What does continued inventory growth mean for U.S. wholesalers? Companies like Costco and IKEA that distribute massive amounts of inventory and maintain large stockpiles of goods on site need to keep accurate and up-to-date records. Recent data from the U.S. Department of Commerce suggested that large scale distributors and wholesalers need to invest in the technology and equipment necessary to foster transparency in their supply chains.
Growth Strong in Certain Sectors in June
While inventories at U.S. wholesale distributors rose 0.3 percent in June, this figure is somewhat softened compared with previous months, wrote Manufacturing.net. For instance, there had been 1.7 percent increase in restocking during the second quarter of 2014, which reflected strong economic activity. In the meantime, wholesale revenue rose 0.2 percent, which is 0.5 points lower than the figures for May.
The industries that have seen the greatest activity in inventory management have been furniture and computer equipment, as well as building materials like lumber and steel. Wholesale distributors that cater to the back-to-college crowd are likely the ones pushing for stronger inventory levels as students are the most likely to need furnishings for housing and electronic equipment for their studies.
At the same time, the Commerce Department report illustrated the fact that sales and inventory levels are roughly the same in wholesale centers, meaning they'll likely continue to maintain the same amounts of goods or add more as demand increases. No matter which direction the economy pushes distributors and manufacturers, it's imperative that they retain strong inventory management through the use of data collection software and tools.
Automated Data Collection Needed for Improved Accuracy
Both manufacturers and distributors that manage significant stockpiles of goods need to keep precise records. A recent RFgen white paper, "8 Signs You need an Automated Data Collection Solution," explored the reasons organizations need accurate metrics to ensure they don't do irreversible damage to their business operations and partnerships. On one hand, the technology needed to keep real time measurements of inventory levels has increasingly become more affordable. Digital tools are accessible to small and large-scale operators.
In addition to being affordable, these tools are easy to use, requiring limited training time for employees. In fact, employees using automated data collection solutions, such as barcode scanners, RFID and voice, can learn to collect and validate inventory information in half the time it regularly takes for them to acclimate themselves to new solutions.
Voice Delivers Strong Inventory Management
Meanwhile, accuracy is a priority for all organization, and automated data collection tools help them achieve this objective. For instance, voice picking provides roughly 99 percent precision, while barcode scanning regularly results in 98 percent accuracy. The RFgen video "RFgen-Vocollect Voice vs. Screen & Keyboard Bulk Picking Comparison" clearly illustrates the strengths of the voice-enabled data collection solution. As opposed to manually entering information on a screen and keyboard picking device, the Vocollect Voice system was able to pick 10 stock keeping units in half the time. This gives employees more time to ensure the data collected is accurate, and inventory can be managed more effectively.
Armed with this solution, organizations are in a much stronger position to keep track of their goods as they flow in an out of their distribution centers. In doing so, manufacturers and distributors can maintain strong relationships with customers and clients. Because all data is accurately stored in real time, all stakeholders can be confident that the supply chain will remain strong and efficient.