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Why ignoring compliant barcoding solutions can affect your inventory management

The significance of compliant barcoding solutions

Regardless of the industry, you work in, it is becoming clear that the automation of manual tasks is becoming more prevalent. From robots in factories to self-driving cars, automation is slowly encroaching into our day to day lives, so why not take that concept and apply it to your warehouse. With compliant barcoding solutions, you can do exactly that. Automation is gradually taking over areas within supply chain management and one of those key areas is inventory management.

Automated inventory management is not a new concept, however, the way in which it is implemented can make all the difference. Automated compliant barcoding solutions have been readily available for some time now, but it seems that small to mid-sized businesses have been slow in investing in this type of automation. From our research it seems that there is still some doubt and hesitancy about investing in such technology, so that raises the question, do small to mid-sized businesses have a complete understanding of automated inventory management and how it can benefit their business and what are the hurdles that businesses face when considering barcoding solution for their stock control.

What is automated inventory?

Automated inventory management uses specialist software solutions to provide an audit trail and track all stock movements from the moment they are received to the point of despatch. It can also automate other daily tasks such as inventory planning, ordering, purchasing serial and batch tracking, reducing the number of manual tasks that would otherwise need to be completed by employees.

The above is not an exhaustive list when it comes to the benefits of automation of inventory management. A good automated inventory management solution will also help you to identify demand patterns, generate purchase orders based on forecasts, and help you to enhance your customer service levels by helping you to manage your costings and logistics, to ensure order fulfilment and reduce the possibility of price hikes for high demand items by always keeping a minimum level of stock.

Automated inventory management could significantly benefit many small to mid-sized warehouse businesses, so why is there still some hesitancy and doubt regarding the onboarding of this technology.

Why businesses do not use compliant barcoding solutions

When it comes to managing your warehousing, it can be hard to see past the processes and procedures that are currently in place. When it comes to new software and technology, many small to med-sized businesses are understandably cautious about investing as there are many obstacles to overcome in order to implement a new software or technology, but not attempting to overcome these obstacles can act as a barrier to your success.

“It takes too much time to implement”

Many small- and mid-sized businesses are pushing their employees to the max already, especially if all of your warehouse inventory management tasks are being completed manually. Naturally, many organisations may feel that there is no one in the company available that has time to take on a new project that will include hours devoted to research, negotiation, implementation, training, and maintenance. However, implementing a compliant barcoding solution doesn’t have to come at a loss of revenue in the interim. Our professional implementation team and seamless integration into your back-office accounts means that your current processes and fluidity do not needed to be affected negatively.

“It costs too much to implement a compliant barcoding solution”

Beyond taking up time, a new solution for automating inventory management does require an upfront cost. Naturally, small to medium sized businesses need to be cautious about these expenditures. However, when you use compliant barcoding solutions to manage your inventory, your return on investment far outweighs the upfront costs and will help to reduce your inventory costs even further over time.

“If it’s not broken, why fix it?”

This is a very enticing trap for many warehouses to fall into. Many organisations grow comfortable and often complacent with their existing processes and that’s great if they can’t be approved upon. However, by implementing barcoding scanning technology, your inventory management software can take your warehouse to the next level by freeing up internal resources and reducing costs to help your business grow.

If an organisation is too reliant on their legacy systems due to them working well in the past, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best option for your organisations future; especially if expansion is a strategic goal for you.

If your business is managing well with your current system, you may see no need to spend time or money on a new solution, but once you see the benefits of using compliant barcoding solutions, you will be asking yourself why you didn’t make the transition earlier.

 

Benefits of Automated Inventory Management

While the reasons above are all genuine concerns and barriers to not implementing automated inventory management, they are stopping your business from experiencing the reaping the benefits in the long run. 

We have put together a list below of what your business could gain by implementing automated inventory management:

Efficiency & Accuracy

A compliant barcoding solution makes your processes more accurate and efficient. By implementing this automated technology, you will be able to use the software to handle complex calculations and data analysis at a much faster speed than any employee could conduct. It also reduces the potential for human error, providing you with accurate data in real-time. Automated inventory management software analyses demand trends for all products in your warehouse and generates purchase orders and forecasts based on that data and your pre-set parameters (desired service level, stock turn, spending, etc.) freeing up time from your Warehouse Manager to enable them to spend more time proactively managing the warehouse and less time crunching numbers.

This rise in efficiency will echo down your entire supply chain, orders will be able to be processed faster, purchase orders will be generated quickly, and your suppliers and customers will see the smooth, speedy results, increasing your competitive advantage.

Scalability

Compliant barcoding solutions can grow with you as your business expands. Organisations and warehouses that are too reliant on their legacy systems could be missing out on potential for growth areas for the business.

With digitalization and globalization affecting distributors worldwide, supply chains are lengthening and increasing in complexity. Don’t let an outdated system or process be your downfall. Automated inventory management software will take over and help you pinpoint areas of growth and areas where you could be losing capital instead.

Free up time

This goes hand-in-hand with your business efficiency. By implementing automated technology, you can free up the time for warehouse managers and warehouse operatives meaning that you need to hire less temporary workers during peak seasons and enable your warehouse managers to have more time to pursue new projects and other tasks.

Increased profits

One of the main concerns of implementing automated inventory management for a SMB is how much money it will cost them. However, by only considering the upfront costs, many businesses are failing to consider the ROI the solution can bring to the company. By taking advantage of all the above benefits that automated inventory management can bring your business you will see a reduction in costs as well as an increase in profits as your business processes are streamlined and business efficiency is increased.

By implementing Stock Control for Sage for your inventory management needs, it will not only save your business time, but it will also continue to save your business money the longer you use it. With an automated solution, you can set KPI’s and have a true insight into your inventory costs. Your existing inventory will be evaluated based on its demand cycle and your solution will identify dying or obsolete inventory items. Stock Control for Sage can help you to minimize the money you have tied up in stock by helping you to manage your perishable stock and high and low demand items, helping to keep your customer satisfaction high by consistently being able to fulfil orders.

Don’t wait any longer to implement our PSS software

As your supply chain continues to evolve, you want your inventory management to do the same. Don’t get left behind; see how automated inventory management can work for you with Bit Systems.

Essential Sage inventory management techniques

Sage inventory management techniques continued

Sage inventory management is a highly customisable inventory management process. While the optimal process will be different for every company, every business can benefit from removing human error from stock control management, which means taking advantage of Sage inventory software.

We previously discussed several Sage warehouse management techniques that will save you money, and we are continuing that theme today by discussing several strategy specific goals to implement within your organisation that can complement your Sage inventory management solution.

The following five techniques will help you improve your Sage inventory management—and cash flow.

1. Set minimum order levels

Make your Sage inventory management easier by setting minimum and maximum order levels for each of your products. Minimum order levels are the minimum amount of product that must always be in stock and maximum levels stop you from overstocking on items. When your inventory stock dips below your predetermined levels, Sage inventory management can automatically raise a purchase order to replenish your stock level. This can be set as your “minimum reorder level”. Sage inventory management solutions always give you real-time data and a true insight into your warehouse, which means you can monitor stock levels at the touch of a button.

Although setting minimum order and reorder levels requires some research and decision-making upfront, having set levels will help you automate your process of ordering and make it easier for you to make more informed decisions quickly.

Just remember that conditions change over time, so it is worthwhile reviewing your minimum order and reorder levels on a regular basis so you can make changes accordingly.

2. First-In-First-Out with Sage inventory

“First-in, first-out” (FIFO) is an important principle of inventory management and most certainly an abstract concept to get to grips with. First-in, first-out is the technique of selling your oldest stock (first-in) first (first-out) and replacing your old stock with your newest stock. FIFO is especially important for perishable products, so you don’t end up with unsellable spoilage. Having FIFO in place helps you to avoid under-appreciating the costs associated with your inventory and therefore, losing money in the process.

FIFO is not only useful for perishable products; it can also be a good idea to practice FIFO for non-perishable products. Packaging design and features often change over time within industries and by ensuring that your oldest stock is always sold first you can minimise the risk of ending up with obsolete stock that cannot be sold.

3. Manage relationships

Part of successful inventory management is being able to adapt quickly. A strong relationship with your suppliers is vital, by building strong relationships, you will have more insight into the availability and lead times of products, get insights into new trends and hopefully solve any supplier issues faster. Whether you need to return a slow-selling item to make room for a new product, restock a fast seller quickly or troubleshoot manufacturing issues. It’s important that your stock control solution has this information readily available for you and a Sage stock control solution can help you to be more agile and adapt to changes in the market.

4. Contingency planning

In an ideal world, your operations would run seamlessly day in, day out. However, there are many issues that can be related to inventory management, if you don’t have the right stock control solution in place.  These types of problems can cripple unprepared businesses.

For example:

  • Your sales spike unexpectedly, and you oversell your stock
  • You run into a cash flow shortfall and can’t pay for a product you desperately need
  • Your warehouse doesn’t have enough room to accommodate your fluctuations in sales
  • Miscalculations in inventory
  • Obsolete stock takes up all your storage space
  • Your manufacturer runs out of your product and you have orders to fill

However, with an inventory management solution like PSS 50 or PSS 200, you can prepare to avoid these unexpected issues. PSS provides you with a solution to quickly capture stock transactions in real-time so your stock reports are always up to date, you can set minimum and maximum order levels so you never run out of stock or over order, you can check supplier balances and manage your cash flow as well as manage stock locations and bins to help maximise storage in your warehouse.

5. Accurate forecasting

A large part of effective inventory management comes down to accurately predicting demand. Make no mistake, this is incredibly hard to do, especially if your employees are having to do this manually. There are countless variables involved and you’ll never know for sure exactly what’s coming—but you can try to get close. Here are a few things to look at when projecting your future sales:

  • Trends in the market
  • Year on year comparisons
  • This year’s growth rate
  • Guaranteed sales from contracts and subscriptions
  • Seasonality and the overall economy
  • Upcoming promotions and industry news
  • Planned additional spend

Creating demand forecasts can help businesses to prepare for seasonal peaks and troughs as well as product trends and events that may change product demands in advance.

Take control with Sage inventory

With an effective inventory management system in place, you can help reduce costs, keep your organisation profitable, analyse patterns and trends that help you predict future sales and prepare the business for the unexpected. This gives businesses a better chance for profitability and survival whilst remaining competitive and agile.

PSS stock control for Sage can help you to automate reporting, trends, analysis and movements of goods.

It’s time to take control of your inventory management and stop losing money. Choose the right inventory management solution for your organisation and start implementing them today.

Sage warehouse management techniques that saves you money

If you are a business owner, particularly in the warehousing and logistics industry the words ‘inventory management’ can bring you out in a cold sweat. To different organisations, inventory management can mean many different things. If the first thing that comes to mind is large amounts of downtime and tedious manual counting, then we believe it may be time for your business to review your inventory management processes. It is common for businesses to reconcile their inventory levels at the end of the year by ‘counting up’ their physical products and this can require a lot of downtime and manual labour. With Sage warehouse management techniques, we believe you can maximise the efficiency of this process as well as save money.

As trends and advances in technologies develop, it is vital for organisations to realise how important effective inventory management is. If we think about inventory management in its most simple terms, your held inventory is a placeholder for your company’s money. Money that you have paid out for inventory, will be eventually recovered, but while that inventory is sat in your warehouse it is just a debit in your company’s bank account.

Holding inventory can tie up significant amounts of your company’s cash – and there are also indirect costs associated with managing high levels of stock. That is why effective and efficient inventory management is crucial for a growing organisation and just like cash flow, it can make or break your business.

The good news is, it is not too late to get the right inventory management techniques implemented.

 

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Why inventory management is important?

Before exploring the intricacies of inventory management, it is important for businesses to understand where you are now in regard to the management of your inventory. Are you just about managing to ensure you have enough inventory on hand and in movement to meet your customer demand or are you happy that your business is achieving a successful movement of inventory?

Sage warehouse management techniques can help save you money.

1. Avoid spoilage

If you are selling perishable products that have an expiry date, for example, food or makeup, then there is a high chance that the products will be spoilt if they are not sold in time. That combined with legal requirements of selling certain products within a set time frame means that without a system like Sage warehouse management, you run the risk of unnecessary spoilage.

 

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2. Avoid deadstock

Deadstock means that you can no longer sell those items. This doesn’t always necessarily have to be down to an expiry date. There are many other reasons you can have dead stock such as your items being out of season, out of style, no longer required or otherwise becoming obsolete.

With Sage warehouse management technology, you can have a system in place that acts as a centralised hub for all your inventory information. This means you can access data in real-time, anywhere; all at your fingertips. Sage warehouse management helps you to avoid dead stock by enabling you to access vital trend information like what products are selling well and which are not, allowing you to make decisions regarding price reductions or increases. Information and alerts on stock levels and pending incoming stock can also help you drive efficiency and more importantly, save money.

3. Save on storage costs

The warehousing industry can often hold variable costs for storage, meaning it fluctuates based on how much product you are holding.

By storing excess inventory and ending up with items that are difficult to shift, your storage costs will naturally increase due to holding stock. Sage warehouse management offers real-time data on any stock movements, adjustments or change and is easily tracked and updated. This pinpoint accuracy allows goods in and goods out to move fluidly and eliminates duplication of tasks, increasing accuracy and validating data in real-time to reduce errors.

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Inventory management improves cash flow

Not only is effective inventory management more cost-efficient, but it also improves cash flow in other ways, too. It is important to remember that you paid out cash for your inventory, and while it is there to be sold as revenue, while it’s sitting in your warehouse it is definitely not cash.

This is why it’s important to factor inventory into your cash flow management. Inventory directly affects sales (by dictating how much you can sell) and expenses (by dictating what you have to buy), and both of these elements factor heavily into how much cash you have on hand. In short, better inventory management leads to better cash flow management.

When you have a solid inventory system like Sage warehouse management, you’ll know exactly how much inventory you have, and based on sales data you can predict when that inventory will need to be replenished to make sure you replace it on time. Not only does this help ensure you don’t lose sales (critical for cash flow), but it also lets you plan ahead so you can ensure you have enough cash set aside for purchasing more inventory.

In our next blog, we will discuss different management techniques and strategy specific goals to implement within your organisation. Remember, money spent on inventory is money that is not spent on growth. To ensure you manage it wisely, contact Bit Systems to see how our inventory management systems can transform your business today.

High inventory levels: Overcoming the hurdles

High stock levels can be a problem for everyone

Small and mid-sized businesses often overlook the issues and costs associated with high inventory levels, and this can be down to a number of reasons. Some businesses just don’t have the time or human resources to address the challenge and others simply don’t have the right tools for the job. Both common challenges for small to mid-sized business, and equally damaging for cash flow, forecasting and reporting. However, surprisingly, high inventory levels aren’t only a challenge for small to medium-sized businesses; large enterprise corporations are continuously facing similar battles. In fact, the imbalances in stock levels occur in companies of every size and in every industry.

Many companies do not realise or take into account the costs that could be eliminated or the capital that could be released by effectively managing stock levels. And while there are times when it can be beneficial for companies to hold high levels of stock, no organisation can take full advantage of this delicate balancing act if they don’t have an insight into their data. This common dilemma makes it extremely difficult for warehouses, logistics and workers in purchasing or inventory management to know how best to manage their inventory levels.

So, what’s the solution? Is there a way to manage high or low inventory levels in a simple and effective way? Inventory management is a complex challenge with no universal solution and in our latest blog, we are going to investigate some of the factors that contribute to high inventory levels and the effects that they can have on a business.

Can high inventory levels work to your advantage?

Inventory management is a balancing act, constantly weighing up how to minimise the costs associated with inventory whilst still guaranteeing the delivery capability to ensure consumer demands are met in line with service levels. This balancing act can only be achieved by having a clear insight into your data, such as purchasing patterns, seasonality trends and up to date stock levels in order to be able to work efficiently. Methods and tools also need to be in place to give you a complete overview of your entire inventory.

By evaluating and calculating your supply chain key performance indicators, you can identify advantages to holding high inventory levels, however without the right software solution in place, you will not be in a position to evaluate them successfully.

Having higher inventory levels can help you to cater for higher than expected orders that have not been forecasted, however, without proper data analysis and insight into consumer and product trends, this can be a high-risk move, as it is not guaranteed that peaks in orders will occur and if they do for what product. This can mean that you face the carrying costs associated with stocking a higher than the required number of items.

By purchasing in higher volumes, many warehouses also have the advantage of a decreased price per unit when placing orders for inventory replenishment. However, this reduction in the price per unit needs to be compared to the costs of carrying the extra inventory, to determine whether the savings outweighs the carrying costs. By integrating our PSS software with your existing Sage Accounts, our advanced functionality can help you to avoid these issues by easily keeping up to date with stock rotation, purchasing patterns and seasonality peaks and troughs.

Do the disadvantages outweigh the advantages?

In simple terms, in our opinion, the answer is yes. Many organisations maintain higher than necessary inventory levels because they do not have the appropriate systems in place to help them effectively manage the stock levels of every single product line and this can lead to excess and obsolete stockpiling up.

Carrying higher than necessary levels of inventory can also result in other negative consequences for your business and can be a heavy cost burden. These costs can be easily overlooked such as extra lighting, heating, air conditioning, insurance and staffing. Not only this, but excess inventory can also be subject to inventory shrinkage as a result of damage, misplaced goods, stolen items and waste, so not only does the value of your inventory decrease as well as tie up capital, it also requires more maintenance costs and on top of all of this there is also still the chance that the excess stock won’t actually be needed.

External factors to consider

Weighing up these advantages and disadvantages is only part of the issue. Businesses also face challenges externally. Many warehouses rely on the coordinated processes and interfaces that are required for all parties within the supply chain: suppliers, wholesalers, and customers. If one of the links in the supply chain fails or falter, this can negatively impact the flow of goods from your warehouse.

Modern distribution operations have accelerated the time it takes to turn goods over, resulting in a rise in competitive pressure. The increased availability of flexible solutions such as just-in-time production and urban logistics concepts have enabled suppliers to achieve a new level of supply replenishment, so it is imperative for small warehouses to be dynamic and avoid high, inflexible stockpiles and the resulting high costs.

All things considered, the disadvantages seem to outweigh the advantages and should not be ignored.

Keeping inventory levels high in order to boost customer service levels is a costly and temporary solution. Eventually, excess inventory and obsolete stock will accrue, ruling out long-term success and leading to financial issues, especially in a fast-paced and dynamic environment such as a warehouse.

But how can you manage the delicate act of keeping enough inventory on hand to keep your service levels high?

The Solution: Sage stock control software

The best stock management solutions reduce your inventory holding levels by helping you to analyse and determine appropriate order quantities, while simultaneously improving product availability through exact order planning and optimised automated stock replenishment. All this is done through advanced analysis and demand forecasting, allowing you to regain control of all your inventory processes and be one step ahead of your competition.

PSS provides you with a solution to quickly capture stock transactions in real-time, with automatic updates and dynamic entries into Sage to drive efficiency and performance. Any movement, adjustment or change is tracked and updated automatically so you don’t have to. This dynamic and innovative addition eliminates the duplication of tasks, increases accuracy and validates data in real-time to reduce errors. This system also delivers pin-point accuracy on despatch orders and receipts and minimises manual labour needs.

Give your organisation greater flexibility and agility today.

 

Managing seasonal supply disruptions with Sage stock control

Be on top of your inventory all year round

Even though we are still holding onto a bit of sunshine through Autumn, there is no denying the colder winds are beginning to make an appearance once again. Naturally, with the leaves falling and the brisk winds approaching, consumers may turn their attention to holidays such as Halloween and Christmas. But for companies, this means looking at their stock control.

For the warehousing, logistics and manufacturing industries, holidays such as these have been on the horizon for a long time throughout the year. When managing a warehouse, forecasting demand isn’t as black and white as the seasonal weather changing in front of you, it takes planning for resource, informed estimates of stock for new and old trend products as well as accurate forecasting of traditional stock items.

Seasonal supply disruptions can be made easier and more seamless with Sage stock control, however, staying on top of demand fluctuations throughout the year can be difficult for distributors to navigate without the proper tools and processes in place. This doesn’t just occur for distributors, seasonal supply disruptions happen the whole way through the supply chain and in this blog, we are going to look into how you can overcome some of these issues.

Seasonal events that can affect your stock control

Before we look into what can be done to overcome the issues of seasonal changes in consumer demand, we are going to explore a few examples of popular holidays that can have major implications on your stock management if they are not planned for correctly, and what may occur if you don’t have a solution such as Sage stock control in place.

 

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Christmas Inventory Demands

Christmas and New Year’s, a very popular and exciting holiday that can quite literally take up the whole year planning and getting the right levels of stock ready and sent out to retailers at the right time leading up to the festive period. As one of the busiest periods for many distributors, many warehouses need to draft in temporary staff to cover the extra workload and to cover full-time workers who want to take time off for the festive period to spend time with their friends and family. This can cause major disruption to supply chains as well as your inventory management processes if you are not using the right stock management solution.

In order to make temporary staff as efficient as possible, it is imperative to have a solution that is simple to use and intuitive. Spending time training temporary staff on how to use stock management software is time wasted, so the quicker they can learn to use the software the better.

Christmas can also throw up other stock management issues such as where your stock is being sourced from, supplier lead time and how efficiently you can replenish and stay on top of movement of stock in order to cover the extra demand over the festive period. Manufacturers, in particular, cut down on production operations to the bare minimum and most likely have only a few members of staff to assist over the festive period, with some even shutting down completely. This is due to prior planning and the advanced manufacturing of the products and items that lead to the countless isles and shelves being stocked with everyone’s favourite presents.

 

santa-claus reindeerchristmas-tree

Chinese New Year – Demand Forecasting

This holiday has a huge impact on distributors and warehouses in the exporting and importing industry. The Chinese New Year, depending on the lunar calendar can be celebrated for up to 2 weeks or often longer. This results in a number of employees taking holiday shortly after Christmas and can have implications on processes, manufacturing and logistics.

So, whilst manufacturers are slowing down, warehouses and inventory management are doing the opposite. If production is slowing down immensely, software solutions like Sage stock control allow distributors and warehouses who source from these manufacturers and suppliers to ensure they have enough inventory to cover their demand leading up to and throughout the holidays until production resumes.

dragonChinese new year icon - torii gatelantern

 

 

So, that begs the question, how does Sage stock control help to achieve this?

Coping with Supply Disruptions with Sage Stock control

These annual supply disruptions are unavoidable for your supply chain because reality is, we can’t change the seasonal calendar. So how can you make sure to maintain your fulfilment rates and keep customer satisfaction levels high?

Warehouse inventory management

Replenish early

With Sage stock control, you gain visibility into your stock in real-time data. With an effective inventory management software solution, you can manage your annual supply disruptions, so you know when you need to replenish your stock in time to meet consumer and seasonal demand. However, there are also additional variables that need to be taken into account, and a number of key questions businesses need to consider.

 

What are your key products over the festive period?

How long is the lead time on those products? 

Do you have enough to cover demand?

 

Manually forecasting is always a good place to start when it comes to the replenishment of your stock. However, a more effective way is implementing the use of an inventory management solution like Sage stock control. This puts you at a competitive advantage as you can consider the different demand types for each product and have real-time insight into your inventory levels.

However, it is a balancing act between stocking enough inventory to cover demand and overstocking (which can result in tied-up capital and obsolescence). While it’s important to ensure you have enough stock to cover your demand through the holidays, it is equally important to make sure you do not over replenish leaving you with excess stock that is unlikely to be sold once the holiday period is over. This can be a delicate act, but with Sage stock control, it can make forecasting your demand easier.

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Communicate effectively with your supplier or be a good communicator

Whether you are dealing with a supplier, or you are the supplier, chances are, you will be managing warehouse stock movements and it is easy to get inundated with orders whilst trying to prepare for the holidays. Typically, as a wholesaler or retailer you will plan in advance with your manufacturer what stock you will be needing, however it is up to you to make sure that lines of communications are open so that your supplier is not blindsided by a large order that they will not be able to fulfil in time and that you take into account your supplier lead times and possible extensions to that lead-time during a busy period. Sage stock control can notify you of any stock levels that are low so you can prioritize these items. Understanding the pressure around the holidays and being able to do something about it can be the difference between having a successful holiday period or not.

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Streamline processes with Sage stock control

Streamlining processes when it comes to warehouse management is something to consider all year round. However, the hectic festive periods can highlight this importance even more. Holiday periods are busy enough without scrambling to put together replenishment orders or analyse data for forecasting, so make sure that you are in control and your supply chain is operating smoothly from start to finish with a Sage stock control solution. Using a software solution instead of manual stock management will help you to manage your holiday procurement more effectively from start to finish and get rid of any unnecessary stress. Not only will your speed and efficiency improve, but costs and errors will be reduced. By preparing your supply chain for these annual disruptions, you can make sure that your business will remain operational and trusted by both your suppliers and your customers. If you’re interested in making the festive holidays less stressful and help your business flourish with seamless integration of Sage stock control, give us a call today.

Sage barcoding and Inventory Optimisation

What is inventory optimisation?

We have previously discussed in detail how inventory management can be achieved with Sage barcoding. However, even if you don’t currently use Sage barcoding, you probably already have inventory management practices in place, that are being implemented into your supply chain to enable you to manage your stock. In this latest blog we are going to dig a bit further into inventory management and investigate inventory optimisation, what it is and how can you utilise it.

Inventory optimisation is a method of balancing capital investment constraints and service-level goals over a large range of stock-keeping units, whilst taking demand and supply volatility into account. Sounds pretty complex right, but to put it into simpler terms, inventory optimisation is the implementation of processes to help you achieve the right levels and variety of inventory to meet your target service levels, whilst tying up a minimum amount of capital. You may recall that in a previous blog we investigated the costs associated with inventory, so how can this be achieved?

Inventory optimisation is achieved by accounting for both supply and demand volatility. By having the right stock control solution in place, planning for volatility is achievable for all businesses. Inventory optimisation is the next level of stock management for warehouses and supply chain managers and buyers.

Inventory optimisation with Sage barcoding will make you more competitive

Today we live in a world of disruptive technology, the rapid changes in the IoT, digitalisation, globalisation, and advanced technologies are shaking up industries and causing many to rethink the way they currently do business. Alongside this, consumer habits and behaviours are also changing and evolving rapidly, where consumers are looking for instant gratification and are more likely to look for elsewhere if stock is unavailable or they need to wait for delivery.  New technologies allow for the sourcing of more competitive and better products from all over the world, what do you do if your company or organisation isn’t at the heart of it all?

The simple answer is, failing to optimise your inventory means that you will fall behind your competitors. Complex and intricate global supply chains, where every aspect of an organisation is linked, leaves opportunities for failures, but those who are ready and can account for uncertainties will be a step ahead of their competition and more importantly, in a better position to meet consumer demand.

Big companies like Amazon and eBay already have advanced stock control systems in place for optimising the supply chain, allowing them to source products from all over the world and deliver to their customers – sometimes within only a few hours. Not only this, but they will also have the internal capabilities set up to monitor inventory levels and manage the movement of stock from warehouse to warehouse due to their stock control systems. But this is far from reality for many small- and mid-sized warehouse businesses (SMBs) who are still trying to calculate order quantities, safety stock and reorder points in Excel. Manually managing the supply chain often results in rough estimates for inventory quantities, which in turn can lead to excess inventory (that will eventually become obsolete) or, alternatively lack of stock and consequently poor service levels for their customers.

However, by utilising Sage barcoding technology you will be able to predict seasonal demands, track diminishing and new trend products, as well as set minimum and maximum stock level alerts. In previous times consumers would be willing to wait for the right product to come into stock, but in today’s competitive market and with the wide availability of next day delivery, you are more likely to lose that customer to another competitor if you aren’t able to deliver. After all, your competitor is just a click away.

Key elements of inventory optimisation

Determining exactly how much stock you need to order and when it needs to be ordered, means you can optimise your inventory to meet the demands of your customers. However, it is more of a science than a simple ordering system. Optimising your inventory with Sage barcoding technology takes seasonality and promotional campaigns into account, as well as monitoring supplier lead times and schedules. By staying on top of these fundamental trends and always having an insight, you will have much better control over your inventory, warehouse levels and will minimise the amount of capital you are tying up in stock. However, there are also other key elements that you need to consider such as Demand Forecasting, Inventory Policy and Replenishment.

 

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Demand Forecasting

There are different ways of forecasting demand, from qualitative forecasting, when historical data is not available for a product, to time series forecasting, for products with historical data which involves the comparison of two periods of time. While time series analysis, can be highly effective for identifying seasonal fluctuations and cyclical patterns, it can steer you in the wrong direction if used in isolation. Successful demand forecasting often relies on looking at both qualitative and time series forecasting. Looking at estimates of seasonal and demand trends should be an ongoing process of testing and learning. With Sage barcoding technology, you can analyse seasonal peaks and troughs through time series analysis, as well as identifying new trends to help you get a real insight into your warehouse.

Every product has a life cycle. When a product is first introduced to the market it will have no historical demand, therefore you will not have any historical data to compare it to. Therefore, you will need to look at estimates of trends for the product from market analysis, reviews and comparative analysis. From the introduction, most products move into to a positive trend of growth, where the demand is continually growing until the product reaches maturity and demands becomes stable. After reaching maturity, most product demand eventually becomes more irregular and finally moves into a negative trend of decline, where consumer demand is falling and the product becoming obsolete. The product lifecycle is a general rule of thumb and by no means a set lifecycle for all products in all industries, and can also be subject to change due to the revival of trends.  But to accurately forecast your demand, it is a good idea to know where your inventory is in the product life cycle and how it is moving through it.

 

Business and Marketing Concepts, 4 Stage of Product Life Cycle Chart on Black Chalkboard.

 

Another key factor to be aware of is seasonality. For example, a product where demands peak mainly in the summer, such as suntan lotion or sunglasses cannot be forecasted purely based on the previous year’s demand. Other factors need to be considered such as the predicated weather trends, the steady trade from holidaymakers, new products on the market and new competitors, as these factors will also influence the market.

To be able to effectively analyse the demand and manage your inventory levels to meet these demands, the right stock control solution can help you to find and analyse this information making it easier for you to optimise your inventory management.

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Inventory Policy

Another key factor in inventory optimisation is Inventory policy. Inventory policies are the guidelines and policies set for your business to ensure that your inventory is correctly controlled and cost and losses and shortages are minimised or prevented. Inventory policy may seem similar to forecasting demand; however, your inventory policy is the black and white of your warehousing and stock levels.

Your organisation will need to consider at what minimum stock level you will set your reorder points and what your order quantity will be when you hit that point. This will help your business to insure minimum stock levels are kept, to be able to cover a sudden peak in demand or supplier disruptions, which can simply sometimes be unforeseen.

However, even if your inventory policy is set and working, if you have multiple warehouses for your stock, it can be difficult to keep track of all items. Advanced functionality like our PSS Sage barcoding multi-location capability allows you to optimize your inventory and distribute it to the correct location, in the correct quantity. Making it easier to locate all of your inventory at any time, and helping you to fulfil your consumer demand.

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Replenishment

Last but certainly not least is stock replenishment. Stock replenishment uses your inventory policy and the minimum stock levels set to turn them into actual orders. For example, a typical replenishment model will choose the minimum stock value as the reorder point, and the difference between the minimum stock level and the maximum stock level as the target quantity to order. By implementing the right stock control solution, you won’t have to worry about doing this manually, as replenishment rules can be automated.

Replenishment is a crucial element to having the right stock, in the right places, at the right time. This is the foundation of inventory optimization. These calculations can be done in Excel and be manually entered into your ERP, but if you have a few hundred items in your inventory (or more!), it’s almost impossible to correctly track everything manually.

With a Sage barcoding stock control solution, your replenishment can be automated you only need to take action when the system alerts you. All you need to do is implement the right solution and watch the success unfold.

Choosing the right barcode stock control solution

Choosing the right barcode stock control solution can be a minefield and if you are currently already using a stock management system, how do you know if it is time to start looking for a better solution? Think about this, a customer places an order with your company, they receive an order confirmation which shows a summary of their order and delivery date. Sounds good so far, but when happens when there is a problem and due to old, outdated software or processes, and you need to inform your customer that an integral piece of their order is out of stock. This is not only frustrating for you and your customers, but it can also be detrimental to your operations and data accuracy. This begs the question: Do you have the right barcode stock control system?

Consistent inventory mistakes due to a lack of or inefficient stock management are not just an inconvenience, it costs you customers and revenue. But this doesn’t have to be the case for your business! With the right barcode stock control solution, this challenge can be avoided. Before you choose a stock control solution, it might be useful to ask yourself a few questions.

Business challenges

Are your operations inefficient?

Are your employees taking long periods of time to find inventory? This is the biggest sign that you need to be considering a barcode stock control solution. This can either be physically looking for stock in the warehouse or having to trail through stacks of spreadsheets to find out where the stock might be. Either way, your operations need improving.

Time savings is one of the main reasons many businesses choose to implement inventory software. With the right barcode stock control solution, you should see a decrease in the amount of time it takes to place orders, receive products, and pick, pack and ship products to customers, improving your operations as a whole.

 

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Is your productivity as good as it can be?

Inefficient operations and processes will inhibit your employees’ ability to get their job done properly. A key element when choosing a barcode stock control solution is that it is user-friendly, so your employees can be trained on how to use the new software quickly and effectively.

A better trained and more importantly, the better-managed workforce can save your business time and money in the long run. With fewer hurdles in their way and with little need to correct manual mistakes, your productivity will be on the increase.

By implementing a streamlined and intuitive barcode stock control solution, taking on temporary staff during your busy periods will be simple. With minimal training required on how to use the system, there will be less disruption to your business.

 

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Is your data is consistently inaccurate?

In an ideal world, your inventory records would be at 100% accurate 100% of the time, however, this is not easily achievable with the possibility of human error through manual stock management. The easiest way to achieve accurate inventory records is through the use of barcodes.

Our inventory management solution integrates seamlessly with your Sage accounts. Mobile technology enables your warehouse operatives to update your Sage stock records from anywhere in your warehouse. Giving your back office staff access to real-time information, allowing them to give up to date information to your customers as well as having as greater control over purchasing and management of your stock levels. Holding high levels of stock for low demand items or consistently running out of stock for high demand items does your business little good. Too much inventory ties up your cash flow and takes up valuable warehousing space, while too little inventory can be a missed opportunity if customers decide to look elsewhere.

 

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Software features that are critical for your operations

Inventory categorisation: This feature is essential if your business has to track inventory for high volumes of products, especially similar products that vary in size or colour. Without inventory categorisation, your warehouse operatives could spend a large portion of their time looking for the right product.

Sales/purchase orders: This one is a no-brainer. You need to have a stock control solution in place that will track your inventory from point of order to delivery and everything else in between. With the right barcode stock control solution, you will be able to achieve just that and stock levels will adjust dynamically as your inventory levels change.

A barcode scanner:  To run an efficient operation, you need access to data at your fingertips. Our stock control solution acts as a centralised hub via electronic identification to help quickly and efficiently scan items that are received, sold and transferred. Having real-time knowledge of back-ordered or out-of-stock items is extremely valuable. It can give your business a competitive edge as you can plan in advance for seasonal peaks, set minimum stock levels and provide your customers with real-time up to date delivery information.

Can your business afford not to have a stock management solution?

As we mentioned in our previous blog, there are many costs associated with inventory management. Inefficiencies and unproductive employees cost your business time and money. By implementing the right barcode stock control system, you can save your business far more money than what you’ll spend upfront, however, make sure you know what you’re looking for. At Bit Systems, we are the Sage software experts and we can help you figure out what the best solution for you. You might be surprised how quickly it can pay for itself.

Do you think that the right stock management solution could help your business to provide customers with a more efficient experience from start to finish? Chat to us to find out more.

We’re featured in Vida Unique

Here at Bit Systems, we’ve been really busy helping many different organisations from varying industries and sectors with streamlining their operational processes with our stock management, manufacturing and logistics software solutions.

It’s pretty obvious when our clients work with us how passionate we are about how our stock management solutions integrate into your business. We love it, even more, when we see you maximise your business potential and more importantly, gaining those financial rewards in return.

So we thought, why not raise our profile a little bit more and we have recently worked with Vida Unique, a modern lifestyle and business magazine to discuss how to run a more efficient business with barcoding stock management, manufacturing and logistics solutions.

Check out our article here.

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The benefits of Sage Barcoding for your Business

Barcodes can often be the most forgotten aspect of any product that a retailer sells. It’s easy to under-appreciate barcoding, the zebra-like aesthetics and the seemingly insignificant numbers, however, these aspects alone pack a powerful punch when it comes to stock and inventory management and they are ones that your business can easily benefit from.

We come into contact with barcodes daily, they are practically on every item we purchase, and yet, most of us have little idea what they’re fully used for, other than scanning an item at a checkout. However, by not exploiting barcoding technology, your business could be missing out on the many benefits of Sage barcoding, which can be easily integrated into your inventory management strategy.

Before we look any further into the advantages of Sage barcoding, it is good to get an understanding of what a barcode is and why it is so commonly used.

 

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The Barcode

Universal Product Code (UPC) is a barcode terminology that refers to the tracking of trade items in a store. A typical barcode consists of a unique 12-digit identification number that is assigned to each individual item of stock or category. These numbers are assigned by GS1, which develops and maintains the global standards of the shared language used between businesses when using barcoding.

Our Sage barcoding labelling software enables you to quickly generate GS1 compliant product labels, shelf edge labels or pallet labels ready to use when you are. You can even benefit from using both linear and 2D codes that incorporate a range of Sage fields such as product code, description, supplier code and standard prices.

 

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Why Sage barcoding is imperative for inventory management

Barcoding and inventory management go hand in hand. As imperative as this is to warehouse logistics and operations, the thought of the practicalities of integration alone can be enough to stop some organisations from considering this option. It is perceived by many warehousing organisations that use integration between their warehouse and their accounting solution would be a time consuming and tedious process. However, with Bit Systems PSS solution your warehouse and Sage accounting solution can be linked and integrated quickly and effectively, transforming your stock and inventory management processes into a seamless operation, that comes with key and beneficial features.

If you are not using a barcoding strategy to manage inventory, you may find that you need to set aside time for close down periods in order to perform a full stock take. While this may be standard practice for many warehouses, it can lose your business valuable trading time. Also, with manual stock-taking, the more stock to manage, the larger the opportunities for data entry errors, which can lead to inaccurate levels of reporting. With Sage barcoding, it significantly reduces the risk of these types of errors occurring.

With our Sage barcoding solution, your accounting solution will be turned into a powerful and centralised inventory management solution. This will enable your workforce to efficiently and simply capture stock transactions through a single system that automatically updates Sage in real-time. This is a return will help to drive your efficiency, performance, eliminate the duplication of tasks and reduce your stock count time by up to 90%.

 

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Benefits of Sage barcoding

When performing stock transactions, there are a number of stages where there is room for human error. This can be at the point of counting, the collation of stock quantities received on the sheet, as well as the inputting of the data into your accounts software. This can then lead to anomalies that may not be caught until after the stock transactions have been posted, which can lead to a “looking for a needle in a haystack” scenario. Time spent trawling through data can mean a waste of both resources and money for your business. This can be avoided by utilising a barcoding system to manage your inventory.

Cutting out a number of stages through the use of automation helps produce a more accurate and efficient stock transaction procedure. This also gives the supervising team more time to analyse the data as well as the ability to make business-critical decisions using Sage, as it now acts as a centralised hub for your data.

Our Sage barcoding solution processes stock movements and adjustments quickly and effectively. There is no need to double-check the data for errors, as it doesn’t require manual input because it integrates with your stock within Sage. By integrating the two solutions Sage becomes a centralised hub for your data storage, inventory levels and analytics of your stock.

 

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Leveraging the benefits

By using UPCs and barcode scanning abilities on your products, it will not only speed up your operations but will also improve accuracy. Our Sage barcoding solution is scalable, so it can grow with you as your business develops and expands. With the added functionality of being able to cater for your business if you expand to additional warehouses by managing multi-location sites, you can benefit from greater flexibility today.

Integrated Retail Epos Solutions

The need to knows of Retail EPOS Solutions

Most modern retail businesses will have retail EPOS solutions already in place, but is your solution offering you value for money and helping your business to grow? Have you ever considered an epos solution that synchronises and integrates with your accounting solution and the opportunities it could open for your business?

When you review and evaluate the different aspects that are needed to run a successful retail business, it can sometimes be tricky to identify what’s working effectively and more importantly, what isn’t when using a standalone EPOS solution. An integrated retail EPOS solution can give you a complete view of your processes, promotional success and user management control, that a standalone system wouldn’t be able to offer.

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A company and solution go hand in hand

Before you even start to consider a new retail EPOS solution, you need to be aware that your investment in a new solution should be more than just the product you’re receiving. You need to choose a supplier that can not only provide retail EPOS solutions for you but can support and work with you post-integration to work with your requirements and needs.

Bit Systems do not believe in a ‘one size fits all’ approach, because business requirements and specifications differ from company to company. Bit Systems work with our customers to identify what your business requirements are, so we can offer a more tailored solution and make sure your business really benefits from a holistic integrated system.

 

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Things to consider when choosing retail EPOS solutions

There are many factors to consider when choosing a retail epos solution and we understand that the amount of information and solutions available can seem overwhelming. The first question you need to ask when considering a new EPOS solution is how a new epos solution would benefit and help to grow your business?

Identifying where your retail operations need improving, and then aligning those issues with an epos solution that can help you to overcome those issues, helping to maximise sales and increase customer satisfaction, means that you are most definitely onto a winner. An integrated EPOS system can help to streamline your processes and reduce administration, which in return will increase convenience for your customers, improving their shopping experience, which then leads to an upturn in sales.

I’m sure most retailers would also see the benefit of having a responsive and intuitive user dashboard, with custom menus designed specifically for your business, not only benefiting your till operatives when trying to find the information that they need, but also improving your customers experience when at the point of sale or when just asking about a pricing or stock enquiry.

 

Notepad checklist - things to consider when choosing epos solutions

Access to live data with retail EPOS solutions

One of the key benefits of having integrated retail epos solutions is being able to access live data at the point of customer contact. This means not having to wait for the customer or stock information, and having accurate and up to date data, reducing your customer waiting and queuing time. By integrating your EPOS solution with your accounting solution, your data will be up to date, accurate and won’t inhibit your customer journey when they are in store.

This includes real-time access to:

  • Customer balances
  • Customer credit limits
  • Inventory data
  • Pricing
  • Customer price-lists
  • Promotions and loyalty scheme data
  • Barcoding

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A centralised hub for information

Within the fast-paced retail environment, retailers need retail epos solutions that are secure and reliable and by investing in an integrated EPOS solution, you will be working from a single database, storing your data in a single system, so you can ensure consistency throughout your business. This seamlessly shared source of knowledge empowers your front-facing staff to know that the information they are working with is accurate and up to date at any time, reducing issues surrounding miscommunication. This central hub of information can also be used across multiple locations, to enable stock levels at each store to be updated.

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Valuable sales and inventory information

In-store customer experience should not be the only benefit of an integrated EPOS solution. Your EPOS solution should be able to provide you with important sales data, to enable you to focus your attention on improving your demand forecasting and stock replenishment.

Detailed reports will give you a bird’s eye view of your business – including which products are selling fast and which products are slow-selling, allowing you to make more informed decisions. By using these detailed reports you should be able to track profitability by a terminal, by product and by the department, helping you to improve scheduling, operational efficiency and profit.

By analysing these kinds of reports, you will be able to assess and answer commercial questions, such as are your marketing activities working? What are your peak selling hours? Do you need to increase staff during those peak times? Can you streamline your opening hours to increase revenue?

Further to this, these reports can also help with your inventory management, you can use predefined system alerts to help you operate at the optimal stock level. This will lessen your stock holding, and help break down inventory costs.

 

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What really matters?

However, the most important factor for any retail business is customer satisfaction and meeting the demand of your consumers. To allow your business to make the best decisions in regards to your customers, you need to have accurate and reliable data. By choosing the right epos solution for your business, you can put your staff in the best position to meet customer demands effectively and efficiently.

By choosing a solution that offers user-friendly interfaces that can be specifically configured to suit the needs of your staff and business, you will be able to accelerate your transaction processes, improve accuracy and help to meet your customer satisfaction levels.

By choosing a modern integrated solution, you can use the data collected to develop meaningful and customised marketing campaigns to target your customers with the right incentives at the right time, helping to boost repeat custom.

If you think that an integrated EPOS solution could benefit your business further, we look forward to hearing from you.