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Among the great many demands of proper inventory management, one of the most likely to result in issues down the road is inventory visibility.


What is inventory visibility?


“Inventory visibility” simply refers to your facilities’ ability to track and view inventory in real time, without having to rely on re-counts or inventory cycling. While regular inventory counts are still a crucial part of inventory management, focusing on inventory visibility allows you to have a better – and faster – understanding of how your inventory looks, in order to prevent future issues down the road.

Of course, like with every step of the inventory management process, maintaining proper inventory visibility can be a procedure all on its own. If you want better insights into your current inventory – or if your inventory visibility needs a little help to maintain accuracy – we’ve got a few tips for avoiding surprises with your inventory visibility.


Preventing Inventory Visibility Surprises


Overly-complex product configurations

One of the most common sources of issues with inventory management and visibility is when your product configurations are too complex or difficult to manage. If your warehouse tends to deal with products that can be reconfigured by the customer before they purchase, this can lead to increased SKUs throughout the warehouse, which can lead to overall confusion about what products need to go where, and how many you have.

If you have a lot of configurable products, focus on manually counting those products (and their related accessories) more regularly than other items. This will help keep your inventory management software up-to-date, and provide you a better idea of when these items need to be reordered or replaced down the road.


Shifting product locations due to demand


A lot of warehouses fall into the trap of moving their best-selling items throughout the inventory as demand rises and falls. For example, let’s say you stock an item that tends to sell very well through Q3 and Q4, but drops off in sales at the beginning of the year. You might be tempted to move this item to a more (or less) prominent location in the warehouse as demand increases or decreases, but this can lead to lost items, miscounts, and more.

Set a minimum sales threshold for what constitutes a ‘popular item’, and create dedicated spaces on your warehouse shelving for items that meet that threshold, even if it isn’t consistent throughout the year. That way, the next time you need an accurate count (and location) for your best-sellers, you’ll have a much better idea of where to find them.


Hard to count (or hard to find) items


Similarly, even if an item is in the same location year-round, but the size, shape, or location makes it more difficult for your teams to access, track, and ship, this can lead to inventory visibility issues down the road.

Think about longer items that need to be stored on cantilever racks, or anything that tends to move more quickly throughout the warehouse, and as a result needs to be stored on gravity flow racks. If you’re running into frequent miscounts or reports of stock-outs with certain items, take a look at where they might be stored, and then work with your inventory team to create a better process for how these items can be accessed, tracked, and counted when inventory time comes around.


These issues could apply to nearly anything in your warehouse – so the next time you think you’re encountering a miscount or an inventory issue, check a few of these common culprits to get a more visible inventory overall.

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