In an increasingly unpredictable business environment, it is important to find ways to stabilize your finances and be prepared for what is on the horizon. An excellent way to do that is by implementing an inventory scanning system to help you with your inventory management. In this article, we will cover what that is and how it helps your business.
What is an inventory scanning system?
An inventory scanning system uses barcodes, barcode scanners, and software integrations to automate your reordering, receiving, cycle counting, and order fulfillment processes. Fishbowl offers an app you can access on an Android or Apple mobile device to enable you to do these things.
Barcodes – With Fishbowl, you can create and print as many barcodes as you need. You can print them on a variety of labels, which you can then attach to products, shelves, and more. Barcodes let you bring up a lot of information on products in seconds, and they reduce the need for manual data entry, which we will talk about in greater detail below.
Barcode scanners – You can purchase specialized scanners to use in conjunction with your inventory scanning system, or you can make use of the mobile devices you already own by downloading the Fishbowl app onto them. They just need to meet certain technical specifications and have strong enough cameras to scan barcodes.
Software integrations – You should make sure your barcode scanners are connected to a good inventory solution, and that that inventory solution integrates with many other business solutions. That way, you can update your inventory quantities in quick order and then automatically push that updated data to your other records. This facilitates proper invoicing, accounting figures, available quantities on eCommerce platforms and CRMs, etc.
Employee training – People are just as important as technology, if not more so, when it comes to implementing and utilizing an inventory scanning system. If your employees are trained on how to use barcode scanners in their work, they will become more productive, so it’s important to get them up to speed. Fishbowl offers training videos, a Documentation Wiki, and many additional training resources to help in this effort.
Now that we have a firm grasp of the what, we can now go into the why. The main reason to use barcodes, scanners, and other advanced tools to manage your inventory is because doing so saves money. You are able to be more efficient in how you operate your company, avoid costly errors, and ensure your inventory records are accurate. These are things that simply can’t be done with a manual system.
Eliminate unnecessary carrying costs – Carrying costs are often obscured, but they are still a burden on a large number of businesses. If you order too many goods, you will have to assign more shelf space to them as they wait to be sold, meaning you will have less room and less money to devote to goods that could have produced more revenue. An inventory scanning system allows you to track sales and organize inventory data into charts and reports that will help you avoid ordering too many of a particular item.
Drastically reduce the risk of stockouts – If cutting down on carrying costs is important, then by the same token so is avoiding stockouts. You don’t want to order too few goods, because that will lead to missed sales opportunities as customers go away disappointed and may even have to order from one of your competitors. Barcodes, and the system that goes along with them, give you the tools you need find that sweet spot in-between too much and too little.
Make the most of employees’ time – Employee productivity is greatly improved with the aid of an inventory scanning system. Employees are no longer tied to a desktop computer, or forced to do everything manually. With a barcode scanner, they can go through the warehouse and perform cycle counts, do batch picks, and more. In fact, they can optimize their picking route to get the items they need to pick for multiple sales orders in one trip, instead of having to go back and forth several times.
Increase the accuracy of your inventory records – Earlier, we mentioned that an inventory scanning system reduces the need for manual data entry. This is significant, because the less you have to enter data by hand, the more accurate your inventory records will be. It is easy to make a mistake when entering a product number during the reordering process, but if you simply scan each item’s barcode, you don’t have to worry about accidentally entering the wrong information. Most of that part is done for you, and you will have inventory quantities that reflect what is actually on your shelves.
Speed up the order-fulfillment process – Anything you can do to get products into the hands of your customers faster will be a big boon to your business. And barcodes fit that bill perfectly. As we mentioned above, barcodes and mobile devices allow you to quickly pick goods in the warehouse to fulfill sales orders by mapping out the most efficient routes. Shortly after a sales order is received, your software will alert you to the steps that must be taken to fulfill it. Not only that, but you will be prompted to reorder more goods if they are too low once you pick them for an order. If you have set up automatic reorder points, that is. All of this is designed to keep your fulfillment process running smoothly and more quickly than you ever thought possible.
Eliminate double or triple data entry – We have touched on data entry several times, and now we are going to hit this point home. When you integrate multiple shippers, eCommerce platforms, CRMs, merchant services, accounting solutions, and more with your inventory software, you end up with a powerful automation system. After a sale is made on a website, it gets automatically transferred to your inventory software, which then sends that information to your accounting solution to be recorded in the general ledger. The inventory quantity available to be sold gets updated in your CRM and all of your eCommerce accounts. You can compare shipping rates to pick the one that fits best, and then print the appropriate shipping labels. And that’s just one example of how an inventory scanning system eliminates the need for double or triple data entry. It is a big time saver by keeping your various business solutions in sync.
Try Fishbowl today to see how it can help your business gain the numerous advantages of an advanced inventory scanning system!