What is the best way to plan your inventory? What even is an inventory plan? These are both perfectly reasonable questions to ask. Let’s answer the second one first. An inventory plan is an outline of how you order, store, and move all of the items you have in stock for the purpose of either selling to customers or using in your business operations.
There are a number of aspects of inventory planning that are important to keep in mind as you develop and implement a plan. These include:
Warehouse Layout – The placement of all of your inventory items on the shelves, rows, and aisles within a warehouse.
Vendor Management – The suppliers you obtain your raw materials and/or finished goods from to keep your location(s) stocked.
Multiple Locations – Your warehouses. If you have more than one warehouse where you store goods, you will need to keep track of each one of them.
Stock Alert Levels – The reorder levels of your items. The system sends you a text and/or email when an item reaches its stock alert level so you know to reorder it.
Customer Management – Information on your customers, such as their billing and mailing addresses, past orders, and contact information.
Seasonal Trends – Ups and downs in the number of items being sold and ordered at different times of the year.
Pick, Pack, Ship – The process of getting certain items off the shelf, putting them into shipping containers, and sending them to customers.
Let’s delve even deeper into each of these points to fully answer the second question of what is an inventory plan. Once we have gone in depth on each of these points, we will circle back at the end to answer the first question of what is the best way to plan your inventory.
The warehouse layout is important because it determines how well you use your space. Not only should you ensure everything is marked and tagged, but you should also put items that are often sold together close by each other to speed up the picking process. Doing these things helps you to know where everything is stored so that you can easily find it when the time comes. Also, there is usually plenty of vertical space in warehouses. Make use of it with forklifts and other equipment. The warehouse layout that you set up does not have to be set in stone. You can certainly revisit it from time to time to make sure that if conditions change, you will be ready to adapt to them.
It is essential that you know which vendors to work with to obtain your goods and to know the payment terms you are expected to abide by when paying for those goods. You may even want to set up default vendors for all of your items to speed up the reordering process.
When a business gets big enough to branch out into multiple locations, it needs to be able to separate each location’s inventory, sales, and other features. That way, business leaders can tell how many of each they have on a per-location basis. Items will not necessarily sell at the same rate at every store or warehouse. There must be room for customization by location. And if a part or product does run out at one location, you should be able to quickly transfer duplicates of it from another location where you still have it in stock. Then you can make adjustments to the plan to try to prevent that situation in the future.
Stock Alert Levels
Stock alert levels are a big help in keeping your warehouse appropriately stocked without going overboard and storing too many items. You can go through all of your items and specify the lowest level that they can comfortably be at before it is time to order more of them. You can even decide the appropriate number to reorder when you receive an automated text message or email telling you to reorder.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had one place you could go to see each of your customers’ order history, physical address, phone number, email address, payment terms, assigned sales representative, and more? This could save a lot of time and make it easier to keep in touch with your customers and make sure they are getting the attention they deserve. You can do that with Boxstorm’s online inventory management solution. In fact, you can use it to do all of the things we have discussed in the other sections.
Running reports can help you spot seasonal trends so that you will know when product sales are rising or falling. This will make it possible for you to adjust your inventory levels accordingly. You may even want to revisit your stock alert levels to make sure they accurately reflect the current circumstances.
Pick, Pack, Ship
You should have a process in place so that when a sales order comes in, your warehouse workers know what to do. If you have done everything listed above, your employees will know where to find the items on the sales order, those items will be in stock, and they will be in ideal spots in the warehouse to make the picking process that much more efficient.
What Is the Best Way to Plan Your Inventory?
And now let’s return to where we started to finally answer that question. The best way to plan your inventory is to use an inventory management solution that will help you to structure your warehouse, manage vendors, track inventory in multiple locations, set up stock alert levels, take care of customers, monitor seasonal trends, and fulfill orders.
Try Boxstorm Forever Free. It offers a variety of inventory management features that can help you with your inventory planning. Sign up for a free account with Boxstorm Forever Free, and you will never be asked for a credit card number or any other payment information in order to use it. And if you would like to gain access to even more features, those are also available in other versions of Boxstorm. Learn more about them here.
To plan your inventory well, you need to take the following aspects into account:
- Warehouse layout
- Vendor management
- Multiple locations
- Stock alert levels
- Customer management
- Seasonal trends
- Pick, pack, ship