What Does the Future Look Like for Inventory Management?

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Technology is changing the way we operate and it’s changing at a rapid pace. Software and automation are becoming more and more prevalent in the way we do business. Just look at the way we manage our warehouses these days – it used to be a notepad or spreadsheet, but now online inventory management is taking the lead. With real-time, up-to-date information, it has streamlined warehouses around the globe.

Online inventory management connects businesses and suppliers and keeps communication at the forefront. This shift in technology happened over a relatively short period of time and there will inevitably be more changes in the near future. So, besides online inventory management systems, what else does the future hold for warehouses and inventory around the globe?

Mobility in the warehouse

Smartphones are also proving to be more and more capable than ever before. With app development expanding, the potential for use in the warehouse is growing. For instance, barcode scanning apps can already be downloaded onto phones. This means the use of expensive scanning machines is becoming redundant.

Mobile phones are becoming extremely powerful and can manage more data with every year. Since cloud-based systems are becoming more popular, businesses can use mobile phones can now manage inventory with up-to-date cloud information from the palm of their hands. Could it be possible that inventory will be managed completed off of mobile phones? Will desktops and workstations become redundant as we move into more remote work environments for managers?

Voice-directed workflows

Modern warehouses are looking to incorporate voice-directed picking. This is a newer technology that allows for a hands-free solution for getting products off the warehouse shelves. It harnesses the capabilities of artificial intelligence to guide workers toward inventory located throughout the warehouse. This minimises employee training time. When a worker starts, they need to become orientated with all parts of the warehouse and when they don’t know what aisle something is in, they wander and waste time searching. Instead, a voice-directed picking guides workers with an audio tool directly to the product. It supports them in the packing and shipping processes as well. Moreover, it encourages workers to double check the inventory to make sure they selected the right item.

AI contines to be a game changer

There is no doubt that artificial intelligence will continue to be one of the biggest game changers in the future of inventory management. For example, artificial intelligence can help a company incorporate chatbots on their eCommerce site. These bots can answer customer queries about what’s in stock, the price of items, shipping policies and so much more. This eliminates the need for someone to be staffing a chat channel. It can free up space for an employee to do work elsewhere.

Artificial intelligence can also guide business decisions through the results of running detailed analytics. These can include how to maximise warehouse space, production cost reduction and demand forecasting support.

Currently, machine learning is the most common artificial intelligence tool, which yields very reliable data analysis. It is a great tool to reduce human error and it is constantly evolving to become better.

It’s an ever-changing world of technology. Watch this space to see what happens in the future of inventory management.

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Melanie - Unleashed Software

Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.

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