What are Inventory Management Systems and when to invest in them

Inventory management is a critical piece of supply chain management. In this 4-part series we will run a primer on inventory management systems, and considerations before investing in such a system. 

Inventory management systems track orders and stock levels, reconciling orders received from customers, orders placed to vendors through orders delivered to customers. Through this cycle inventory systems ensure the optimum stock levels are maintained so companies are not overstocked causing higher expenses, and neither understocked losing valuable sales. 

Phase 1:

You are a fast growing business but relatively simple in complexity without innumerable categories, and without numerous locations and warehouses. You may own your own fulfillment at this stage. You may be able to manage entering orders received from customers, orders placed to vendors and further track delivery to customers through a supply chain management platform. The supply chain system would need to interact with your e-com channels across Shopify, Amazon and other while also interacting with your retail and wholesale touchpoints. For this phase, you could make do without a separate inventory management system, or a barcoding system. 

Phase 2:

The complexity of your fast growing business is mounting, and you are likely selling in multiple countries, across multiple channels. The number of categories and SKUs has exponentially mushroomed. At this stage, it becomes inevitable that you have partnered with 3PL providers, potentially multiple of them across the different countries your company is operating in. Since most 3PLs have inventory management systems, you could still make do without investing in your own inventory and barcode systems. Likely your supply chain platform is integrated with the 3PL systems, with similar plug ins across your various sales channels. The big challenge you are likely facing at this stage without one single inventory system is the escalating need for smart reporting 

Phase 3:

You are still partnered with 3PL providers, and you may have also invested in your own warehouses. The continued growth and complexity of your business across channels, categories and regions of operation have created a dire demand for smart reporting and actionable analytics. You are also seeing a need for better reconciliation of split shipments, as well as need to track inventory at the individual item or serial number level. Having a single source of truth, having control over your data, and having different data sets across your supply chain connect seamlessly – each and all of these become critical needs you can no longer ignore. Now is the time to invest in inventory management software, and accompanying barcode systems. 

In the next installment of this series, we will explore how to evaluate bar coding systems, levels at which inventory can be tracked, and how bar coding systems interact with inventory systems.

For more at the intersection of supply chain, platforms, and technology visit www.suuchi.com and www.supplychainsunday.com

 

Suuchi Ramesh founded Suuchi Inc. 4 years ago after a 12 year career in technology and predictive data analytics. Before starting Suuchi Inc., Suuchi had scaled the B2B side of multiple tech startups from zero to nearly $30 million. Suuchi now plans to do the same with the GRID. The Suuchi GRID is an intuitive software solution that digitizes the entire supply chain, empowering participation, and providing a single source of truth across suppliers, factories, brands, retailers, warehouses, and customers.

 Learn more about Suuchi.

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