What Retailers Need to Know About Inventory Management for 2016

Meagan Douglas
Fri, Jan 22, 2016
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Innovative inventory techniques go from abstract to concrete in 2016.

The new year is a time to look back on what business practices proved successful and plan for the needs of the future. As retailers study their current warehouse operations, they have to keep one eye on innovations positioned to become industry standards. Here are a few inventory management practices that could make or break a company in 2016:

Omnichannel Branches Out
It's increasingly apparent many businesses avoid choosing between brick-and-mortar stores and ecommerce channels by attempting to incorporate both in their business practices. Organizations can limit themselves to providing optimum service over a few select platforms, but technology and software solutions allows more companies to operate with an omnichannel model.

This affects warehouse management because inventory employees must prep orders pouring in from numerous sales channels. Managers may need to segment warehouses to allocate stock for physical stores or online orders. Many businesses supply their inventory staff members with mobile data collection devices so they can reference particular details from ecommerce, store and management demands to plan picking paths and shipment preparation on the floor.

Warehouse data collection software solutions in 2016 may need to reference information from new channels. The Inventory and Supply Chain Optimization blog suggested channels that directly affect warehouse management strategies have recently expanded to include social media. Inventory managers can use social platforms to share data on best practices and recommendations for supply chain activities.

Efficiency is the Key to Staying Competitive
The Motley Fool said most industries should expect higher prices for oil in 2016 than the previous year. If businesses used cost-efficient fuels to motivate growth, 2016 is the time to cut back and create more efficient and sustainable operations.

Modern technology provides a variety of resources to help supply chain logistics management obtain efficiency. Companies can collect data from warehouse orders, delivery trucks and consumers to plan the shortest or most productive distribution routes. Inventory managers can practice efficiency on a smaller scale by utilizing similar automated data collection solutions in picking paths.

Efficient operations not only help companies preserve resources and eliminate waste, they can also create excellent marketing materials. Modern consumers like eco-friendly businesses. If an organization uses it warehouse data to communicate preservation of resources and reduced carbon output, it can stand out from competitors.

Smarter Technology in Warehouse Management
Organizations can achieve efficiency by working smarter. Manufacturing.net said companies plan to reduce steps in processes and eliminate redundant tasks by implementing the Internet of things into shop floors. More companies in 2016 will use manufacturing machines that can report progress and monitor production using automated data collection procedures communicated over an online system.

Warehouses use similar devices to move inventory and scan packages and containers for important information. A distribution center may have a conveyor belt in the middle of the floor or forklifts equipped with connected sensors. Advanced robotic workers able to remove items from shelves or place merchandise might also become more prevalent. GizMag shared the example of a flying drone that can perform inventory administration in a warehouse space.

Employees take part in the information system by using mobile data collection devices. Wearables should prove increasingly popular as workers utilize hands free options like voice picking to prepare orders and perform audits.

Personalize Service by Giving Customers What They Want
Big data allows businesses to learn more about their customers. Using this knowledge, companies can deliver personalized service and encourage patronage through special incentives. Marketing, sales and customer service all use consumer data to provide information and answers customers need to hear.

Chain Store Age said inventory managers can use customer data to ensure customers never come across empty shelves. If an organization keeps a complete record of demand, it is able to use predictive analytics to supply each of its locations with appropriate stock levels.

Warehouse workers should also reference consumer requests on mobile automated data collection solutions to see if they have special needs and communicate daily activities. Marketing and sales teams must know if the business can meet the unique customer demands recognized by the software system. Ecommerce customers are often convinced to make a purchase based on delivery options, so warehouse employees need to report performance.

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