When you’re running a business, and especially when it is your first business, managing inventory can be a hassle. Fortunately, although there is much to be said about trial and error, there is also tons of information available online to help you make wise decisions on how to manage your inventory right from the beginning.
Choose the right carrier.
First off, choosing a carrier is not as simple as it seems. You have many options, ranging from standard mail to local couriers. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to decide who to use. Most shippers, however, use a combination of the Postal Service, FedEx, and UPS. The USPS is your most economical option, although it is not as reliable, and tracking may be an issue. UPS and FedEx are both considered leaders in the industry; choosing between these two should come down to service in your local area and negotiated rates.
Track your assets.
Tracking your assets is not always as easy as looking on the shelf. You can use tools, such as two-dimensional barcodes (which can hold much more data than old-fashion options) to help you keep track of what you have. A barcode tracking system can also help you quickly identify obsolete inventory and how fast items rotate off the shelf. As a supply-chain tool, high-quality barcodes, which should remain legible even in small print, can take much of the grunt work out of keeping track of your products.
Maintain the right amount of product.
In addition to knowing your obsolete inventory, you also have to know how to keep pace with customer demand. This involves establishing a baseline, or minimum, number of each particular product you should keep on the shelf at all times. Doing so can help you eliminate short shipments and reduce customer wait time.
Check your data.
No matter what kind of business you are in, data drives it. Implement a system of checks and balances to confirm that your formatting is correct. This will help reduce sending packages to the wrong address or mislabeling items as they are boxed up. Remember, your data is only as good as the people inputting it, so stress the power of quality over quickness.
Package once and package well.
Want to avoid unhappy customers? First, you have to make sure the package gets to them, and second, you have to ensure the products inside are undamaged. How you package your products depends on what they’re made of. Industrial sourcing platform Thomas notes that other considerations are price, durability, and recyclability.
Watch all of your platforms.
In business, it’s crucial that you don’t rely on one single platform for growth. However, when you deal with multiple selling outlets, you increase your potential for inventory and shipping mistakes. Make sure that all orders route through a single management system so that you do not inadvertently sell the same product to four different people all at once.
Know your wholesaler.
Finally, choose your wholesalers wisely. Look for a provider that understands your business and has excellent reviews by others in your industry. If possible, visit tradeshows and network with other professionals to get a better idea of how your preferred supplier operates.
The above advice can help you start and run your business when you deal with physical products. But remember, there is much more to being a successful entrepreneur than selling. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a mentor for more advice, and follow business leaders in your area on social media for insight into their way of thinking.