Small and mid-sized businesses need an order-fulfillment process that supports growth. Yet, if you don’t have inventory visibility, it can be difficult to maintain the pace you set for yourself. The result is less than stellar: overstock, stock-outs, and incorrect counts become reality. Often, these scenarios are caused by inefficiencies in your management processes, but with inventory visibility, you can tackle any issues before they begin.
Why does inventory visibility matter? Let’s find out.
What is Inventory Visibility?
Knowing how much inventory you have and where it is located within the warehouse at any time is called inventory visibility. You can gain this by using a warehouse management system (WMS) or an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Using such solutions gives you the ability to scan, view, and track stock in real-time.
Today’s supply chain requires multiple locations to be connected or to communicate with one another. For example, there are warehouses and distribution centers, trucks within transit, manufacturers, producers, suppliers, and distributors all interacting to move products from one location to the next. Inventory visibility also ensures that every point along the supply line receives information—through EDIs, ledgers, etc—about the shipments.
In other words, inventory visibility also creates traceable internal records, supporting accuracy, monitoring, and more.
Why Does Inventory Visibility Matter?
Inventory visibility is important, but it is also beneficial. In order to scale your SMB, you need visibility into your inventory so you can manage your business and meet customer expectations. It doesn’t matter if your business is based on eCommerce or if you are running a chemical or pharmaceutical warehouse.
Having the full details of the inventory provides insight into reality but also the unexpected. The data allows you to analyze and make better decisions. You can also allocate inventory to reduce expired products, minimize errors, reduce operating costs, and accelerate processing time.
Benefits of Inventory Visibility for the Supply Chain
You can gain a lot when you increase inventory visibility, but so does the supply chain. When you implement a WMS like Wisys’ Agility Essentials, you can easily validate incoming and outgoing stock, gain more visibility, and increase the velocity of your overall business.
There are benefits for the whole supply chain as well:
Having insight into your inventory, even when it is spread across multiple channels, can boost the efficiency of your business and the supply chain. By implementing a WMS, you can track inventory when received, as well as automatically update inventory numbers whenever something is ordered or shipped out. The need for manual inventory audits is eliminated, also benefiting your accuracy and productivity.
Enhanced Order Accuracy
Zero inventory visibility means that you and your labor force are blind. Should a customer order multiple items, and your employees have no idea where those items are, you inadvertently held up the supply chain and diminished the customer’s experience. The same is true for pulling the wrong items or sending out expired products.
Having excellent inventory visibility reduces the risk of selling out of your stock, split shipments, backorders, and delays. With more visibility, your employees can accomplish more goals with more certainty and accuracy.
Real-time data collection and historical data can help you analyze the movement of your inventory. In turn, you can make smarter business decisions. Within a WMS like Agility from Wisys or an ERP like SAP Business One, you can trace the data, time, and amount of an order; item SKUs; shipping destinations; sales channels; manufacturer or supplier information; and so much more. Knowing the microscopic details ensures greater accuracy when forecasting demand.
While demand forecasting is never 100% correct, the more inventory visibility you have, the better prepared you will be for the future.
Healthy Inventory Levels
When managing your inventory, knowing how much is available is a priority. Keeping your inventory levels healthy limits the number of stock-outs, backorders, and other unfortunate scenarios. For those with e-commerce businesses, you also need to keep track of your inventory levels for the movement and transport of inventory. If you don’t know the exact quantity of a product in a warehouse, there is a chance that something will be ordered that isn’t available, thereby delaying the whole shipment. This impacts your financial outlook, reputation, and customer satisfaction.
Better Customer Experience
This is something that every business is committed to, and failing at it can be disheartening. Inventory visibility helps maintain the customer experience or even make it better. How?
As you already know, inventory visibility ensures optimized stock levels, offset operational costs, demand forecasting, and so on. By eliminating mistakes caused by redundant manual data entry, misplaced or incorrectly marked inventory, defects and recalls, you make the whole experience better for the people who rely on you the most.
Increased Security and Quality Control
Although inventory visibility is meant to determine how much inventory is within the warehouse at one time, being able to track orders and products back to the source is important, especially in regulated industries, such as food and beverage, biomedical, chemicals, and so on. Being able to track batches from the origin to the customer or distributor assists with quality control and recall management, too.
Get More Inventory Visibility with Agility WMS
Real-time insight into your inventory is the key to keeping up supply and meeting demand, especially in today’s world. Although every business has its own unique challenges, you can eliminate a lot of the struggles SMBs face by increasing inventory visibility. The best way to do that is to implement a trusted warehouse management system (WMS), like Wisys’ Agility, as well as scanners, RFID tags, and other automation technologies.
Ready to accelerate your operations and gain more insight into your inventory? Give our team a call at 770-955-3530 to learn more about our WMS solutions!