4 inventory management challenges to overcome for success

Any organisation that holds stock is up against a multitude of inventory management challenges. For starters, the international trading landscape is more unstable than ever. In addition, customers’ needs are constantly changing and e-commerce is driving increased competition from traders across the globe.

Manufacturers, suppliers and retailers all have lots to think about in order to survive and find opportunities for growth.

In this post we look at the top four stock management challenges that businesses need to address, both now and into the foreseeable future.

Top inventory management challenges

1. Supply disruption

Supply disruption leading to stock management challenges

Over the past couple of years, events such as Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic, have exposed how easy it is for inventory supply to be disrupted. Whether this is due to production shutdowns or logistical challenges, many UK businesses have found it difficult to source the products they need to prevent stockouts.

Going forward, businesses will need to find ways to make their supply chains more robust and able to deal with the impact of external events.

Supply chain resilience is a big focus for many, as they look at ways to mitigate supply risks into the future. For example, some inventory management teams are moving from just-in-time to just-in-case stock management strategies, so they have more stock available to overcome any challenges with supply.

2. Demand volatility

Customer behaviour is unstable at the best of times. Social, political and economic factors all cause demand trends that can appear overnight and lead to either huge peaks or troughs in sales.

Again, Covid 19 had a severe impact on demand across all industries, and, as regions moved in and out of lockdown, demand for different products rose and fell as a consequence.

Moving forward, demand could be affected by a multitude of factors, from consumer trends to environmental legislation. Businesses could therefore continue to face stock management challenges around accurately forecasting demand.

It’s critical however to find a solution, as having the ability to forecast demand accurately allows businesses take advantage of sales opportunities and prevent ending up with excess stock if demand falls away.

3. Understanding current stock levels

Despite a broad range of warehouse management systems and barcode technology on the market, many companies still have outdated processes for controlling their stock.

Inventory management challenges

Without having full visibility and an in-depth understanding of their inventory, it’s almost impossible to make informed supply chain decisions.

The technology to provide real-time inventory data is readily available and can help with:

  • Improving picking efficiency
  • Stock allocation across the supply chain
  • Reordering the right stock, to help prevent stockouts, as well as surplus inventory

The pace at which orders need to be fulfilled is getting faster, as customers want their goods in record time. Businesses, therefore, need to know where every stock item is, to avoid inventory management challenges getting in the way of customer satisfaction.

4. Lack of time and resource

With so much supply chain disruption taking place right now, inventory management teams need time to focus on managing customer expectations and dealing with operational challenges.

Unfortunately, those that are still using manual processes for tasks such as forecasting demand and reordering stock, will struggle to find the time to focus on the bigger picture.

Going forward, businesses will need to invest in supply chain digitalisation technologies to make employees more efficient and help them overcome stock management challenges.

The era of using spreadsheets to run reports and analyse data is over. Automation is already being used across all areas of an organisation to drive productivity – from finance, to marketing and production. It’s now time that inventory management teams had access to the same technical capabilities.

The future is likely to see many inventory management obstacles, such as dealing with the impact of global warming and adapting to continuously changing marketplaces. By building a digital supply chain now, businesses can future-proof their operations for everything that lies ahead.

It’s time to address your inventory management challenges

If you’re experiencing any of the inventory management challenges we’ve discussed above, you may benefit from investing in inventory optimisation software, such as EazyStock. EazyStock helps you improve demand forecasting accuracy, manage supplier lead times and reduces the time spent manually updating reordering parameters in your ERP. To find out more, contact us today!

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