Every warehouse has a unique product focus, space usage, and level of business, but all warehouses rely on inventory control. Keeping an accurate count of materials and products is a foundation for providing excellent customer service and spurring business growth.
Digital inventory tracking has become more than a convenience that’s nice for warehouses to have — it’s a necessity. The rapid digital expansion of the marketplace makes digital implementation more important than ever. But it’s also wise to incorporate more traditional approaches in inventory tracking for a clear view of the raw material, finished product, and operational inventory a warehouse contains.
Here are some guidelines in building a better inventory tracking routine for your warehouse.
Create practical reorder points for inventory in a warehouse
A reorder point equals the minimum amount of material or product a warehouse always needs on hand. If the number goes below that benchmark, it could result in shipping or manufacturing delays that will inconvenience both customers and business owners.
It’s a good idea to come up with a reorder point for each item well in advance. Doing so establishes baseline expectations and ensures better awareness when communicating with customers and staff.
Reorder points for certain items may fluctuate throughout the calendar year. For example, it’s more important to keep more holiday-related items in stock from October through December, but less so in spring and summer. Account for these seasonal shifts ahead of time.
Use the FIFO model
“First-in, first-out” means that the products that arrive at your warehouse the earliest are the first ones to be shipped out the door. This method is especially important to follow if your warehouse stores perishable goods. If fruit that’s been in your warehouse for ages is delivered after newly arrived fruit, you risk sending customers rotten product.
But FIFO is vital to remember with non-perishables as well. Companies are always changing their products or marketing strategies. They may send out certain items with special promotional packaging, or good that have been completely redesigned. Maintaining the sequential approach of FIFO keeps your warehouse from shipping items at inappropriate times.
Integrate with a digital warehouse management system
Digital technology is the single biggest boon to warehouse management in the last half-century. While there’s still a need to keep hard-copy data (more on that in a minute). The speed and automatic capabilities of digital inventory management are crucial in maintaining a healthy warehouse.
A strong digital inventory system also provides you with a complete, pictorial overview of your warehouse operations. It can issue notifications when it’s time to reorder, maintain records of product arrival times, and reconfigure data in ways that are useful and easily interpreted.
Invest in barcode scanners and management applications
Hand in hand with digital trackers, barcode scanners can seriously cut back on the time it takes to track warehouse inventory. Every item in your warehouse — including raw materials, vehicles, or tools your employees use — can be affixed with a barcode and scanned as easily as retail items.
When paired with effective management apps, scanners help warehouse managers keep total awareness and control over their goods and products. They can keep track of per-unit prices, manufacturing expenses, backordered items, and other information that can be directly shared with customers.
Regularly audit inventory with digital and physical records
Scanners, software, and automation make inventory data easy to accumulate and monitor. But having hard copies of inventory records on file is still essential. Whether you produce these hard copies through a digital application or by hand, they’re great backup for verifying accuracy. Hard copies also prevent your total loss of inventory data in case of a computer system crash.