Technology has come a long way over the past decade, especially when improving warehouse inventory accuracy.
When inventory levels fall too low or rise too high, it creates problems. Online shops risk overselling items that aren’t available later when customers come looking for them.
Meanwhile, having too much of one item means stocking out of higher demand products until the first is sold. Inventory accuracy has taken on added importance as consumers buy more and more commodities through retail websites and mobile apps across borders and time zones, especially during holiday seasons.
As more and more companies shift to a lean business model, automation and streamlined inventory control systems are the keys to achieving improved performance and efficiency.
With warehouse management systems (WMS) and bar code scanning technologies like JDE Upgrades, businesses of all shapes and sizes can benefit from enhanced inventory accuracy, which helps them deliver goods quickly to customers while cutting down on costly overages.
Here are five ways technology is improving warehouse inventory accuracy, so retailers can better anticipate consumer demand.
Using Radio-frequency Identification (RFID)
A high percentage of retail inventory has transitioned to RFID tagging. Products that were once tagged with paper bar codes now have their own unique RFID tags that can be attached to packages or individual items.
Instead of using line-of-sight scanning, which limits the number of products that can be scanned at any one time, RFID uses small microchips with memory storage loaded with information about a product’s make, model, and color, as well as its exact position in a supply chain.
Retailers use handheld scanners to scan multiple objects simultaneously to determine price and availability. Industry experts estimate that inventory accuracy rates have risen from 80 to 95 percent with the use of RFID.
Using Sensor Networks
Retailers are also employing sensor networks to capture and relay data on everything that moves in and out of a warehouse. This allows managers to determine what’s taking up space at any given time and how much time it takes to move particular products throughout the facility.
If an item tends to pile up near an exit or entry, managers can work with employees or adjust staffing levels accordingly. The goal is improved accuracy and better inventory management all around, along with productivity gains across warehouses as a whole.
As warehouses and distribution centers become more automated, the items entering and going out enter a virtual system with little human intervention. The need for manual labor is reduced or eliminated altogether as workers supervise conveyor belts and robotic arms instead of filling boxes themselves.
People still play an important role, but most of this work has been optimized to improve accuracy rates. Manufacturers often also use automatic identification technologies like RFID to track what’s inside each box without relying on handwritten labels.
That same level of automation exists at the end of the shipping process as well, which means companies can spend less time verifying that inventory is correct before sending it out for delivery or processing returns.
Using Business Intelligence
Retailers are using technology to improve inventory accuracy through business intelligence, which pulls data from a number of systems and combines them into one cohesive picture for managers. In some cases, it’s as simple as correlating demand with actual inventory numbers based on sales trends.
According to industry experts, the ability to predict stock-outs means retailers aren’t stuck taking a loss when customers come looking for products that are no longer available. According to Aberdeen Group research, companies that use real-time information related to customer demand enjoy a 66% lower rate of inventory shortages across all channels.
Deploying Cloud Computing
Inventory accuracy rates can be further improved by using cloud computing solutions. It speeds up existing processes by syncing data from warehouses or logistics centers back to head office and vice versa.
Information is updated, and accessible to everyone involved simultaneously, so there’s no lag time or delay in responding to consumer demand.
So as you can see, there are some very useful ways that technology can improve accuracy rates within your warehouse(s) if you use the correct software and hardware available on the market today.
In summary, business professionals should consider implementing technology in their warehouses to increase inventory accuracy, efficiency, and collaboration within the team and company as a whole.