When in business, you will constantly be chided about how a good inventory management system is vital in keeping business operations smooth. Your quality of inventory control will cause an unstoppable domino effect on how the business will run. It will be intrinsic to your decisions on budgeting, marketing, production levels, overhead costs, and others, so the information surrounding your inventory must always be accurate and up-to-date.
It’s fortunate that solutions in the form of industrial surplus buyers and other liquidation services have now become more accessible in the case of unexpected shifts in trends that cause inventory excess. But while it is indeed wise to have contingency plans like these, it does not hurt to also update ourselves on some of the more modern options when it comes to inventory tracking, and evaluate if it’s time to get a more suitable system to our operations.
Here are some of the most common ways to track inventory:
- Bar codes
Bar codes are those black and white striped patterns you see taped or printed on products pretty much everywhere. Businesses ranging from local convenience stores to small parts manufacturers use this system because it can be used without problem for all sorts of data collection. These monochromatic patterns are read by a machine, which then translates them into readable, detailed information about a given product. It is an accurate and effective way to keep track of inventory, so more and more businesses that formerly employed manual inventory auditing are shifting to bar code systems to adapt to the demands of modernization.
Serialization uses serial numbers to track individual units of mostly high-value products. These products include smart gadgets, jewelry, firearms, and the like. The common denominator among these products is the need to be able to identify individual pieces of each, in the event of repairs, recalls, criminal involvement, government regulation, among others. Because of this, no two products must have the same serial number. This type of tracking takes more effort and costs to integrate, and it is also necessary only for specific products. Therefore, unlike bar codes, it is not as much of a household name.
- Lot Control
This system is similar to serialization in that products are assigned numbers for business owners to track and identify them. The difference is that while no two products can have the same serial number for serialization, the lot control system assigns a number to batches of products that share common attributes. This allows for the quick identification of manufacturing and expiry dates, among other needed information. Examples of products that usually employ this type of tracking are fireworks, fabric, and some seasonal food.
Kitting is when products are grouped, packaged, and then sold together to customers as one unit. The products in a kit are different but usually related; its collective usability and the convenience of the bundle appeal to the buyers. This system saves time that is otherwise spent on individually shipping items in the inventory that are commonly bought together anyway. Kitting benefits the inventory system by managing multiple units as one. It also reduces labor costs and helps prevent cases of dead stock or out-of-stock scenarios.
Inventory control is just as tricky terrain to navigate as any other aspect of the business. It requires just as much dedication and trial-and-error. However, providing contingency plans and allowing the system to grow and adjust every now and then will surely gear your business towards optimal results.