be arranged or handled.
When using Mode B =”Computer tells user next item,” an item may also be skipped, which moves the item to the end of the list. If the skipped item is found while the batch is still open, the item can be un-skipped, and putaway or received.
This feature may be used for all of these RF operations:
- Guided Putaway
- Manual Putaway
- Guided Picking
- Physical Counts
Each of these RF operations has a separate security privilege to determine which mode a user/group will automatically be in, as well as a host of privileges to control which buttons or options they get in each operation.