In omnichannel and ecommerce companies, inventory management, including tracking and reserving inventory for orders, is crucial for maximizing sales and improving customer satisfaction. If you can’t give customers accurate product availability, status, immediate delivery and store pickup, you’ll probably lose the sale and the relationship.

Inventory management systems and processes are dispersed throughout the business. It’s also difficult to analyze how to improve accuracy and timeliness. Without a total replacement, how can you incrementally improve systems and processes?

We will outline a 5-step process for assessing your inventory systems and developing an action plan for improvement.

Assemble Your Team

Make the project team company-wide including:

  • Study groups of merchants and inventory control
  • Warehouse personnel that can contribute inventory knowledge in receiving, cycle counting, order fulfillment and returns processes
  • Store personnel picking customer orders
  • Ecommerce analysts that work with inventory status
  • IT personnel that know these systems and can estimate desired systems changes
  • Finance
  • A senior management sponsor who can help elevate the priorities and solutions

Assess the Objective

Assess how the inventory management processes and systems can be improved in terms of accuracy, timeliness and higher order fill rates to maximize sales and customer service. To achieve this look at all these systems and supporting processes including:

  • Merchandise planning
  • Purchasing and purchase orders
  • In transit to DC and ASNs
  • Receiving, checking and put-away of stock
  • Customer order fill at store level
  • Customer order fulfillment and relieving inventory in the DC
  • Allocation and reservation of items to an order in the network
  • Returns processing and disposition as saleable
  • Inventory adjustments

What’s the Big Picture?

Start out collecting metrics that give you a picture of inventory accuracy. Data sets include order fill rates, formal inventory results…