What is Automated Inventory Management? A Detailed Guide
Inventory management is one of the challenging parts of running a retail business, especially if you operate multiple sales channels. You’d have to handle inventory tracking, warehouse management, order fulfillment automation, tracking your sales data – the list is just endless.
While you can handle all these processes manually, doing so is downright impractical. If nothing else, it will lead to painful inventory control errors, which can be costly to fix. Additionally, it will rob you – and your team – of the time you would have otherwise spent on marketing and product development.
What to do: integrate an automated inventory management system into your operations. Not only will this lead to effective inventory management but will also supercharge your bottom line.
In this post, we will be taking a deeper look at what an automated inventory management system is all about, the benefits they offer, the key features to look for in them, and how to implement them correctly.
Let’s get right into it!
What is an Automated Inventory Management Software?
Automated inventory management refers to the use of technology and software systems to streamline and optimize the process of tracking, monitoring, and controlling inventory – and orders.
These systems enable you to automate most of your inventory management processes, such as stock tracking, order fulfillment, replenishment, and reporting, which were traditionally performed manually or using outdated methods.
By leveraging an automated inventory system, your business can achieve greater accuracy, efficiency, and get accurate inventory data at your fingertips. In addition, they can save you and your team the headache of manually managing your inventory with a spreadsheet, which is time-consuming and heavily prone to errors.
How Automated Inventory Systems Benefit Apparel Businesses
Leveraging automated inventory systems to manage your processes does offer a lot of benefits. Here are some of them.
Automation significantly reduces human errors, such as manual data entry mistakes or misplaced inventory items. This ensures accurate inventory records and minimizes discrepancies between physical stock and recorded quantities.
Time and Cost Savings
Automation eliminates time-consuming manual tasks, freeing up employees to focus on more value-adding activities. Additionally, optimized inventory levels and streamlined processes reduce carrying costs, excess stock, and potential stockouts.
Automated inventory management systems streamline workflows, reducing lead times and improving order processing speed. This translates into faster order fulfillment, improved productivity, and better overall operational efficiency.
By providing real-time updates on inventory levels, location, and status, automated systems offer you a clear and accurate view of your inventory at any given moment. This enables timely decision-making and facilitates proactive inventory control.
Scalability and Adaptability
Automated inventory management solutions are designed to accommodate growing businesses and changing needs. They can easily scale up to handle increased inventory volumes and adapt to new processes or technologies.
How Do Automated Inventory Control and Management Systems Work?
Automated inventory control and management software utilize various technologies, such as barcode scanning or radio frequency identification (RFID), to track and monitor inventory items. Each item is assigned a unique identifier, enabling real-time visibility into its movement within the supply chain.
This information is stored in a centralized database, which serves as a single source of truth for inventory-related data.
By tracking this data, you can easily tell when the stock level for a particular product SKU has gone down and needs replenishment.
These systems are also capable of providing you with detailed insights into your marketing and sales operations. By so doing, you can accurately determine the best sales channels for your products, as well as the retail right pricing strategy to adopt for maximum profitability.
Key Components and Features
How do you know if an automated system is good for your business? While there are no hard-and-fast rules for that, knowing the key features to look for in a system will help definitely help.
That being said, here are some key features to look for in an automated inventory management solution.
A good inventory solution should be able to track your inventory across your warehouse and supply chain.
What’s the point of using an automation software if it can’t assist you with demand forecasting? Automated inventory management systems can analyze historical sales data, market trends, and other factors to generate accurate demand forecasts. This helps you optimize inventory levels, minimize stockouts, and avoid overstocking.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
A good automated inventory management solution should have an ERP module, as this makes it easy for you to managed every aspect of your business.
The automation of order management processes ensures seamless order processing, including order placement, order fulfillment, and order tracking. It enables you to maintain optimal stock levels, reduce lead times, and enhance customer satisfaction.
Replenishment and Stock Optimization
Automated systems can automatically trigger purchase orders or production orders based on predefined rules, ensuring timely replenishment of inventory. This feature alone can help your business minimize holding costs while meeting customer demands.
Reporting and Analytics
You will want to get real-time insights into your inventory performance, stock turnover, and other key metrics. Having information at your fingertips enables you to make informed decisions, identifying trends, and optimizing inventory strategies.
Tips for Implementing An Automated Inventory Management
Now you’ve seen the many benefits an automated inventory solution offers, you are probably ready to get started with it. If so, here are tips that will help you implement one properly.
Define Your Goals and Requirements
Before selecting and implementing an automated inventory management system, clearly define your goals and requirements. Identify the pain points in your current inventory management process and outline the specific outcomes you hope to achieve. This will guide your selection process and ensure that the system aligns with your business objectives.
Consult With Your Team and Other Key Stakeholders
Successful implementation of an automated inventory management system requires the involvement and support of key stakeholders across your organization. Involve individuals from various departments, such as operations, warehouse management, purchasing, and IT. Their input and insights will help ensure that the system addresses the needs of all relevant parties and facilitates smooth integration with existing processes.
Provide Adequate Training
Proper training is crucial for successful adoption of the automated inventory management system. Ensure that your employees are trained on how to use the software effectively, including navigation, data entry, reporting, and troubleshooting. Offer both initial training sessions and ongoing support to address any questions or challenges that may arise.
Conduct a Pilot Test
Consider running a pilot test of the automated inventory management system before implementing it organization-wide. Select a specific product line, warehouse location, or a small subset of your inventory to test the system’s functionality and performance. This allows you to identify and address any issues or fine-tune the system before scaling it up across your entire operation.
Monitor and Evaluate Performance
Regularly monitor and evaluate the performance of your automated inventory management system. Set up key performance indicators (KPIs) to track metrics such as order fulfillment time, the accuracy of inventory records, stock turnover rate, and customer satisfaction. Continuously analyze the data and make adjustments as needed to optimize the system’s effectiveness.
Move Your Business Forward With Uphance's Inventory Automation
Ready to move your business forward with the right inventory management system with powerful automation capabilities? Why not try Uphance?
Uphance is an apparel inventory management system uniquely designed for fashion and apparel businesses. It offers automated inventory check-ins, order syncing with Shopify, WooCommerce, JOOR etc., invoice generation, and many more.
Other features that make Uphance a worthy inventory management partner include:
Robust Warehouse Management module
Customer Relationship Management
Production Order Management
Start a free trial right away to experience the true capabilities of Uphance.