Inventory management is the cornerstone of many successful businesses today. Multi-billion dollar companies such as Amazon and Wal-Mart have become so successful because they have increased their profit margin through precise and well calculated warehousing. The secret to their success is partially attributable to Inventory Management that is keeping exactly the right amount of product in stock at the right time in the right place. This is a tricky business as it is easy to lose track of what item is where and in what quantity. It used to be, that businesses kept stock on spreadsheets. Whether physically or digitally, spreadsheets are a recipe for disaster as the margin for error is too great and the risk of them being lost, destroyed or edited wrongly is too high.
Today, the leading technology in warehouse management is in Online Cloud-based Inventory Management. Not only does the program keep track of all stock and warn the warehouse when to order, how much and where to, but it also backs up all the information onto ‘the cloud’ where there is no risk of the data being lost and it can be accessed by anyone with the right credentials and an internet connection.
Leading warehousing companies such as the market leaders C.R. Hamilton in New York have been using online Inventory Management for years, keeping their stock in perfect order. These programs provide such a low margin of error that Inventory Management companies are competing against each other on .001 percentiles to gain the upper hand.
Market leader, Fishbowl, have the requisite features of: order management, Barcode tracking and Multi-location part tracking, but also provide an integrated service with Quickbook for accounts. These state of the art features make finding and ordering stock as simple as possible. For example, stocked items are placed by number so that an employee, or as is increasingly the case a robot, can find the item based on the placement number as opposed to the item description. The program is linked to the barcode reader of the employee, which feeds back into the system if the item is removed and updates the stock list so that more can be ordered at the click of a button if the stock starts getting low.
The idea of putting all your information on a cloud may seem a bit risky consider the cloud is a great big conglomeration of all the information people choose to put on there. But consider that your information is securely protected, there are no server fees to pay, and only a low monthly installment that covers all your storage and security needs. Furthermore, there is no risk of loosing all the data in a fire or robbery because there is nowhere to steal it from. All the information is securely backed up and as a rule, security tends to be better on cloud systems although the dangers of having data stolen are still real and the wider the network is spread the more this risk increases.
Cloud Computing’s other advantages include saving on resources, such as servers and costly computers. Instead of investing in a large computer infrastructure, companies can simply pay their monthly fee, which opens up resources for other more profitable investments.
When choosing an online Inventory Management program it is important to know what you are looking for. You should see which programs are best suited to the business.
- Are the stores are online or offline or both?
- What devices is the program intended to work on?
- Is it a more Apple or Microsoft based company?
- What level of stock is the program good till?
- Is the delivery system centralized or spread out over several warehouses?
Some programs will only work for a few thousand items of stock while others are designed to keep track of millions. There are many different programs to suit most companies’ needs, but it can be difficult finding the right one.
In short, Cloud based is Inventory Management is clearly the way forward. The systems are so evolved and productive that the margin of error (when used properly), will be decreased significantly from any other format of Inventory Management. Also, as we move into a more technological age and warehouses will be mostly ‘manned’ by robots that move and log the stock, such programs will become fundamental to any warehousing project be it for a small business of a giant corporation.