Managing multichannel inventory requires clear and concise inventory strategies to combat the challenges associated with multi-platform sales. By increasing visibility, working with supply chains, reconciling inventory, connecting systems, and managing safety stock levels, you can improve multichannel inventory management.
Offering visibility throughout the business
Visibility is key to improving order fulfilment times and customer satisfaction. By integrating management needs through online inventory management, the time needed for stock control is minimised, and inventory management can be optimised throughout your operation. Visibility allows for faster order fulfilment because of the accessible data providing the nearest location of a product for shipping. This also works on a larger scale with the ability to restock items from the nearest warehouse if a store runs out.
Another issue is that of segmented supply chains. This can be costly because of the steps required to complete an order in a supply chain, and it offers more opportunities for delayed or missed orders because of the many parties involved. By streamlining your supply chain, these risks are lessened and order fulfilment can be less affected.
Regular inventory management can also be problematic when numbers don’t line up. With manual stocktaking, human error, incorrect documentation, inaccurate returns processing, or simply the lack of real-time information can be costly.
Minimise this by investing in online inventory management systems. Using barcode technology minimises the risk of human error or inaccurate processing, and ultimately improves the issue of real-time data by allowing for continuous tracking throughout your warehouse and stores. This has a run on effect, allowing for improved customer satisfaction due to stock availability and improved store management.
Managing it all under one roof
Connecting management systems is necessary if your business spans across multiple locations. By investing in online inventory management systems, the availability of products can be found regardless of location and allows for stores to search other stores or warehouses for product availability.
Online inventory management enables real-time tracking of product availability and therefore avoids unfulfillable orders and customer dissatisfaction. By integrating management into one system, all inventory can be treated the same, with data being made available regardless of location. This allows for visibility throughout your businesses, and can, therefore, offer real-time stock information to those in different locations.
Likewise, the ability to integrate shipping into the same interface allows for easier management of stock and order fulfilment. Online inventory management also enables an easier method of item returns that will automatically update inventory counts. This is crucial for multichannel businesses who run across multiple platforms and locations.
Optimising safety stock levels
Limiting the amount of money tied up in safety stock is difficult. It is important to be prepared in case of stock shortages, but that money could also be spent elsewhere. With the data gathered from online inventory management systems, accurate sales forecasts can help to estimate the level of safety stock required, and therefore optimise your inventory.
Managing multichannel inventory is challenging because of the scale of the operation and the logistics involved. By focusing on improving visibility, streamlining suppliers, reconciling inventory, managing everything in the same online inventory management system, and optimising safety stock levels, your multichannel business can run more efficiently.
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.