Being an inventory manager involves a varied set of skills. These skills need to span across a variety of touchpoints in a business. Not only do you need to manage the inventory, but you need to look after your staff who help you on the warehouse floor. It’s a crucial role that has responsibilities in many segments. Inventory managers play a key role in hiring and human resources, training, logistics, stock control, forecasting, and overall business growth.
There are many traits that make up a great inventory manager. It’s important to know how to balance the duties and where to put your focus. Sometimes stock control will seem like the most important issue, while other times supplier relationships will take a forefront. Some months it might seem like warehouse organisation will take a priority and during peak months it will be busy with shipping logistics. No matter what, there are fundamental principles to address. These base principles will underpin what you do and lead to great inventory management.
One of the key tips to being a successful inventory manager is to build relationships. Internal and external relationships are important for developing rapport, gaining trust and maintaining a healthy and prosperous working environment.
Supplier relationships are important because your inventory is coming from them. You can build this relationship by visiting each other’s facilities and understanding each other’s needs. If you meet regularly in person, it will make interactions on the phone and email much smoother. If something goes awry or you urgent need to fill a large order, a good relationship will make these conversations easier.
Providing employees with proper training, and opportunities to provide feedback are great ways to instil trust and develop relationships. Keeping an open dialogue is important. If you are approachable, employees will confide in you. This means problems get addressed sooner and morale stays high between employees and management.
One of the biggest tools a great inventory manager can have is access to supporting software. Make technology your friend. Welcome cloud-based inventory software into your business. With real-time updates and access to live data reports from anywhere with internet, it’s obvious why cloud-based inventory software is on your side. It tracks inventory levels constantly and can help with stock control. You can integrate the inventory software with your eCommerce platform. This way, customers aren’t just hoping their product is in stock, they’ll instantly know if their product is in stock.
Predicting inventory needs
Forecasting is another fundamental to managing inventory stock. With tracking software, you’ll be able to identify buying patterns and analyse previous demand. These patterns help sculpt your future inventory orders. Forecasting becomes much more streamlined when there is software tracking inventory’s every move. This helps identify trends and highlights problems. For instance, dead stock could be taking up prime real estate on your inventory shelves. Forecasting software shows which products have sold and which ones it wouldn’t recommend purchasing again.
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.