RF-SMART currently helps over 1,000 global NetSuite customers to manage their inventory more efficiently. After completing over 2,000 warehouse and storeroom implementations, we have a pretty good handle on the types of challenges businesses commonly experience in the warehouse – and how to tackle them.
Needless to say, 2020 has been a particularly difficult year for everyone; many of the inventory pain points you experience day-to-day may have been magnified, and resolving them to stay competitive is a priority. Let’s take a look at the Top 3 inventory challenges that UK NetSuite users have experienced this year, and explore how other businesses have successfully overcome them.
1. Data Integrity
Poor data integrity simply means having a lack of visibility over what’s happening in your inventory warehouse. Are you accurately recording the status of your stock and the processes involved in managing it? Reliable inventory data is foundational for a successful supply chain; it will determine how many errors you incur, how productive your staff are, and ultimately, whether or not your customers are happy.
The prevailing barrier to inventory accuracy is manual processes. From receiving through to shipping, if you’re recording your inventory transactions on paper, you’ll inevitably be transferring this data into NetSuite by hand. Aside from paper processes being inefficient and labour intensive, they are a giant magnet for human error.
NetSuite ERP users can significantly reduce (and even eliminate) their manual touchpoints with the help of technologies like mobile barcoding. By using a handheld scanner to track your stock as it moves through the warehouse, each transaction will be validated and recorded in your ERP; any errors will be flagged for immediate correction, protecting the integrity of your data.
PetShop.co.uk is a fantastic real-world example of how mobile inventory management can boost business performance. After moving to a new warehouse in 2017 during a period of rapid growth, this UK-based E-Retailer implemented RF-SMART to help overcome challenges with productivity and accuracy.
“Before RF-SMART, we were printing everything on paper. We were printing picking tickets, which we would give out individually to pickers and packers. We saw cracks in our customer service by not getting orders out quickly enough.”
By automating their once manual processes, PetShop.co.uk were quickly able to reduce their obsolete stock and increase the value of their balance sheet by a substantial 20%. As workers were now guided through the warehouse by a mobile device, sales orders were processed much faster and with fewer errors. “Customer retention is a very important thing, because if you’re not getting orders out accurately next-day as an e-commerce business, you lose sales,” said Adam Taylor, Founder. “That’s imperative, and RF-SMART’s been instrumental in us being able to achieve that.”
A lack of operational accuracy was reportedly the next major hurdle. Without a firm grasp on your inventory data, problems will begin to trickle down to the shop floor in the form of mis-picks, mis-ships, redundant stock, and so on. KPIs you can use to capture your operational accuracy may include:
Number of successful picks per day
Average order fulfilment time
Order return rate
If you’re a manufacturer, you’ll also want to focus on optimising your assembly activities to ensure your goods are being produced efficiently. This was the case for JTAPE, a manufacturer of specialist tape products. As a result of labelling their inventory and scanning along the assembly process, they successfully decreased their assembly build times by 75%.
JTAPE’s second challenge was counting; manual counts were laborious and unreliable, eating away at their overall productivity. RF-SMART enabled them to perform cycle counts, updating NetSuite in real-time. “Stock counts are ten times easier now, compared to what we were doing before,” said Dan Illingworth, Warehouse Supervisor.
It’s a no brainer that businesses should seek to reduce their costs to maximise profits, but this becomes a little trickier when there’s a lack of transparency over the long-term price of a project.
If you’re at the stage of evaluating vendors for a WMS or barcoding solution, be mindful of:
The cost of additional enhancements. Does the base solution offered meet the needs of your business, or will you have to purchase further customisations down the line? Be sure to pin down the full price tag before making any decisions.
Help and support. Does the vendor charge extra to provide your team with support and to resolve any issues that occur along the way? If so, these costs could very quickly spiral into a sum you're not prepared to pay.
Iterative downtime. Similar to NetSuite’s biannual updates, WMS solution providers will roll out fixes and new features throughout the year. In some cases, this may mean you have to pause operations while these updates take place. Also, the third-party system’s integration to NetSuite is a key factor; with hybrid and integrated solutions, data loss, additional professional services costs and connectivity limitations may be things to consider.
If you’re interested in learning more about our solution for NetSuite, watch our latest webinar that dives into these 3 Warehouse Challenges.
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