I think we may have that in stock…
Ever heard that from one of your suppliers? Or even, has he ever called you to say that, in the end, despite the fact he took your order, the part was not in stock?
Do you do that with your customers?
You know there is a better way of doing things and that such answers greatly affect the relationship of trust you have built with your customers, and the growth of your sales. Moreover, the leaders in your industry do not treat their customers that way. You must follow best practices to stay competitive.
Three points to consider:
1) You need information in real time
In this era of instant communication, your management system must give you a clear picture of the position of your inventories at all times. As soon as you get the merchandise, it has to be available in your system for resale. You should be able to allocate items to receiving and your customers’ orders. You also have to be able to easily find the main supplier of each item, and the sales price for each customer. If you are a distributor, and your existing system does not let you access that information, then change the system—or change businesses!
Modern integrated solutions offer you those possibilities, and much more. These days, with all the purchase options available in the market, you will surely find one that suits your goals and budget. In your case, that does not mean just an investment but your actual survival.
2) It must be easy to do business with you.
The pace of business is constantly accelerating. Time is a resource we all lack. To properly fulfill your customers’ requests, your colleagues in order taking must have the required information at hand and be able to trust it: quantity in stock, location, sales price, quantity on order, reception date, etc. They will then be able to propose—quickly and clearly—solutions to your customers who need parts or equipment.
Once your customers see the quality of your service, they will not hesitate in contacting you to order products that you may not have in stock at the moment. Once again, a modern system can let you consult your suppliers’ product catalogues in real time so you can immediately talk to your customers about their needs.
3) Transform information into a competitive advantage.
Inventory management is both a science and an art. You cannot just rely on the knowledge and memory of Roger, your warehouse manager (as qualified as he is) to find out what and when to order. Your company’s success and growth rely in part on your ability to have the right inventories, in the right location, at the right time, and thus improve your customer service.
Your inventory levels must change with the seasons, technological advances and the latest trends. A management system that lets you access inventory in real time has all the information needed to guide you with your decisions. You start there with normal reports, and then convert them into dashboards that can be consulted on a daily basis. Start integrating your sales team’s sales forecasts with your future inventory needs. Get purchase forecasts from your best customers and integrate them with your forecasts. Your stock levels will thus become more accurate and let you reduce your costs and improve your customer service.
By controlling the fundamentals and starting to implement some of the data analysis techniques the big players use to manage their stock, small enterprises will have the potential to considerably grow their competitiveness and their bottom line.
Best of luck!