Inventory management can be an emotional rollercoaster sometimes.

There’s software issues, human error, problems with the distributor, and as soon as you think you’ve gotten it all straightened out some new wrinkle comes up and suddenly your SKUs are all out of whack.

Starting to sound a little familiar? Every warehouse manager or inventory specialist has faced these issues sometimes, and it can start to get a little maddening after a while. If you keep encountering the same common issues in inventory management, we’ve got a few breakdowns of why they happen and what you can do to prevent them going forward:

 

1. Poor performance tracking

A lot of inventory issues can be cut off at the pass, as it were, by better performance and metric tracking. Too many warehouses fall in the trap of only checking the more obvious metrics; things like shrink, shipments, and the like. This can help prevent theft or item damage, but might not give you a good holistic picture of your inventory levels and where you stand on certain items.

The solution:

Start by reviewing your current inventory metrics and implementing changes where needed – you may want to start tracking more specific and high-level metrics such as fill rate (the number of orders that are met through immediate stock availability without backorders, cancelled orders, or lost sales) and inventory turnover (a ratio showing how many times an item or group of items are sold in a particular time period). Monitoring these metrics as often as possible, daily if you can, can help give a better idea of your overall inventory performance and help monitor sudden changes in inventory level.

 

2. Insufficient training on inventory management

A number of factors can play into this – the perception that your business vertical will always struggle with inventory, a lack of proper planning and foresight, etc – but in many cases, inventory issues can be traced back to insufficient training on the part of the workers, no matter what division they work in.

The solution:

The most obvious solution is proper, thorough training on everyone that comes in contact with your inventory, but the solution isn’t always quite that easy. Try to recentralize your inventory management – if managers, clerks, and other employees without specific inventory-based training are making decisions related to inventory management, you can quickly run into a ‘too many cooks’ situation. Reduce the amount of hands that touch the inventory counts, and make everyone that still needs to gets the exact same training and practice with the software and warehouse storage involved.

 

3. Errors in data entry

Even above and beyond training issues, manual data entry can increase the risk of input errors due to a number of factors like human error, incorrect reporting, and so on. Manual input can take up more time than is necessary and can lead to much bigger issues down the line with incorrect inventory levels and misreported data.

The solution:

Don’t be afraid of the word “automation”. You’re not scaling back your workforce or implementing expensive warehouse upgrades, you’re simply trusting some of the more time-consuming work to computers. Implement software solutions and barcode/RFD scanners to help keep track of inventory and manage it after its been scanned; this will help your workers focus on more productive tasks and will reduce inventory errors in the long-term.

 

4. Lengthy picking times

Even if it doesn’t result in lost items or inaccurate counts, the amount of time it can take your workers to locate items and pick them for outbound shipments or inventory transfers can really begin to hamper your overall inventory strategies.

The solution:

This can require more physical renovations than the other suggestions but they’ll be worth it in the long run. Try to not get your SKUs confused; by keeping SKUs of similar product types in the same location on your pallet racks or wire shelving you can reduce travel time and prevent misplaced or miscounted item counting. Also, remember that it costs more to pick vertically than it does horizontally – best-sellers, items that often group together, or similar SKUs should be kept on the same shelf with slower-performing items placed above it on the rack.

 

Got any other tips for preventing inventory management issues? Leave a comment below!

2 Responses to “Four Common Issues In Inventory Management – And How To Solve Them”

  1. Jonathon says:

    In order to maintain items that will be needed for orders and placements and to eliminate those unwanted, it is important and healthy for businesses to make plans. Very effective tips from you.

  2. Gregory says:

    Inventory control software is an easy to use, quick to deploy inventory control software system that increases visibility and control of all inventory management processes. Inventory software customers benefit from increased accuracy, improved service levels and reduced inventory management costs. Inventory management software applications for public warehouses, manufacturers, distributors and companies needing a powerful program for inventory solutions.

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