3 Inventory Management Trends That Will Take Shape in 2017

Meagan Douglas
Fri, Feb 10, 2017
Supply chain management trends are helping companies meet their logistical challenges.
Supply chain management trends are helping companies meet their logistical challenges.

Warehouse management is always evolving, and companies must keep up with new happenings in the industry if they hope to outlast their competitors. The following are three major supply chain management trends that are helping companies meet their logistical challenges:

1. The World of IoT

More than ever before, warehouses are turning to IoT technology to better meet customer demand. According to CISCO, Daniel Dombach, director of Industry Solutions for EMEA at Zebra Technologies, said that customers want their products faster than ever before, and to do that companies must be aware of what they have in stock and understand how their supply chains and supply chain management procedures work.

"This is where IoT comes in," said Dombach. "It is about retrieving data from all the sensors and transforming it to business valuable information."

IoT technology not only helps managers run a more efficient warehouse, it helps them easily connect to stakeholders, suppliers and other employees around the world. This is critical during an emergency situation, whether that's caused by a natural disaster or a simple product shortage during a busy time of year.

Download the white paper, Warehouse Automation Trends: Four Warehouse Management Technologies to Transform Your Digital Supply Chain.

2. RFID Revolution

More and more warehouses are purchasing RFID devices that allow managers to track down products and their specifications in their facility quicker. 

We also believe the future holds a place for mobile data collection software that allows managers to populate barcode labels or RFID tags with data located on their company's enterprise resource planning system. Further, these devices enable warehouse leaders to choose their desired label design format to meet their facility's specific needs.

RFID tagging helps managers keep more accurate stock of their inventory. This is critical because overstocking can cause items (particularly food products) to go bad, and under stocking can result in delayed shipping times and lost customers.

3. Greater Real-Time Visibility

Whether it's with electronic data interchanges or automated programming interfaces, warehouses today are leveraging new technology to gain greater insights into their supply chain and supply chain management procedures.

It's no longer good enough to know that a customer received his or her package on time and without damage. Warehouses want - and need - to analyze big data so they can better understand every leg of that product's journey.

If you'd like to take advantage of these three growing industry trends and integrate them into your company, here are three things to consider before doing so:

1. Develop a Strategy
In a previous article we wrote, we outlined five tips that could help warehouse managers create a well-oiled supply chain strategy for 2017. They include:

  1. Understand how your supply chain strategies and business plans connect.
  2. Analyze your current supply chain and supply chain management strategies.
  3. Work closely with your team and third-party vendors.
  4. Choose the right solution.
  5. Implement the plan.

Now, many managers may look at these five steps and think that it's something they can easily implement in a week or even month. However, as we describe in that article, it often takes a considerable amount of time and resources to do so. 

2. Focus on Teamwork and Collaboration
You'll struggle to integrate new technology and processes into your warehouse operations if you're trying to do it alone. Make sure you form a great team of experienced individuals who can:

  1. Stay updated on the latest trends in technology and supply chain management procedures.
  2. Understand how to implement a supply chain and supply chain management strategy.
  3. Figure out how to use new solutions and teach their employees.

3. Always Look Ahead
Just because a manufacturer introduces a new supply chain accelerator to the market doesn't mean innovation stops there. That manufacturer is already hard at work on the next automated data collection solution - whether it's online or offline. Make sure you and you employees are always ready for the next big thing in data collection.

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