In this article we discuss some of the problems distributors face with outdated inventory management software and inefficient warehouse operations. These issues affect all distributors but are particularly troublesome for small businesses. Today the best inventory management software for small business can address these problems. Read below to see how you can solve these problems for your small distributor business.
Outdated Inventory Management Software
There was a time not too long ago when all processes in the distribution industry used to be paper based or relied on manual methods. To take orders, salespersons had to go into the warehouse and find out how many of a certain item could be supplied. Inventory was always off for a host of reasons: POs had come into the warehouse and had even been received, but the paper receiver hadn’t been entered; or orders were filled but the printed pick ticket hadn’t yet been entered; or the manual counts hadn’t been updated to the system, and on and on. Unfortunately, many distributors are still in this situation and struggling to cope.
Small Businesses Were Hardest Hit
And the problem of inefficient workflows was most acute for small businesses that typically have less than robust processes and rely on employees playing multiple roles. As a result, small businesses in the distribution industry are often weighed down by the stacks and stacks of paperwork required to take every order and by every aspect of business. Sound familiar? If so, you are in good company - most small distributors are in the same boat. Small distributors often do not have large, specialized workforces and so have a harder time finding efficiencies through systematizing their processes. In addition, small businesses’ warehouses lack the automation capabilities that can be justified with larger scale facilities. Also, small businesses don’t have the throw weight to force their trading partners, whether vendors or customers, to conform to their business processes. Further, small businesses often don’t have dedicated IT departments and so cannot take advantage of systems that involve complex interconnections and linkages.
Improving Inventory Management Software for Small Business
There is hope though. Over the past few years distribution software has made great strides with easy-to-use screens and straightforward workflows. Today, the best inventory management software for small business lets you dispense with the paper and manual processes that were bogging your business down. With the best inventory management software for small business most warehouse flows can be streamlined. Whether it is through Wireless WMS systems that scan products to receive POs or pick orders or record inventory counts, or through redesigned processes, the best inventory management software for small business has come a long way.
The efficiency of the best inventory management software for small business means that employees can be freed up from the antiquated processes that they used to spend time on. This will make your employees more productive. When you take the increased productivity and other benefits into account, the best inventory management software for small business pays for itself quickly. You should consider upgrading your inventory management software to capture some of the following benefits:
- Your employees will be much happier at being relieved of labor intensive and time-consuming repetitive tasks – which will have a considerable benefit in terms of employee morale and outlook. This leads directly to lower employee turnover and higher job satisfaction, which saves you money.
- Also, if you have to replace warehouse employees for whatever reason, relying on technology rather than manual processes makes it easier to bring on and train new people. And the increased job satisfaction means you can attract better people.
- The increased productivity you will see from employees means you can reduce headcount or at least not grow your headcount as fast as your business grows. In addition to the obvious headcount savings, with Covid still in the picture and talk about new variants, you will be able to practice better social-distancing, and this will reduce any potential liability.
- Utilizing technology like hand-held barcode scanners dramatically cuts down on human error. You won’t ever again have to translate and transcribe data, which almost begs for mistakes to be made. For example, receive a case of catch weight products that have been weighed by the manufacturer and barcoded, and you can scan the product, the weight, the expiration date and the lot information through a single compound barcode scan. You won’t have to reweigh it or ask the employees to keep track of weights or expiration dates again.
- Because of the improved efficiency of the warehouse processes to pick/pack/ship orders and to put-away POs and to take physical inventory counts, you can reduce your investment in inventory because you can turn it faster. The cost of capital tied up in inventory is one of the biggest costs for distributors. The best inventory management software for small business will allow you to run leaner and increase turns which will have a major positive effect on your bottom line.
- Getting the best inventory management software for small business you can, will also allow you to track inventory by multiple locations for the same SKU. This will allow you to optimize the layout of the warehouse itself and cut down on multiple passes through the warehouse to fill orders and to restock fast moving items.
- Implementing EDI and a customer self-service portal increases the accuracy of orders and POs and removes one more layer of potential fulfillment snafus for the warehouse personnel. The cost of fulfillment errors can be the difference between hanging on by your fingernails in tough economic times and growing your market share where others falter.
All of the improvements discussed above in the best inventory management software apply to small business - but are also beneficial to all distributors.
What You Need To Do
The good news is that there are Cloud-based systems that deliver the best inventory management software that are optimized for small businesses. Accolent ERP runs in AWS and is one of the best inventory management systems for small business and can deliver all the benefits of improved warehouse productivity to your small business. Please contact us today to discover the efficiency that the best inventory management software for small business can bring to your distribution business.