Inventory can be your best friend or your worst enemy, depending on how well it’s managed. If your business is experiencing issues managing its inventory, then it’s time to take charge of your inventory management process. And prevent it from becoming an ongoing headache.
In this post, we look at the importance and benefits of inventory visibility and how to make inventory more accessible.
The importance of inventory visibility
Inventory visibility – One of the most frustrating aspects of running any type of business is tracking inventory levels so you know when it’s time to restock. Or, when products need to be sold off before they go bad.
This applies to things like finished goods and the raw materials used to make them, work-in-progress items (WIP). And anything used in maintenance, and repairs or operations (MRO).
Good inventory visibility means your inventory can be managed with as little hassle as possible. When you can monitor what products are available and what quantity of each is in stock, you’re better equipped to make decisions that will help you manage your finances effectively.
It also goes a long way to reducing costs and offering a better customer experience. Proper visibility of your inventory makes it easy to track products and raw materials anywhere in the supply chain. Better visibility of your inventory leads to better visibility of your orders. From production to shipping and delivery.
Achieving Inventory Visibility
For most companies, inventory management is best left to dedicated solutions, like Microsoft Dynamics 365. Inventory systems like D365 help manage critical things like item location, availability, status, cost, and stock levels.
Common practices to increase inventory visibility can include things like:
- Increasing the accuracy of data captured for all products in your system.
- Taking advantage of mobile devices and handheld scanners in fulfillment areas to track products in the supply chain.
- Conducting regular audits and cycle counts against current inventory levels.
- Investing in a modern inventory management solution that offers visibility of all raw materials and finished goods for multiple locations or channels.
Benefits of good inventory visibility
With enhanced inventory visibility, businesses can pinpoint the root cause of any issues faster than ever before. Full visibility of your inventory means you’re in a perfect position to solve any problems that arise. Without proper inventory visibility, it can be exceedingly difficult to generate accurate reports about your stock levels and costs or be able to manage orders or track items across different sites.
Some additional benefits of good inventory visibility include:
Figure 1:Benefits of Good Inventory Visibility
- More efficient operations – Inventory visibility means you’ll reduce the amount of time you spend managing delays, complaints, or missing items.
- More control of inventory and stock levels – Inventory visibility lets you reduce overstock as well as ensure you don’t run out of any must-have products.
- Better security – Especially for highly regulated industries, inventory visibility is critical for tracking the movement of finished goods, raw materials, and specific batches.
- Better response to customer demands – Improved inventory visibility means you’re always better equipped to meet changes in demand – This is one of the best ways to create a better customer experience.
- Better resource allocation – Inventory visibility help you understand how much stock needs to go to different locations like warehouses, retail outlets, and more.
- Increased forecasting accuracy – The data captured from good inventory visibility gives a better view of products you need to keep on hand, improving distribution and purchasing at the same time.
- Better responsiveness – Real-time inventory data lets you quickly respond to any changes in demand based on trends or other disruptions.
- Better ROI – Better visibility means you can reduce your stock levels across the board, without disrupting the needs of your customers.
Inventory visibility challenges
It’s true that inventory visibility can be challenging, especially without a dedicated system. Today, omnichannel marketplaces offering a growing list of new fulfillment options like Buy online pickup-in-store (BOPIS), drop shipments, and more means there is an increasing list of issues that can arise.
Some common challenges with achieving inventory visibility include:
- Manual processes – Manual processes are notoriously inefficient, especially when we have access to barcoding solutions and automation.
- Poor visibility – Not having the ability to track your finished goods or raw materials means you can create several unplanned delays, resulting in a less-than-stellar customer experience.
- Unknown demand – Lack of visibility makes it easy to not understand the demand for your products, this quickly leads to overstock or understock conditions.
- Re-stock issues, loss of business – Lack of visibility can lead to several missed restocking opportunities and more business for your competition.
These are all issues that can be harmful to a business, leading to things like loss of revenue, damage to your reputation, a poor customer experience, or worse.
Improving inventory visibility with Microsoft Dynamics 365
Many retailers struggle with visibility into their inventory – not only can it be time-consuming and costly. But, it can also lead to out-of-stock items or delayed shipments.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers many features that can help you improve visibility into your inventory, including the ability to create multiple levels of item locations and reconcile inventory automatically and manually.
Some of the ways D365 helps improve the visibility of your inventory can include:
Figure 2:Improve Inventory Visibility with Microsoft Dynamics 365
- Support for mobile and handheld devices – Microsoft Dynamics offers full support for shop-floor devices designed to minimize redundant manual processes.
- Process and route optimization – Microsoft Dynamics lets you customize and streamline your processes, resulting in highly optimized routing throughout your supply chain.
- Process automation – Microsoft Dynamics gives you more control of the automation of your processes, which not only increases compliance but also significantly reduces time spent on repetitive tasks.
- Actionable insights – Microsoft Dynamics allows businesses to extract much more data from everything they do. Forecasting, scheduling, routing, and more all become much more efficient.
- Electronic signatures and approvals – Electronic signatures in D365 are quicker, more compliant, and much easier to track.
While challenging, inventory visibility has become more important than ever before, continuing to prove itself as one of the best ways to streamline your company’s operations.
Improving inventory management doesn’t have to be difficult though, especially in today’s rapidly changing marketplace. Once you understand your specific requirements, the best way to start on the right path is to work with a partner that understands the ins and outs of your industry and can help implement a solution that’s perfect for you.
Contact us today to discover how we can help optimize your inventory visibility.
XcelPros is a Chicago-based company and delivers transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.
XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).
Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.
Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.
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