Every stage, process and function across your global supply chain is vital. Just one failure in your supply chain can be enough disrupt the flow. This is exactly why inventory management is among the most consequential elements of your supply chain. It serves as the pillar for the whole end-to-end process, balancing the inbound flow of materials and products with outbound shipments to distributors, retailers or out to your consumers.
In the best case scenario, the entire supply chain process is regulated by both existing and expected customer demand. Due to this, inventory management needs to be both reactive and proactive. It has to respond quickly to shifts in demand but also use every tool at its disposal to anticipate how demand may change, which allows you to make adjustments in your supply chain production rates and shipments as needed.
This is where technology can give your company an advantage, giving you access to the technologies and services you need to meet current customer demand. AI, data analytics, and the cloud can help you do just that. These 3 technologies give companies visibility in 2 key areas:
- Suppliers, Logistics And Transportation Partners
- Customer Marketplace
The Age Of Modern Inventory Management
(1) Using AI And ML – No one can dispute the fact that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies are the future. When combined with AI and ML, your data analytics is enhanced. For example, these technologies are helping drive a shift from traditional demand planning methods to automating demand. Yes, demand automation, the right technology can make a huge difference in your inventory management.
(2) Data Analytics – One can argue that data analytics is one of the most important inventory management aids, especially when it pertains to market demand. With all of your data in hand, you will be able to better forecast demand, shifting from reactive to more proactive in the process. The data feeding and analytics engines can include everything from actual sales numbers and trends to social media posts, weather forecasts, and information on labor strikes. POS Data shows sales and inventory data down to a SKU/store level of detail, which is extremely important for all retailers. Data and analytics is your key to going next level with your inventory management.
(3) Leverage The Cloud – The Cloud gives you scalability, allowing you to quickly respond to production and delivery. If you need to increase production, the cloud makes it quick and easy to do just that.
(4) Reimagine Your Inventory Management – The inventory management function requires start to finish visibility across your entire supply chain, the best way to get this comprehensive visibility is with the cloud. This will allow you to see everything, from raw materials to your customer’s sale. Still, there’s a few things you need to focus on;
- Having the ability to collect data on your cloud-enabled technology, API integrations can give you that ability, which ensures you’re getting up-to-date data from your supply chain.
- Gaining visibility on your inventory throughout your supply chain can help you avoid stockouts, excess or shortages.
- Being able to see your inventory in real-time is a huge advantage, it allows you to react immediately. By doing so, you can take the right steps to ensure customer service is never overbearing.
- With your ability to control demand across multiple tiers, you can automate inventory replenishment to improve supply chain efficiency.
- Just like with your supply chain pillars, inventory management needs to evolve to keep up with changing customer demands. The gained visibility to customers, the market, suppliers, logistics and transportation partners is possible through AI, data analytics and the cloud. These are key to modern inventory management.