Specialized inventory management functions became mainstream within large businesses following the development of the barcode in the 1960s. Small and medium-sized enterprises, such as many breweries, have typically not enjoyed the same efficiencies that larger companies have been able to gain from investing in inventory management. Modern inventory management software has opened up all of the key benefits of precise inventory management to smaller operations. Software as a Service (SaaS) inventory management software can help brewery managers throughout the beer production process, from planning new brews through to sales debrief. Here are five key ways that inventory management software can benefit a craft or microbrewery.
Planning a new brew can be a complex process of trial and error, especially for breweries that specialize in unorthodox beers. Although beer traditionally involved simple ingredients – such as water, yeast, barley and hops – inventory managers within breweries now have to contend with herbs, spices, fruits and other boutique ingredients. Inventory management software makes it simple to keep track of the ingredients used in a brewery. For example, the ‘Bill of Materials’ and ‘assembly’ functionalities within inventory management software allows a brewer to easily program a recipe into the inventory management package and then update stock levels according to the recipe and output.
It’s a fact of life that some beers will sell better than others! Inventory management software enables brewers to tap into sales data to analyze sales performance. Although it is unlikely to be the only factor a craft brewery uses to determine which beers to produce, this analysis can inform the decision to keep a particular beer in the rotation or to swap it out for another idea. This analysis can also identify slow moving product before it goes bad, creating options to extract at least some return.
Beer recipes often demand precision in order to achieve both the desired flavor and the highest possible grain-to-glass yield. Achieving this level of accuracy can be difficult using paper-based or spreadsheet systems. And when the brew does go wrong, inventory management software allows for the accurate tracking of all ingredients – making it simpler to pinpoint the source of the issue and to identify other potentially affected products.
Stay on Top of the Financials
While brewing can be a labour of love, it is also a commercial endeavor, so it is important to keep track of financial metrics. While a craft brewery’s goal is typically to produce a premium beer, it remains important to understand the total cost of brewing a bottle of each beer that the brewery produces. Bill of materials functionality can assist in accurately determining cost for a specific product, informing pricing and production decisions. Inventory management software can also be used to identify areas of waste that drag down the performance of the brewery as a whole.
As demonstrated by crowdfunding bids by craft brewers such as Renaissance, ParrotDog and Yeastie Boys, many craft breweries do need to scale up at some stage. At the point that a brewery is dealing with large number of orders and managing relationships with investors, there is much less room to manage inventory via a clipboard or a spreadsheet. Inventory management software, on the other hand, is designed to scale up as a business grows.
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.