The Risks of Not Tracking Your Inventory

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The Risks of Not Tracking Your Inventory

By Brandon Levey - 05/23/2016
Managing inventory properly is critical in any order fulfillment process. But that’s easier said than done considering the slew of factors affecting a business at any given moment that could throw a wrench in the process. Unfortunately, the tangle that inventory management can become results in loss of inventory, money and even customers.
 
Yet many organizations are lagging in adopting technology and processes that would avoid those risks, resulting in manual workflows that are time-consuming and prone to error. These manual workflows also hinder productivity, ultimately wasting resources and affording less than optimal services to the customer, which could have damaging effects in the long-term. All of this is compounded by external factors, such as delays caused by delivery services like FedEx and UPS, as was reported this last holiday season.
 
To avoid these pitfalls, a new approach to the order fulfillment process needs to be adopted. For instance, a simple and easy first step in this direction is barcode technology—a lot of companies use barcode-scanning technology to establish a more efficient process to their warehouse operations. Barcodes can enable quick scanning of all the items in a given box to not only allow employees to count what “should” be in the box, but also identify items that might have been inaccurately placed in the box. The process occurring before packaging and mailing is also streamlined through accurate cycle counts of all inventory and verifiable item picklists for shipping. Human error will always be a factor, but this technology can drastically lower the cases in which it could have a lasting and negative impact.
 
There is also the problem of issues that arise in the delivery process, which organizations often have little control over. To mitigate these issues, companies should aim to optimize every element of the fulfillment process that is in their control. Companies do have control over the amount of time that is wasted between receiving an order and it leaving their facility, and they should always work to minimize it.
 
If an organization is scaling quickly and doesn't have the resources internally to assure efficiency, third-party logistics providers (3PLs) can help manage fulfillment to optimize the customer experience. The goal is not to be slow and then rely on two-day shipping to get a product there in time. Timing in the order fulfillment cycle is imperative when businesses can’t trust carriers to stick to scheduled delivery times. Using a 3PL to manage warehouse and shipping logistics can help get inventory out days earlier to leave room for any delays that could deter customers in the future.
 
In all, small steps toward optimization like these can mean faster employee training, previously lacking versatility, and better data, just to name a few benefits. Why waste employee time on tedious manual workflows that can be automated? Why depend on data that can be prone to human error when technology is available that makes collecting and digesting information a simple and intuitive task? Why depend on the efficiency of partners or other companies when efficiency can be introduced from the outset?

-Brandon Levey, CEO, Stitch Labs