You want to get as close to 100% accuracy as possible to ensure happy customers. So what is inventory accuracy?
Inventory accuracy is simply “Trusting that your inventory is on-hand when you need it, with the right quantity and in the right location.”
But why does this simple idea plague so many organisations worldwide? From our experience, it’s near impossible to operate accurately in a warehouse when manual or paper processes are in place. Paper-driven processes leave room for human error and serve as one of the main obstacles to an improved accuracy rate.
Steps for improving inventory accuracy
If you’re currently working with manual processes, your first strategy to improve accuracy is to minimise the amount of times you touch a product. The more you touch a product, the more likely it could be misplaced or entered into your WMS incorrectly. To avoid this, eliminate unnecessary moves in your warehouse.
For example, if you’re using overstock bins, you’re moving your product 3 times – from receiving, to the overstock bin, to the picking bin. Using an overstock bin isn’t wrong, but any time you move your product, you need to let your WMS know what you’ve done. Paper processes create a gap of where the product actually is and what is recorded in your systems. If you’ve moved it from the overstock bin to the picking bin but haven’t updated your WMS, your picker can’t find it, or worse – picks the wrong thing instead.
Another key step is to make sure the description on the product and the pick slip match. Think through things like colour, size and the physical description. Often times, your workers can’t see what is in the box and grab items simply by what they see on the shelf. Taking the time to ensure these match can make the difference in a happy customer.
Implementing barcodes in your warehouse is the next step. You should put barcodes on both your products and the bins where you’ll be stocking it. Better than a description, your picker is now looking for the barcode number that matches his pick slip. He can identify the location (bin barcode) and product and ensure they match.
Most customers work with retail products that already have UPC codes on them. In this case, you do not need a unique barcode. The UPC can be cross referenced in your WMS, and the UPC code is now your identifier.
Once you have barcodes in place, the last strategy is to put those to work for you with an Inventory Management solution. This leverages barcode scanners to prompt users through warehouse transactions – from receiving, to counting, to picking and shipping. If you select a solution that is built for a WMS, this information is updated into your system in real-time. You’ll know what products you have in your warehouse, where they are, who put them there and when (and even how long it took to do it).
Adding Inventory Management Solution
3 ways an Inventory Management solution can increase accuracy:
- Eliminates the irritating time element. By scanning and updating your WMS at each step, you are eliminating the gap of your WMS being out of sync with the warehouse. When your picker goes to fulfil an order, he’ll know it’s been moved from the overstock bin to the picking bin.
- Verifies you are handling the correct product. Your WMS will prompt you to scan the barcode and then verify that matches what is in the system. You can ensure you are shipping the right item out to another happy customer.
- Know what you have and where. With an inventory scanning system, you’ve scanned everything that is received or moved in your warehouse. You can tell your customer you have it and have confidence that you. in fact, do. If you are an Amazon supplier, this is critical.
The importance of inventory accuracy cannot be stressed enough for e-commerce and online retail brands. Accurate inventory tracking allows brands to fulfil orders on time and accurately. And as brands grow out of small warehouse space and into larger facilities, so does the need to efficiently manage inventory.
If you’re not already data obsessed, then you need to be. You’ll often need to be able to access and act upon inventory data within a day, or even a few hours, in order to capitalise on every opportunity that you’re presented with.
Taking your inventory accuracy to the next level is possible with our Cloud Warehouse Management System (WMS), will allow you to step up to multi-location management per product. You will be able to segregate your warehouse into bulk and pick slots. The system will determine what you should replenish and which warehouse bay you should replenish from based on rules defined in the software, to ensure that stock is properly rotated and managed effectively, efficiently and with minimal manual intervention.
Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.
Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.
ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.