What is real-time inventory management & why is it beneficial?
If you own a business, there’s one worry that’s always on your mind – “what if my product goes out of stock?” It’s not an unfounded concern either, as 31% of customers will abandon their cart altogether and potentially buy from another company. That means lost sales – and potentially a poorer reputation for your business.
That’s where real-time inventory management can make a real difference. With an up-to-date grasp of your stock, you can feel assured that you’re not missing out on sales – or losing happy customers.
What is real-time inventory management?
Whether you have an online B2B store or a brick-and-mortar shop, keeping track of your inventory is integral to the success of your business. Real-time inventory management systems are software that makes it possible to automatically record and track the flow of your inventory.
It updates automatically each time new stock you’ve purchased is available, and again when a customer orders the product. This means that you have accurate stock data, so you are aware of exactly what you have left. Utilising real-time data gives you a clear, broad picture of your stock in real-time, so you can address issues at the right moment. Everything is automatic, so there’s no need to manually update stock – eliminating issues with time delays and human error.
What are the benefits of real-time inventory management?
So, how can real-time inventory management help your business? There are some key benefits to consider...
Avoid products going out of stock
One of the most important benefits of real-time inventory management is that you have a clear, automatically updated picture of how much stock you have available. That means you can avoid products going out-of-stock, and the consequences of that – losing sales, and potentially, customers.
If your business frequently experiences stock-outs, you could find frustrated customers take to social media or review [SR1] sites to vent their disappointment, which can negatively affect your business’ reputation over time.
Manage your inventory
As well as avoiding products going out of stock, you also have full visibility of your entire inventory in one place.. Stock management software like Profit4 can also auto-calculate the optimum stock levels for your business, so you know when to restock – and when you have excessive stock of a particular product. This can inform your future stock orders, as well as helping you decide what to feature in discounts to reduce stock.
Organise your warehouse
With all this clear information about your stock, you can also take steps to organise your warehouse in response to the data. When you have multiple warehouses, it can be difficult to keep track of what stock is kept where. With real-time inventory management, you’ll know exactly where your stock is at all times across all warehouses, and be able to track any movements of stock. This means improved order fulfilment, and ultimately, stronger customer satisfaction.
Boosting customer experience
Think about this from the customer’s perspective. They’re ready to buy something from you – payment card in hand. But the item they’ve been hoping for is, without warning, completely out of stock. Statistics have shown that customers are unlikely to wait around for the item to come back in stock. They may buy from another supplier or not buy anything at all. In fact, they may not return to your store again after a stock-out.
What’s more, they may take their frustration to social media. These days, social proof is integral to business success. Customers need to know they can trust you – and they find that trust through the opinions of other customers. Real-time inventory management does more than simply ensure your products are kept in stock. It ensures your customers have a great experience and stay loyal to your brand.
Gain access to data
The saying goes that “knowledge is power” – and that’s very true for inventory management. Clear reportage means that you know exactly what stock is available – and how to improve your stock. Real-time inventory management systems provide you with detailed reports on your sales history, stock levels, as well details of your best sellers and any non-movers. This can give you valuable insights into what’s selling and what isn’t, and what you might need to purchase and what you might need to sell off quickly.
Top tips for optimising real-time inventory management
Be aware of potential risks – Real-time inventory management systems can make a real difference, but there is always still a possibility for error. Ensure you have clear procedures in place to avoid recording errors, as well as theft or damage to products.
Automated processes – Save time by automating your purchasing processes, so that orders are raised automatically as and when your stock reaches a certain level.
Keep an eye on fast-selling items – Use the reports to learn which items are selling fast. This can help you make informed decisions about what to stock in future, and you can also relocate your best-sellers close to the staging areas within your warehouse to save valuable time.
Connect with other departments – The best real-time inventory management systems link up with your other departments, providing them with consistent data. That’s exactly what Profit4 offers, linking your warehouse and order processing teams with finance, purchasing, sales, marketing and management teams.
Supplier pricing – Importing pricing en-masse from multiple suppliers can ensure that you always get the best deal on your products and materials.
Integrate with online platforms – If you sell online as well as in-store, there’s nothing worse (nor more time-consuming) for your business than keeping these inventories separate. Choosing a real-time inventory management system that integrates online platforms with your brick-and-mortar inventory can really help to streamline the process.
Take control of your stock with Profit4
If you’re ready to get to grips with your inventory, it’s time to invest in a real-time inventory management system that puts all the information you need at your fingertips. Even better, OGL’s Profit4 software is an ultra-fast ERP that fully integrates your inventory management with your finance department to your purchasing team.
From reporting to stock control, Profit4 offers a myriad of inventory management features to streamline your workflow. Ready to take control of your inventory? Book a free demo today to learn how Profit4 can benefit your business.