How to improve stock control in the Digital Era
One of the most important aspects to control in a business is the stock. Discover the benefits, how to digitalise it and which are the most cutting-edge digital solutions in this post.
Warehouse control is essential because stock-outs can lead to huge losses. In fact, during the pandemic, stock-outs due to the unexpected growth in demand for online shopping cost retailers an estimated $76 billion in lost revenue, according to IHL Group.
Companies must strike a balance between supply coverage to avoid stock-outs and overstocking to avoid possible losses due to the costs of holding excessive units in stock.
But how can you achieve this balance? One of the answers is digitalisation, which can help you to have the optimal stock in your shop. Read on to find out how you can achieve this, but first let's focus on the benefits of digitalising your stock.
Benefits of digitalising your stock.
- You will have real-time data
Forget about making decisions about your stock based on sales history, using data from previous years. Digitalising your stock will give you real-time information and you will be able to identify trends and customer changes in advance.
- You will be able to optimise orders
You will have a faster and more efficient response. When your customers make a purchase, you will know where the product is both on the shelf and in the warehouse, the existing units and, if necessary, you will automate an order to the supplier.
- You will have greater control and better management of the warehouse.
You will always know not only what products you have but also for how long and where you have them. You will have control and management of your warehouse at a single click.
- You will unify your stock if you have e-commerce
Having a product catalogue in your physical and online shop can create confusion when you receive orders through two channels for the same stock. Digitalisation allows you to have an overview of your products and stock. In addition, you can update your online shop if you run out of stock so that you don't receive orders for a product you don't have any units for.
- You will reduce costs
The cost will be optimal, as you will have the stock you need, without overstocking or understocking. This gives you more control over your stock situation and the costs involved.
- You will boost engagement with your customers
You can ensure that your most valuable customers always have the products they buy frequently, strengthening the bond and building customer loyalty.
How can you digitalise your SME's stock?
If you have decided to digitalise your stock, the following are the different stages you can go through. There are different options, so it is essential that you choose the one that best suits your business. Here we highlight 6 of them, ranked from the most basic to the most technological.
- Introduce programs that help you collect all the data about the products on the shelves and the stock in the warehouses. This tool will alert you when the stock of the product or category is low so that you can place an order with the supplier or the program itself can do it automatically. Some of the top-rated warehouse management systems for SMEs, according to the latest Gartner study, are Generix WMS and Reflex WMS. Both provide you with great benefits, although they are paid tools. If you want to start using a warehouse management system at no cost, we recommend StockBase POS, although the possibilities it offers are fewer.
- Introduce IoT into your warehouse. The IoT, or internet of things, allows different objects to communicate via the internet. It helps you to collect stock information directly through sensors, which update the data in your software. This way, you always have a real-time view of your inventory, the location of shipments or the time of delivery. You can also monitor other aspects, such as whether your products are at the right temperature, giving you the option to perform modifications remotely if necessary.
- Include RFID tags on your shelves. If you already have a barcode system in your shop, the introduction of these tags is of interest to you. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags allow you to identify a product easily and wirelessly. They emit a signal that is recorded in software, so you will always know which products are available on the shelf.
- Combine IoT in the warehouse with robots that organise inventory in the most efficient way, maximising the available space to save costs. For example, you can store products high up, as the robot can place and deliver them to you.
- Connect IoT, AI and big data to your shelves to get information about the evolution of items in your shop, through sensors and cameras. This combination of tools automatically updates the data in the management software, as it has machine learning, providing you with increasingly specific and useful information about your products and their turnover rate. You can also apply it to logistics, getting information about the location and quality of your products or raw materials, as well as possible problems that may have arisen.
- Combine it with other areas of your business that are also digitalised. For example, you can link stock data with your shop displays, to automatically create promotions on products you have left over or with low turnover. In many cases, you can also unify stock management, logistics, planning and even the pricing of your products.
As we have seen, stock control is important because of the costs involved. Digitalisation has developed tools that allow you to find the balance and thus better optimise your shop. Analyse your shop situation, find the tool that best suits your inventory and forget about out-of-stocks.