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10 Experts Share Tips For Better Inventory Management

inventory management

10 Experts Share Tips For Better Inventory Management

Think about the online stores you buy from regularly. Do they consistently have the product you want? If the answer is no, then the business likely doesn’t have as good control of its inventory as it should. Inventory management is at the heart of any well-run, sustainable retail business. 

When a retail store owner or manager doesn’t have a detailed understanding of the inventory they have in hand, they’ll be greatly constrained in their ability to make smart reorder decisions. They cannot list items with accuracy on their online store since they don’t have correct visibility into their inventory. They could easily get stuck with too much inventory or fail to fulfil orders due to lack of product. 

If you want to get inventory management right, you’ll do well to listen to what the experts have to say. Here are 10 paraphrased tips from people who know a thing or two about successful inventory management.

1. Update inventory records in real-time and make the information available to relevant staff – Jonathan Gaunt, Managing Director, FD-WORKS

To stay a step ahead of their competition, businesses have to move quickly and accurately. Access to fresh, correct information is key in this regard. 

In the context of inventory management, tracking when the last transaction occurred, for instance, is crucial. There are costs to holding dead inventory such as warehousing, cleaning and security. Some products are seasonal or trendy. If it’s been weeks or months since a certain product sold or if there has been a dramatic decrease in its turnover, it might be financially prudent to sell it at a loss and inject the resulting revenue into an item that’s currently hot.

2. Categorize your inventory – Dan Schmidt, founder and CEO, The Emerging Business CFO

All products in your inventory aren’t created equal. If you devote equal inventory management time and resources to each product, you’ll be running overkill on some while shortchanging others. To maximize your inventory dollars and increase efficiency, divide your inventory into several categories depending on turnover, profitability and other distinguishing factors. 

3. Weigh the costs of inventory against the benefits of inventory – International Purchasing and Supply Chain Management Institute (IPSCMI)

Successful inventory management comes down to your ability to constantly balance the costs of holding inventory against the benefits of the inventory. Small and medium-sized ecommerce stores can be especially vulnerable to miscalculating the real cost of carrying an inventory. It’s not just the money tied down in inventory but also storage, insurance and taxes.

4. Inventory requirements vary from business to business – Norm Saenz, Managing Director and Don Derewecki, Senior Consultant at St. Onge

Whereas there are principles that underpin inventory management best practices, inventory management procedures will vary depending on customer requirements and the types of products the e-commerce store sells. There will be variation in inventory management between pharmaceuticals, food, apparel, electronics, furniture, stationery, automotive, building materials and general merchandise stores. 

5. Use effective methods for calculating safety stock levels – Bain & Company, Inc.

Are you using statistical formulas that incorporate production lead times, sales forecasts, manufacturing schedules and each product’s service-level data? Or are you still using rigid rules such as all products from a certain manufacturer requiring 20 days of safety stock? 

The problem with rigid rules is that they are often applied to products with uncertain delivery histories. Use a standard or automated statistical formula that extracts historical individual product data in order to come up with an up-to-date safety stock level.

6. Align individual delivery sub-elements with overall objectives – Mani Iyer, Senior Business Manager, Genpact

Ecommerce stores often believe that order-to-delivery cycle time reduction would realize the competitive edge their business needs. However, many drop the ball when it comes to defining goals of individual cycle elements that contribute to overall lead time adherence. Inventory management must incorporate sub-targets such as supplier performance management on fulfillment, customer service satisfaction, working capital levels and more.

7. Keep customer satisfaction at the centre of inventory control – James Ellis, Assistant Professor, Business Department, Central Oregon Community College

Avoiding excess inventory is certainly a desirable goal. However, getting overly fixated on minimizing inventory levels can take away your attention from the thing that matters most of all—customer satisfaction. If the inventory is running too low or running out, that will lead to lost sales and, ultimately, lost customers. Therefore, inventory levels should constantly be compared to customer satisfaction levels.

8. Put one person in charge of inventory management – David Wheat, Materials Manager, Krausz USA

Many ecommerce stores are small enough to be a one-person operation. However, if your business has grown to the extent that you have 2 or more full-time staff, assign the role of purchasing and inventory manager to one person. The designated individual should keep track of inventory and be the first person informed if there’s any change in supply requirements. They’ll negotiate discounts for volume purchases or early invoice payment.

9. Invest in inventory management training – Jaymison Haeussler, Warehouse manager, Graphic Packaging

#1 is absolute attention to detail when training and developing your inventory management staff and system. In several different scenarios, I’ve seen excellent staff and processes fall short of their goals because the training and implementation weren’t cohesive.

It’s hard to row a boat across the ocean when everyone is paddling in different directions.

10. Incorporate lead times for your peak sales seasons – Andrew Chritton, Head of Account Management, Stitch Labs

Most businesses have a seasonality to their sales. Q4 is crucial for many ecommerce stores thanks to the holiday season but different stores will have different peaks depending on the product they sell and the market they sell to. The peak season is critical for many businesses ‘ annual profitability so careful planning and management of inventory are needed. 

If you don’t own your means of transportation, which is the case for the overwhelming majority of ecommerce stores, transfers and shipping of products can be unpredictable. Build lead times early into your peak season inventory for shipping optimization and to ensure products are available in sufficient quantities.

11. Implement Inventory sync, Chris Crane, Advisor, Excelsior Integrated

Startups often run lean with minimal software layers. These companies should check which channels they can sync inventory to, or just rely on manually setting inventory themselves. For larger merchants with many sales channels, keeping inventory in sync across them all can become a challenge. When a sale happens on one channel, you want the other channels to be aware of it. Plus, if you’re selling with Amazon and using FBA, you’re responsible for maintaining enough inventory so you can quickly replenish FBA. There’s a point at which channel complexity justifies adopting an ERP system. Look for one that can handle inventory syncing to all your possible future channels, and if you’re using a 3PL, make sure they can integrate to it. 

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Will Schneider is the founder of insightQuote, a match-making service for B2B services, and writes informative posts about fulfillment services at Warehousingandfulfillment.com. He is passionate about helping businesses find the right solutions to improve their operations. When not working, Will enjoys coaching youth basketball.

online

PREVENTING TRADE IN ONLINE FAKES

Online Buyer Beware

U.S. consumers spent over $600 billion dollars with U.S. merchants online in 2019. For consumers, online shopping is enticing for its convenience. With credit card in hand, shoppers can easily compare prices, make a purchase, and have the products shipped directly to their homes. The ability to sell online has transformed the ways in which manufacturers, shippers and retailers conduct business.

The evolution from brick and mortar to online stores has also made it more convenient for illegitimate businesses and criminals to pass off counterfeit products, which has attracted the attention of the U.S. government. Since November 2019, a flurry of government activity has focused on protecting consumers in the e-commerce environment.

Trade in fake goods 3.3 percent of world trade

Political Hue and Cry

The Senate Finance Committee examined online counterfeit goods last November when it issued a bipartisan report highlighting two key fact findings: U.S. businesses have difficulties preventing the sale of counterfeit goods online, and e-commerce platforms have no affirmative obligation to police counterfeit goods listings or to proactively remove suspected counterfeit items.

In January, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a report titled Combating Trafficking in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods, in which DHS found that e-commerce has contributed to a shift in the sale of counterfeit goods in the United States. As consumers increasingly purchase goods online, counterfeiters are increasingly producing a wider variety of goods that may be sold on websites alongside authentic products. The report adds that American consumers shopping on e-commerce platforms and online third-party marketplaces now face a significant risk of purchasing counterfeit or pirated goods.

A week after the release of the DHS report, the White House issued an Executive Order “Ensuring Safe and Lawful E-Commerce for U.S. Consumers, Businesses, Government Supply Chains, and Intellectual Property Rights Holders”. The Order implicates express carriers and the international postal system as contributing to the problem of imports of contraband and counterfeit goods.

American brands 24 percent of fake products seized

House Bill 6058, the SHOP SAFE Act of 2020, was introduced in early March in the House of Representatives. The bill proposes to impose contributory trademark infringement liability on e-commerce platforms unless they take steps specified in the legislation. The legislation received immediate support from several prominent industry associations.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association’s CEO stated that “more needs to be done to prevent counterfeit products from unknowingly entering the homes of American families.” In support of the bill, the CEO of the Personal Care Products Council stated that “counterfeit personal care products damage businesses, disregard regulatory protection and more importantly threaten consumers’ health and safety,” adding the Council encourages “Congress to establish a system that makes online marketplaces and others responsible for ensuring that products on their platforms comply with U.S. laws and regulations”.

Two days later, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) stated that the convenience of e-commerce “has come at a devastating price: a proliferation of dangerous counterfeit goods that endanger consumers and property, and an army of counterfeit merchants from overseas that undermine American small businesses with unscrupulous tactics.”

Counterfeit medicines

Hiding on Plain Sites

In general, the owners of intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks, patents) have had a lot to say about the online platforms and marketplaces that host e-commerce. As summarized in the Senate Finance Committee’s report, e-commerce platforms place the burden of policing and enforcing intellectual property (IP) on the IP owners, suggesting they do not have a duty to police counterfeit listings or proactively remove suspected counterfeit goods from platforms.

The proposed SHOP SAFE Act of 2020 would place a greater burden on platforms. By taking steps outlined in the legislation, platforms would be able to avoid liability for IP violations.

During the week the SHOP SAFE Act was introduced and a hearing held to address the issue of e-commerce threats to consumers and the economy, a technology company, PreClear, announced it is using “technology that pushes out the border and prevents infringing goods and potentially harmful goods from being exported to the U.S.” PreClear’s founder is quoted as saying that the technology is in use 24/7 and rejects thousands of non-compliant items daily.

There is no doubt that the sheer volume of infringing and other non-compliant merchandise available to consumers on the internet begs for a solution. The question is whether protection and enforcement begin after the items are in the stream of commerce in the United States or before the items ship to the United States. One of the missing variables in the trade policy equation remains how to prevent infringing items from leaving the country of origin in the first instance.

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Tim Trainer was an attorney-advisor at the U.S. Customs Service and U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. He is a past president of the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition. Tim is now the principal at Global Intellectual Property Strategy Center, P.C., and Galaxy Systems, Inc.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

training

5 Ways To Improve Your Training and Achieve Measurable Business Results

U.S. companies spend billions of dollars a year on training, but how many of those businesses are seeing positive, measurable results from such a large investment in their employees?

Not enough of them, studies and experts say. One study on workplace training reported that 43 percent of employees found their training to be ineffective.

“I doubt that many employees would rate their training as engaging, rigorous, or highly effective,” says Dr. Jim Guilkey (http://www.jimguilkey.com), author of M-Pact Learning: The New Competitive Advantage — What All Executives Need To Know. “For most trainees and trainers alike, job-required education is viewed as a necessary evil.”

So how can companies train their employees better and from that training produce outcomes that grow the business? Dr. Guilkey says it comes down to employing effective instructional design methodologies rather than traditional models.

“Traditional training often doesn’t work for companies today in competitive marketplace environments where growth is essential to survival,” he says. “The training is usually developed and delivered by subject-matter experts who have little or no knowledge of instructional design. Assessments test rote memorization rather than the ability to apply specific knowledge in authentic situations.”

Dr. Guilkey suggests some new learning solutions and why he thinks they’re more effective than traditional training methods:

Problem-based. “Problem-based learning involves a strategic approach of structuring the learning process within authentic, challenging, and multidisciplinary problems the learner must address,” Guilkey says. “This results in higher levels of learning than content-based, traditional training, which teaches content with little or no application to authentic, real-world problems.”

Continuous learning. “As opposed to singular-event learning, continuous learning is an ongoing process that allows learners time in the field to assimilate  and apply new knowledge before learning more advanced concepts,” Guilkey says.

Collaborative learning. A variety of interactions between peers, mentors, and facilitators fills in gaps, answers more questions, and reinforces the learning process. “This differs from the traditional method in which the learning is limited by focusing on the lecturer — a one-way transmission of content,” Guilkey says.

Multidisciplinary. The traditional approach focuses on singular concepts presented in a linear fashion, whereas the multidisciplinary approach “requires participants to combine and correlate learning across concepts and use real-life scenarios,” Guilkey says.

Testing for application of knowledge. Guilkey thinks assessment should be based on the performance of a strategic task, in which learners apply their skills and knowledge, rather than the traditional style of testing for rote memorization. “There’s a huge difference between being able to recall pieces of information and having a performance-based measurement to put all the pieces together,” Guilkey says.

“Many company leaders are unclear on the actual skills and knowledge of their employees and whether they are providing a competitive advantage,” Guilkey says. “You’ll never create a competitive advantage using traditional training methods.”

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Jim Guilkey, PhD (http://www.jimguilkey.com) is the author of M-Pact Learning: The New Competitive Advantage — What All Executives Need To Know. He is the president of S4 NetQuest and a nationally recognized expert in instructional design and learning strategy, with extensive experience in leading the design, development, and implementation of innovative, highly effective learning solutions. Under his leadership, S4 NetQuest has transformed the learning programs for numerous corporations, including Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s, Merck, Nationwide, Chase Bank, BMW, Cardinal Health, Domino’s, GE Medical, Kaiser Permanente, Yum! Brands, and others. Guilkey is a frequent speaker at national conferences and corporate training meetings. Before co-founding S4 NetQuest, Guilkey served as the assistant director of flight education at The Ohio State University. He received a BS in aviation and an MA and PhD in instructional design and technology from Ohio State.

Kinedyne

Kinedyne Confirms Prattville Expansion Ready for Operations

Global cargo control technologies provider, Kinedyne shows no signs of slowing down offering its competitive and consolidated transportation-focused solutions portfolio. The company released information this week confirming the newest Prattville distribution center is fully operational and equipped to support the company’s efforts to improve order processing, lead time and accuracy thanks to advanced technology.

“With over 20 years of experience in operational strategy and global manufacturing, Doug Apelt, vice president – operations, oversees all operational processes in the United States and Canada,” Dan Schlotterbeck, president of Kinedyne LLC, said. “Doug’s operational expertise and leadership of the Prattville team has benefited this expansion initiative and continues to strengthen and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our overall North American operations.”

Kinedyne launched a different approach in operations in 2016 by combining engineering, manufacturing, quality control, supply chain management, customer service and government contract into operations. Boasting several decades and 300 employees in Prattville, the company is also recognized as one of the largest employers for Autauga County. Beyond Prattville, Kinedyne’s footprint spans across a robust network throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, all of which offer the company’s full line of cargo control, capacity and access products.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to further improve operational integrity through process control and technological advancements,” Doug Apelt, vice president – operations for Kinedyne LLC, said. “Employees and customers will each enjoy the advantages generated by the additional facility, and it positions Kinedyne to successfully manage its customers’ expectations and our own future growth objectives.”

 

South Carolina Confirmed for DHL Commerce Park

Q1 2020 is the official completion date set for one of the three buildings to make up the DHL Commerce Park in Dorchester County, South Carolina. The company confirmed last week the $100 million investment will comprise of three buildings making up the entirety of DHL Commerce Park, creating a massive warehouse and distribution park spanning 1.7 million square feet to support efforts focused on port-related logistics.

“We have seen significant growth in this area of the country and customers are even asking us to evaluate opportunities in South Carolina specifically,” said Steve Hess, Vice President, Real Estate Development, DHL Supply Chain. “With that in mind, we got ahead of the curve to offer premier facilities in one of the hottest emerging markets in the country.”

An estimated 450 jobs are projected to come from the investment as the completion and opening of DHL Commerce Park will be done in phases. DHL Real Estate Solutions is a standalone product directly involved in the production of the project by providing specific real estate solutions.

“South Carolina Ports Authority is seeing significant distribution center and warehousing activity in our region, driven by port users who rely on our marine and inland facilities to handle growing import volumes bound for consumers across the Southeast,” said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO. “DHL Supply Chain will play an important role in supporting the logistics needs of multiple port-related business segments, and we look forward to the opening of their new facility.”

“With a favorable geographic location and robust port and infrastructure assets, South Carolina offers unparalleled global connectivity,” said Bobby Hitt, South Carolina Secretary of Commerce. “This $100 million investment by DHL Supply Chain is a testament to our unique ability to move products around the world, and I congratulate this great company on this tremendous announcement.”

IKEA ‘Powers Up’ Pennsylvania Distribution Center

Conshohocken, PA –IKEA has plugged-in an expansion of the solar array atop its Perryville, Maryland distribution center, the state’s largest such solar energy system.

Installation of the new panels began Fall 2013, and since then have nearly doubled the size of the original project, which already was the state’s largest rooftop array.

The 467,618-square-foot solar addition consists of a 2.2-MW system, built with 7,337 modules, and will produce 2.7 kWh of electricity annually.

Including the existing system, the 1.7 million-square foot distribution center’s total 4.9-MW solar installation of 25,913 panels now generating enough electricity to power 591 homes.

For the development, design and installation of the Perryville distribution center’s original and expanded solar power system, IKEA contracted with Indiana-based Inovateus Solar LLC, a distributor and integrator specializing in large-scale solar installations.

IKEA US has solar arrays atop 90% of its locations, has announced plans to purchase 49 wind turbines in Illinois, and has rolled-out EV charging stations at 13 stores.

In 2014, IKEA achieved its goal of completing solar installations atop nearly 90 percent of its US buildings (39 out of 44 locations), with a generation goal of 38 MW.

The Swedish company owns and operates each of its solar PV energy systems – as opposed to a solar lease or PPA (power purchase agreement) – and globally has allocated $1.8 billion to invest in renewable energy through 2015.

IKEA’s corporate strategy includes the goal of being energy independent by 2020. The company has installed more than 550,000 solar panels on buildings across the world and owns/operates approximately 157 wind turbines in Europe and Canada.

There are currently more than 350 IKEA stores in 44 countries, including 38 in the US.

08/11/2014