We’re pleased to have Robert Lockard step in with a guest post and share his thoughts on the What, How, and Where of Inventory Management. This is his installment on Inventory Management Systems.
Read more about Robert after his article.
In my last post I gave a word to the wise about the why’s of using inventory management software. This time I’m going to delve into the details of what, where and how to manage a warehouse.
The purpose of a warehouse is to store parts and products that you need to fulfill customer orders. So it makes sense that you want to stock up on products your customers want and avoid holding onto a bunch of slow-selling products that will just sit in your warehouse for months. That’s what we call lean warehouse management.
The “What” also means what warehouse processes and warehouse metrics you need in order to meet demand and customer satisfaction. Often times, this means making use of a critical tool in warehousing, the warehouse management system.
To keep your warehouse lean, start by tracking sales trends to see which are your most popular products. We’ll get to how to do that in a minute. By figuring out which products are your top sellers, you can make smarter decisions about when to reorder products, how many to order and which locations to send them to. Plus, you can set up your warehouse to make it easier to get to those hot sellers.
Even if you have all the right parts and products in your warehouse, if they’re not well-organized and easy to find they won’t do you much good. You need to have an efficient system for receiving products, putting them in the right places and then locating them when an order comes in. But it’s not just the stuff inside that you should be concerned about, but you should consider where the distribution center should be located.
A good way to set up your warehouse is to group products together. Find out which products customers often order together and then store them near each other. Sometimes the connections can seem obvious (like peanut butter and jelly), but other times you might see buying patterns you wouldn’t have guessed without doing some research. Also, you should put your top-selling products close to the warehouse entrance to save time on receiving and shipping.
The best way to identify what your top products are and where you should store them is to use warehouse management software. With barcode scanners, you can track orders, sales and more. Then they can filter all that information into reports, revealing information that would otherwise be tedious to compile. To find the right products to ship, you can use those same scanners to lead you through a map of your warehouse.
It can even help you monitor seasonal trends. If a product is popular during the summer, but not the winter, you can only stock up on it during the right time of year and not be stuck with too much the rest of the time. For manufacturers, you might consider using manufacturing inventory software to not only keep your warehouse well-organized, but also to speed up the production process with multilevel bills of materials, automatic work orders and other tools.
Next time I’ll talk about the positive results you can expect by using lean inventory management tactics.
About Robert Lockard
Robert Lockard works at Fishbowl, the maker of the No. 1 requested inventory management solution for QuickBooks users.
Robert is a prolific writer, having written more than 600 blog posts, hundreds of Web pages and dozens of news articles. He studied public relations at Brigham Young University and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 2006.
He has written on a variety of subjects, such as real estate, online marketing, QuickBooks inventory management and film reviews. Robert lives in Orem, Utah with his wife and two children. He loves running, biking, reading and watching movies with his family.