With the holiday season in full gear, businesses race to keep up with customer demand and as a result, inventory management challenges rise to the forefront. A recent study revealed that out-of-stocks, overstocks and returns cost retail businesses a massive $1.75 trillion a year. To protect your bottom line, you need to know what’s in stock, what’s on order, and where and when it’s shipping—in short, you need real-time visibility into your inventory. Fortunately, cloud-based inventory management can play a crucial role in preventing feast or famine and addressing industry-specific inventory challenges so that you can escape the #blackfriday #fail Twitter hashtag combination next year.
Taking inventory management to the cloud builds on the expected benefits associated with a cloud deployment. The minimal—and sometimes zero—footprint of a cloud deployment puts less strain on your IT resources with a lower workload as well as reduced hardware and maintenance costs. In addition to enabling faster implementation at a lower cost, a secure and reliable cloud-based inventory solution provides a level of visibility and controlled access to supply chain data for trading partners that generates unique benefits in effectively managing inventory.
Right sizing inventory is a continuous struggle. Too much or too little can disrupt cash flow or lead to dissatisfied customers. Whether your task is to meet demand for customers, retail shoppers or downstream trading partners, inventory shortages can have a drastic effect on your ability to deliver. At the other end of the spectrum, having too much inventory on hand is detrimental to cash flow, tying up capital and space. Depending on your industry, excess inventory can lead to mark downs or product obsolescence, all of which have the same result: a negative impact on your bottom line.
Part of the challenge of finding the right balance to reduce lead times and minimize carrying costs is a lack of transparency up and down the extended supply chain. Staying in sync with your key suppliers and trading partners requires communicating reliable inventory information in a timely manner. Managing inventory in the cloud lets you easily share information with trading partners for instantaneous updates. Look for a cloud solution that allows secure, controlled access to inventory information from your system of record—acting as a single source of truth—or can itself be a system of record. By leveraging the cloud, business process owners, trading partners and even customers benefit from ease of access to the inventory information they need.
From smaller businesses that don’t require a standalone system of record to large enterprises that maintain multiple systems, the flexibility of cloud-based inventory management can provide real-time access and insight into inventory information from any data source. For companies managing multiple ERP (enterprise resource planning), SCM (supply chain management) and other systems of record, a cloud-based inventory management solution consolidates that information to give users a comprehensive view of inventory and instant access to actionable information in a single solution.
If your supply chain includes smaller, satellite locations, extending enterprise software solutions to optimize remote inventory operations can prove too costly or time consuming. Cloud-based inventory management is a low-cost alternative, enabling you to track inventory in remote locations or in motion.
To illustrate how the cloud can facilitate efficient inventory management in remote areas, consider a field service example. If a new part is required, but isn’t available on the truck, an inventory management solution in the cloud could allow that technician to identify other trucks nearby, or the closest supplier carrying the part. Accessing inventory information in the cloud would thereby save the tech valuable time and improve customer service.
Cloud-based inventory management doesn’t just improve visibility into where inventory is and where it needs to be, it can also give valuable insight into how effectively inventory is managed. Managing inventory in the cloud creates the opportunity to empower users with analytics to improve operational responsiveness and decision-making. Inventory analytics in the cloud provides real-time insights such as inventory value, inventory turns, stockout rates, rate of return and available quantity on hand, enabling you to make quick decisions, improve inventory accuracy and reduce inventory levels while still meeting customer commitments.
Regardless of your industry, having the visibility to collect, access, analyze and share inventory information provides powerful results in your extended supply chain. DSI’s cloud-based Inventory Management Solution gives you the tools to take control of inventory across all facilities and remote locations and provide immediate access to inventory information for both your team and your trading partners. To learn more about what inventory management in the cloud can do for your business, explore DSI’s Inventory Management Solution.