Why is purchase order management important?

There are two areas of purchase order management: the number of POs issued and the timing of them. The first means finding the right balance – failing to write up enough of the orders could result in stock shortages, which could lead to you being unable to fill your customers’ orders; writing up too many could result in you being overstocked. If you’re overstocked, the additional cost of extra storage space and labor mean your business runs inefficiently. The second, your timing, refers to when you actually issue the PO. Do you wait until you’ve used up all your stocked items, or do you take care of restocking before reaching that point? When making these decisions, you have to keep in mind not just the amount of stock you want to keep tied up in storage, but the length of time it will take for your supplier to get your goods to you. If your supplier is in another country, for instance, your order could take months to get to you. It’s all about making sure you have enough of your items on hand at all times to keep your customers supplied and happy, but not too much of it.

You can see that managing your purchase orders can help your business run better. Let’s explore purchase orders in detail.

 

What is a purchase order?

A purchase order is a contractual agreement between a buyer and a supplier. In the United States, it becomes legally binding when the supplier accepts it. Purchase orders are issued by a company when it wants to purchase more goods from its supplier. Basically it is an instruction for the supplier. The description lists the names of the products, their stock numbers, colors, quantity, cost, the place they’re to be delivered to, and any other requirements.

Now that you know what a purchase order is, let’s check out the role they play in the buying process.

1. Issuing purchase orders

A purchase order is written up when a company needs to add items to its inventory. If the company is small, this can be the responsibility of the owner. But if it is a large company with many divisions, the PO may have to go through several administrators for approval. The PO will be sent over to the supplier at the completion of this stage.

2. Supplier approval

When the supplier receives the PO, they go over it to make sure they can fill the order and are comfortable with any stipulations it contains. They may ask the buyer to make some changes, and there may be some negotiating between the two parties. When both parties reach an agreement, the supplier has, in effect, accepted the PO, and it’s then that it becomes a legally binding contract.

3. Delivery of goods

The supplier sends the items requested on the PO to the buyer and issues an invoice. This invoice itemizes the goods the supplier has packed and shipped off, as well as the cost of each item and the full amount the buyer owes the seller. An invoice lets the buyer check a) that it is receiving everything it has ordered, and b) that it has been sent everything it is being charged for. The buyer will also, at this stage, carefully inspect the items to make sure they’re of high quality.

4. Payment

The buyer indicates that the items are accepted by sending the supplier a goods received note (GRN). The GRN is a confirmation of having received the goods in good order. Like the PO and the invoice, it lists the products, but as a legal document, it indicates the date and time of delivery and is signed by someone who has the authority to do so.  Payment of the invoice is dependent on the terms of the PO. These terms could indicate an immediate payment by the buyer, or a stated period of time after satisfactory receipt of the goods.

 

Explaining purchase order management

Purchase order management is an umbrella term that covers the process a business uses to handle their purchase orders. It covers everything from creating POs to dispatching them to maintaining records of them.

For a new company that’s still small, this process can be simple. Along with emails and phone calls, in these early days, a spreadsheet could be all that’s needed to record and keep track of purchase orders. But the information on spreadsheets has to be put in manually, making the system time consuming and prone to human error. These downsides only get worse as a business grows and the volume of orders increases. When that happens, a better, more manageable system is needed. That’s where purchase order management software comes into the picture.

Before we jump to PO management software, however, let’s check out the benefits of managing your purchase orders efficiently.

 

The importance of purchase order management

When you pay attention to purchase order management, your organization benefits in the following ways:

1. Better control over the amount you spend

Having department heads or managers approve purchase orders is a good way to control spending. In addition to making warehouse staff think about the items they put on a PO, it gives these supervisors the ability to make sure that everything being ordered is really needed and that their cost will not exceed the budget that’s been allocated for inventory. This approval process also gives managers a clear picture of how their department’s money is being spent.

2. Reduced storage costs

Keeping hold of more inventory than you need may ensure that you’ll always be able to fill an order, but it also means using up more storage space than is necessary. This unwanted, additional warehousing cost can be cut by controlling the amount you purchase. Controlling the amount you purchase is a major part of purchase order management. It means you only order when your stock is too low to cover your sales.

3. Help when it comes to avoiding stockouts

Purchase order management software automates the restocking process. This is how it works: The computer program recognizes when the inventory, or particular items in your stock, falls to a set lower limit. When that happens, the system automatically sends a PO to the supplier for more goods.

Computerizing your warehousing this way means always having the right amount of inventory to cover sales.

 

How Cin7 can help you with purchase order management

Cin7 is an integrated tool with several power-packed features. It can help you manage and control everything from the inventory you keep on hand to your restocking of it.

Cin7 keeps a record of all the purchase orders you create through our platform. With Cin7, you can instantly pull up specific purchase orders and generate reports for each one of them. These reports, customized by you, can include vital information such as the currency used for the order, exchange rates, customs and freight fees.

Our computerized system also allows you to save supplier details in the database. This information can be used to automatically add addresses and telephone numbers to forms, or it can generate purchase orders. It can even send the PO to the supplier. More than a time saver, when you can take care of your restocking like this, you get peace of mind.

As mentioned, Cin7 can be programmed to take care of restocking automatically. When the amount of stock you’re holding reaches a predetermined low, the system will automatically trigger a PO and send it directly to your supplier. You won’t have to worry about stockouts, and your business operations will run smoothly.

In addition to keeping track of your inventory and POs, Cin7 integrates accounting software like QuickBooks. This feature enables you to import all your POs and PO reports into your accounting system. It’s another aspect of Cin7 that improves and streamlines your business, making sure it’s as efficient as it can be.

To learn more about how Cin7 can help you manage purchase orders, schedule a call with one of our experts today.

5 elements of an optimized inventory management system

Retail businesses have an average of 20% inventory to sales ratio. This I/S ratio compares the value of your inventory with the amount you make from selling your goods. The I/S ratio is arrived at by dividing the revenue made from overall sales by the value of the stock that’s kept. So, with a 20% I/S ratio, if you make $100 from selling your items, your stock would be valued at $20. More simply, the I/S ratio here would be five (revenue made from sales divided by value of stock). Maintaining the I/S ratio that’s best for your business is key to maximizing profit. If there’s too much stock, profits are compromised; if there’s too little stock, orders might not be filled. Optimization is the key. What are the best ways to optimize inventory? And, what are the five elements of an optimized inventory management system? Let’s find out.

If you are a businessperson, deciding the amount of inventory you should keep on hand is crucial. If your stock runs out, or if you have too much of it, the consequences could be serious. There could be financial losses and your reputation could be damaged. The only way to avoid this is by having optimum inventory on hand, or the right amount you need. This article will help you to understand what inventory optimization is and explain the five elements of an optimized inventory management system.

 

What is inventory optimization?

Inventory optimization means maintaining an optimum amount of stock, stock being defined as all the stock-keeping units (SKUs) that are being held by a business. When a company has an optimum level of stock, its working capital is being used to its best advantage.

Overstocking inventory can result in

  • Working capital being tied up in unneeded stock.
  • Stock going out of fashion and becoming unsellable.
  • Workers spending time and energy unnecessarily.
  • An elevated risk of loss of goods to theft or accidents.
  • Valuable storage space being used unnecessarily.

On the other hand, understocking and stockouts can result in

  • Turnover being halted.
  • Company reputation being damaged.
  • Production lines being broken.
  • Workers’ time being lost.

Inventory optimization can eliminate these losses. Put another way, when optimal levels of inventory are maintained, resources, like physical space, labor, and capital, can be used in their most efficient ways.

 

5 elements of an optimized inventory management system

As we saw earlier, it is crucial to optimize the amount of inventory you keep at all times. But in order to do this right, what should you be focusing on? Let’s look at the key areas in detail.

Graded policies for inventory management

First, your stock policies should be clearly defined, and you should let the relevant people know about them well in advance. It isn’t helpful if the purchasing department is kept in the dark about these policies.

The inventory turnover ratio indicates the liquidity of the inventory, or the number of times the average inventory is sold during the year. It shows the efficiency and effectiveness of the company in investing its funds.

Inventory turnover time is the number of times a company replenishes its stock in a given period, generally a year. In other words, if you sell stainless steel spoons, the inventory turnover of finished product — spoons — is the number of times you sell out of spoons and replace them. The following formula shows how to calculate the inventory turnover ratio:

Inventory turnover ratio = Cost of goods sold
Average value of inventory

 

where,

Average inventory = Opening inventory + closing inventory
2

Cost of goods sold = Opening inventory + purchase – closing inventory

Now you know how many times a year you have to refill your inventory. The following categories of inventory are dependent on this ratio.

  • Fast moving – Fast-moving inventory is that which is used or sold in a short or easily known period of time. This period is different for every industry. The inventory turnover ratio will be higher for goods in this category.
  • Slow moving – Slow-moving goods are those that stay in your warehouse for a more extended period of time. The inventory turnover ratio for these types of goods will be lower.
  • Non-moving – Non-moving or obsolete goods are those stored in your warehouse for a long time because there is no market for them. This inventory is also known as dead stock.

These three categories should be a major consideration when making purchases. Separate your stock into each one, and invest more in goods that are fast moving than those that are slow-moving.

Realistic demand forecasting

Forecasting demand is, perhaps, the first step when it comes to good inventory management. Forecasting demand accurately is not an easy task, however. There are many aspects that have to be considered: historical sales data, customer biases, future demand, and growth. Additionally, it is crucial to take technological advances and trends into account.

How can you predict demand for your products accurately? Well, quality software can help. Cin7’s system generates reliable demand forecasting reports. Cin 7’s forecasting demand report can make your job a lot easier.

Determining product life cycle

The term product life cycle is defined as the period between the product’s initial production to the time it is no longer sold. If you launch a new product, sooner or later it will stop trending and your customers will move on to something else. There are five stages to a product’s life cycle that impact your inventory management:

  • Introduction – There is less awareness at this stage, so the demand is less, and there is no need to stock a lot of products.
  • Growth – Awareness of the product is on the rise, and the company should be prepared to fill more orders.
  • Maturity – This is when demand reaches a plateau. Demand will still be high, so the company won’t have to make changes to the level of stock it maintains.
  • Decline – Here, the company realizes that demand is dropping. Customers have had enough of the product and are buying less of it. When this point is reached, the company needs to reduce production and focus on replacing it with something new. This is also the time to push more of the product by offering discounts and rewards.
  • Obsolete – Now the product is totally out of demand. Any remaining inventory you have becomes dead stock.

The life cycle of a product can be short (a few months) or long (spread over years). These life cycles have to be taken into account when forecasting demand for your product. Doing this accurately will prevent overstocking or understocking,

Timely restocking

Your purchase department should have clear restocking instructions. Every item in the inventory should have a specific reorder point (ROP), a predetermined level of goods at which they have to be restocked. When determining this reorder point, you should consider:

  • Safety level for stock: This is the minimum amount you will need on hand to tide you over until your new order arrives. You don’t want to run out of stock.
  • Logistics: You have to consider the time it takes to get your goods to your factory or warehouse.
  • External factors: These include weather, political upheavals, and labor issues. Any one of them can affect your delivery time.
  • Supplier lead time: This is the time it takes your supplier to dispatch your products. Suppliers have different lead times.

Management needs to be aware of ROP to ensure stock is replaced in a timely manner. Inventory management software like Cin7 can send alerts that let you know when you reach this ROP.

Investing in reliable inventory management software

If you find inventory management challenging and are intimidated by the sheer number of calculations that have to be made, here’s an easy solution: Cin7. This versatile and easy-to-use software can help you manage your inventory easily. Among the features it has to make your life easier are

  • Determining reorder levels,
  • Alerting you when you reach ROP,
  • Sorting third-party logistics (3PL),
  • Helping you with B2B ecommerce,
  • Generating reports on COGS, forecasting, cashflows, and inventory on hand, and
  • Integrating with other software and mobile OS.

The following video shows how Cin7 inventory management software can help you take your business to the next level:

One of the significant advantages of Cin7 is its inventory management app. This app lets you connect to your inventory management program from anywhere.

 

Final take on inventory optimization

While inventory optimization is a crucial element of a successful business, it is also painstakingly tricky and complex. Overstocking can lead to losses, while understocking can damage your reputation. How can you overcome these dilemmas? Cin7 inventory management software turns the whole ordeal into a piece of cake.

Why wait? Contact our experts for a demo, and unlock the true potential of your inventory.

How retailers can thrive in tough economic times

The last few years have been really hard for retailers. Disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic forced many businesses to slow or halt operations altogether.  Factory shutdowns created a production backlog, with 38.8% of small businesses facing delays from suppliers, according to the US Census Bureau.  At the same time, consumer demand for many products spiked as people panicked about the future, making it difficult for retailers to meet demand.

Today, there are new challenges for retailers. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has destabilized the energy and commodity markets. Labor shortages have made it difficult to find workers, and inflation is at 40 year highs. In fact, in a survey conducted by Small Business for America’s Future (SBAF) 60 percent of 1,576 small business owners said that inflation is their top challenge.

 

What can retailers do to improve their situation?

 1. Improve your inventory management

Inflation makes it expensive to replenish your inventory from suppliers. You need to either raise your budget to get the same level of inventory that you got before the inflationary period, or you must lower your order quantity.

It is important to be strategic about your inventory, as piling up unsold inventory raises storage costs and freezes your working capital.

ABC analysis is a popular inventory classification method that can help you sort your inventory. It helps identify the critical SKUs that generate the majority of revenue for your business.

To learn more about ABC analysis, refer to our detailed guide.

Using your sales data, you  can eliminate underperforming SKUs. You can channel your working capital to acquire the best sellers by removing the bad ones. To ensure that you don’t overstock underperforming products, it is important to always have a clear picture of what is in your inventory.

Cin7 inventory management software offers advanced reporting features that can improve your inventory planning. In addition to inventory tracking, you can gauge the performance of your SKUs and forecast the demand accordingly. With the right data at your fingertips, you can make better decisions around inventory replenishment and avoid overstocking situations.

2. Use inventory management software to leverage multichannel sales

Using specialized inventory management software can be a gamechanger for multichannel sales.

Without inventory management software, you’ll have to manually allocate inventory for your offline and online stores, which can lead to a loss in opportunities. For instance, say you sell smartphones on Amazon, Shopify, and your bricks-and-mortar store. If you have 100 units of iPhone 13 ready to sell, then you have two options:

Option 1: Placing maximum inventory for all channels

In this option, you put the same quantity (100) on the online and offline store. The problem is if you receive 60 orders online and 60 orders offline at the same time, you cannot fulfill all the orders as you have oversold your inventory. You have a total of 100 units, but the ordered quantity is 120.

Option 2: Dividing the inventory
Another option is to divide the inventory across all the channels. You can allocate 33 units for Amazon, 33 units for Shopify, and 34 units for your offline store. In this case, the issue is underselling. If someone wants to place an order of 50 units on Amazon, but you’ve listed only 33 units, you’ll miss out on potential sales despite having inventory in your backend.

An inventory management solution saves you from the trouble of allocating inventory. It syncs your inventory in real-time, so if you receive 60 orders from Amazon, it automatically reduces the available inventory to 40 in Shopify and your offline point-of-sale system.

In addition to multi-channel sales, offering omnichannel support (i.e., unifying the online and offline buying experience) can sweeten the pot. Joe Troyer (CEO of Review Grower) says, “Customers are smoothly switching between online and offline experiences, and they are willing to shop at businesses that can make this transition as simple as possible. In-store research and showrooming, the practice of inspecting a product in-store only to make the buy online, are now more widespread than ever thanks to the development of mobile retail.

By incorporating real-time feedback across channels and devices and engaging the customer wherever they may be, they may use the right customer data to build an omnichannel customer experience that enables consumers to participate whenever and however they choose.”

3. Learn from competitors

You should carefully monitor the actions of your close competitors. Ask:

  • What are my competitors doing to attract more customers?
  • Are they making any changes in their pricing strategies?
  • Are they offering any discounts or bundling products to offer more value?
  • How are they promoting their business across various channels to attract new customers?

The insights you collect will help you in determining the price changes in the market so that you can maintain price parity.

For those who are pondering over offering products much cheaper than the competition, with the intent of attracting their customers — this can backfire. For instance, low pricing might signal that your quality is inferior to your competitors (tarnishing your brand image). Additionally, increasing your sales volume by reducing prices doesn’t necessarily lead to higher profits when there is inflation.

4. Outsource fulfillment to 3PL

Being strategic in what you outsource can be of immense help in reducing your operational costs and freeing up working capital. You should focus on cutting costs without sacrificing the product’s quality.

Third-party logistics (3PL) providers are businesses that take care of an organization’s supply chain and logistical operations. 3PL providers can offer a lot of fulfillment services such as

  • Warehousing,
  • Shipping and receiving,
  • Order picking and packing, and
  • Returns management.

If you do all this on your own, you will incur the hassle of setting up your warehouse, hiring and training employees to fulfill the orders efficiently, managing payroll, and maintaining the warehouse. Outsourcing this to a 3PL can help you save money. Additionally, as they specialize in fulfillment, you can expect a lower error rate in shipping orders.

Altogether you get better efficiency and professional experience while saving you time and resources.

Speaking of logistics, Amazon has made it a norm for customers to expect free shipping. However, offering free shipping at this time can put you in a very tough spot. Here is a suggestion from Anders Ekman (COO at Ingrid delivery platform):

“Interestingly, there is a “sweet spot” where paying for delivery might mean selling fewer products, but still earning more. It turns out that free shipping is not always the best solution for every e-retailer after all.

To give you an example, one of our customers at Ingrid started experimenting with paid delivery options instead of offering free shipping for all orders. Once they began to charge 10 SEK more for the delivery, the conversion decreased by 2.5% but the value of an average shopping cart increased by 4.2%. At the end of the day, revenue from deliveries alone increased by 11% and the profit margin increased by 5.5%.

If you’re still skeptical, you can start small – A/B test your delivery checkout alternatives, and offer different delivery options and prices based on what margin you have on the product (for example, a high-profit margin item should have a lower delivery cost and vice versa). Whatever you decide, don’t be afraid to start charging customers for deliveries. Experiment with your delivery strategy and different software integration – the results might truly surprise you, despite the current economic climate.”

5. Revamp your pricing and promotional strategy

High inflation also strikes your supply chain partners, and they are likely to offset the “extra” expenses upon you. For instance, if you use a fulfillment partner to deliver your products, rising fuel prices could force them to raise their fees and increase your expenses. You need a strategy for pricing because drastic price changes can negatively impact your sales.

Here’s what Lou Haverty (CFA and founder of Enhanced Leisure) recommends: “Retailers feel a pinch on both sides. Retailers face higher costs sourcing their products, but face slowing consumer demand. They can either lose margin or risk lower customer sales if they raise prices.

Their best option is to reduce product quantity instead of price. Keep the price the same, but slowly reduce the quantity sold at a given price point. This creates the least amount of negative customer feedback.”

Rethinking the product assortment is also crucial for maintaining healthy sales. “Due to rising prices, customers are less likely to stick with a single brand and are instead purchasing private-label items.

Retailers may take advantage of this by revising their category strategy frequently. Product-specific inflationary pressures and quickly altering customer preferences must be balanced by winning retailers. For example, their balance of private and national brands might be reconsidered.” says Sina Will (Marketing manager at Foxbackdrop). You can also bundle your low sellers with best sellers to clear off your inventory and offer a better value to the customers.

At tough times like this, you need your loyal customers more than ever. Here are some tips by Amar Vig (MD at London-fs) to build customer loyalty, “Remember that most customers also serve others in their day jobs, so when they are behind the counter, they want to feel significant.

Promotions and freebies can undoubtedly help customers feel special, but personalization is the actual secret to a truly memorable experience.

Retailers can increase customer loyalty by getting to know their clients through their prior purchases and hobbies. These conclusions can be drawn from statistics or even from a straightforward chat. Which of these approaches is most practical will undoubtedly depend on the size of the company, but no company should be too big to have a casual chat with a regular client.

The customer’s preferred form of communication may be used to give customized content and offers that anticipate their desires and requirements and direct them down the sales funnel toward their next purchase. Even a personalized email subject line can make all the difference.”

6. Leverage working capital

You need a consistent cash flow to combat inflation. If your expenses exceed the income generated, you have a negative cash flow. Conversely, if you’re making more cash than paying – you are cash flow positive.

The benefit of having liquidity can’t be overstated. Thanks to consistent cash flow, you can continue running your operations as usual. You’ll be able to pay your staff on time, boosting their morale and productivity. Moreover, you can avoid out-of-stock situations by having enough money to buy more inventory.

If you’re running an offline store, then negotiating better rental terms with the landlord can help alleviate the monthly overhead. Leveraging your bargaining power can also help in saving some working capital. “While small retailers don’t exert the same sort of control as big retailers, there are still ways to reorient your supply and distribution networks for cost and distance efficiencies, even if it means saying goodbye to some old suppliers and making friends with new ones,” says Alice Li (Founder of First Day).

In case your retail store isn’t able to generate enough consistent cash flow, you can resort to retail borrowing solutions. You can get a business line of credit to get some relief. Finding a suitable financing option can help your retail business to cover up for the extra expenses led by inflation.

7.Refine the buying experience at your retail store

To survive, retailers need to find ways to deliver better value to the customers. The rise in online shopping has made competing tough for some traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.

Brandon Wilkes (marketing manager at The Big Phone Store) highlights the importance of cleanliness, “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of health and safety, and this is likely to be a key consideration for consumers in the future. Retailers will need to ensure that their stores are clean and safe, and that their products are sourced from reputable suppliers. They will also need to be transparent about their health and safety policies and procedures.”

“Brick-and-mortar retailers can use their physical locations to create unique customer experiences that cannot be replicated online. In addition, retailers can focus on providing personalized service and developing relationships with their customers. By doing so, they can create a loyal customer base that will continue to support them in the future.” says James Jason (founder of Notta.ai).

To deliver a stellar buying experience, you need to listen to them. In the words of Bill Glaser (CEO of Outstanding Foods), “Retailers can also improve customer retention (guaranteeing profitability) by innovating according to customer feedback. Small businesses have the unique advantage of adjusting quickly to changing consumer demands. Your business can survive and thrive during economic downturns if you hone in on customer needs.”

Irrespective of the experience that you deliver at the offline store, there are still some strong merits of having an online store. For starters, you can reach out to more people than in your local vicinity. Even the operational costs of scaling are marginally lower than an offline store. Thus, instead of competing with online stores, it’s wise to also complement your offline store with an online store. Cin7 can help with that.

8. Make product returns a win-win situation for consumers and you

At a time when consumers are thinking carefully about their purchase decisions, you should do everything possible to mitigate their purchase risks. Allowing product returns is one such tactic that you can use for risk-reversal.

However, stores must weigh the cost of receiving returns. For starters, it increases storage costs, and you don’t want to pile up excess inventory that doesn’t get sold. In this regard, Gary C. Smith (President of NAEIR) says, “Returned products are a headache. They need to be inspected and repackaged, which takes valuable time. Plus, the retailer is taking a chance that the product won’t go out of style or expire before it can be resold. It’s unlikely most returns can be resold at full price, so even brand-new merchandise can end up at a liquidation warehouse or in the trash heap.

Rather than trashing merchandise or selling to a liquidation warehouse, where brand identity can be at risk, retailers have another option: Making in-kind donations to a nonprofit. The resulting tax break may be quite handsome, and it may even be more financially beneficial than reselling the merchandise at a cut-rate price.”

9. Use an inventory forecasting tool

In normal circumstances, retailers can accurately forecast product demand. However, with an inflationary environment, the market is volatile, so forecasting demand can become… demanding.

Incorrect inventory forecasting leads to situations like understocking or overstocking, both of which aren’t desirable for any retailer. Read our inventory planning guide to learn best practices to improve your forecasting. 

If you’re looking for a sophisticated software solution for inventory forecasting, you should check out StockTrim. Based on the demand levels and your supplier’s lead time, you can get details about the quantity that you should order to ensure that you don’t face stockouts. You can also analyze the current demand trends from StrockTrim. With the tool, you can even predict the demand for new products (without any sales history).

In addition to all this, Stocktrim perfectly integrates with Cin7

 

Way Ahead

Navigating economic challenges is part of the business of retail. Successful navigation is made easier with the right tools. Cin7’s inventory management tools offers real-time inventory visibility, advanced reporting features, and multi-channel sales management to give you better insights and improve your operations. Book a demo with our experts today.

How to execute a year-end inventory count

Whether you’re running an auto body shop, a law firm, or a retail store, doing a year-end inventory count helps your business close the books on the past 12 months and organize yourself for the year ahead. In fact, the year-end inventory count is necessary for successful inventory management throughout the year. It allows you to clean up records and gives your business verified data to analyze.

Since retailers have a lot of inventory to manage, counting inventory correctly is crucial and allows you to make informed buying decisions later. Learn how to execute a year-end inventory count and how your annual count can help forecast demand for the year ahead in this article.

 

What is a year-end inventory count?

A year-end inventory count is a physical count of all the inventory on hand at the end of the year. The count is performed to verify that the physical inventory matches the numbers in your inventory management system.

A year-end inventory count is different from an inventory cycle count, which audits a smaller portion of inventory. While a cycle count allows you to monitor your inventory by sampling your inventory throughout the year, a year-end inventory is a physical count of everything you have on hand at one given point in time.

 

How do you conduct a year-end inventory count?

These are the steps that you need to follow for inventory counting:

  • First and foremost, you need to plan the day for conducting inventory count. It’s crucial to pause your warehousing operations while you do perform the counting so that you get an accurate snapshot of your inventory. You should plan a day that causes minimal impact on pausing the operations.
  • Once you finalize the date, you should form the team who will perform the stock counting. It is important to train them about your counting process and acquaint them with the warehouse’s premises. Dry runs can be organized a few days before the actual counting day.
  • You should also prepare your warehouse for the stock counting process. It should be thoroughly cleaned, and steps should be taken to ensure that there’s no scattered inventory. If there are boxes lying around the warehouse, it will slow down the workers who are counting.
  • The warehouse should be organized, and the areas (count zones) should be divided amongst the counting team so that everyone knows their responsibilities.
  • It’s crucial to equip your team with the right tools for counting. For manual counting, you can use counting tags. If you are using tags, then it’s best to let your team work in pairs so that one person can count the inventory while the other can note the values in the counting tag and stick it near the inventory. It’s best to get the counting tags signed by the respective team as it gives you clarity about the person associated with counting for a specific section.
  • To cross-check the accuracy of the counting, you can personally examine the areas to cross-verify the values mentioned in the counting tags. Otherwise, you can allocate members from other teams to cross-check the tag values. Cross-checking is crucial to get an accurate representation of your inventory. In case your inventory is also stored at other locations, you should coordinate to get the accurate values from those locations as well.
  • Performing inventory counts using manual sheets and counting tags can be time-consuming and prone to human errors. Using an inventory management software like Cin7 can be of great help. Instead of using tags and sheets, you can use barcode scanners to scan the inventories on the shelves. The software reconciles the inventory values with the ones already present in the system. This way, you can easily gauge the discrepancies in the inventory that’s physically present with you.

 

Why do year-end inventory count?

The year-end inventory count is essential because it ensures the stock you have on your shelves matches your records. By getting an exact look at your inventory, you can comply with tax requirements, manage corporate audits, and offer accurate data to your accounting team.

Once you complete your inventory count, you’ll have the data you need to complete an annual financial analysis. You also get the data you need to detect inventory shrinkage and forecast how much inventory you’ll need in the year ahead. On top of that, you get the chance to get inventory organized for the new year.

Knowing your year-end inventory allows you to

  • Get a better understanding of what products you have.
  • Hold accurate inventory records for accounting purposes.
  • Gain insight into products that don’t sell well that you shouldn’t order in the future.
  • Understand which products require a new selling strategy.
  • Know the demand and profitability for expansion consideration.
  • Consider adjusting periodic automatic replenishment (PAR) levels for top-selling products.
  • Determine the cost of goods sold and total net income.
  • Make business decisions based on data instead of intuition.
  • Analyze pricing strategy and identify room for improvement.

 

Does your business have inventory shrinkage?

Inventory shrinkage occurs when there’s less physical inventory than what’s listed in your inventory records. Shrinkage occurs due to human error, damaged stock, vendor shortages, lost inventory, or stolen inventory. It can drastically affect profits and is a problem that always needs to be investigated further. Businesses usually uncover inventory shrinkage as they do their year-end inventory counts.

How to handle inventory shrinkage

If you uncover inventory shrinkage during your year-end inventory count, your team should look for more information about what happened. If you are using inventory management software, you can examine past inventory records to determine if there are any trends that need investigation. Significant, widespread shrinkage can indicate theft or fraud, while one-off mistakes tend to reveal clerical errors. Damaged goods are self-explanatory.

Once you uncover and investigate the cause of inventory shrinkage, you can put guardrails on processes to prevent further loss. Some common preventive measures include:

  • Tightening security where inventory is stored.
  • Installing cameras or locking up high-value items.
  • Training employees about proper inventory counting.
  • Allowing only trained employees to accept and inspect new inventory.
  • Reviewing daily transactions on inventory apps.
  • Verifying purchase orders, invoices, and delivery slips when new inventory arrives.
  • Checking inventory shrinkage via cycle counts.

Discovering inventory shrinkage isn’t fun — but it’s a wake-up call for many businesses.

 

What if you have too much inventory?

Once you complete your year-end inventory, you might realize that you have more physical inventory than expected. If you have a lot more inventory than you need or want, you may have to figure out how to deal with the surplus. The first step is to determine if the excess inventory is still good to sell. Then you can adjust plans, orders, and budgets accordingly.

Once you figure out what your business needs for the year ahead, it’s time to get creative. What kind of promotions or sales can you have? What items should be sold at a discount? There may also be items in your inventory that can be repurposed or donated. If you donate excess inventory, talk to your accountant about writing them off for tax purposes.

Finally, you should talk with a liquidator about buying excess inventory. It may not be very profitable, but you can cut losses, clear up space, and move on.

 

Using year-end inventory to predict next year’s demand

One of the best reasons for conducting year-end inventory counts is to understand how your business used (or didn’t use) items over the past 12 months. A detailed snapshot of available inventory helps your business forecast demand for the year ahead.

By reviewing what hasn’t sold, you can plan sales, promotions, and marketing campaigns. These strategies can help you move old inventory and lets you focus on restocking only what your customers want.

 

Cin7’s inventory management software simplifies inventory counts

Cin7 inventory management software allows your business to track inventory using modern technology and powerful automation features. Cin7 is the best choice for inventory management software because it helps save you time, money, and stress. When you switch to Cin7, you’ll be able to:

  • Access your data at any time and place.
  • Set it up quickly, easily, and to your liking.
  • Use ready-to-scan barcodes with your phone’s camera.
  • Customize and allow access to teams, vendors, and suppliers.
  • Generate custom barcodes for unlabeled stock.
  • Create data-rich, shareable reports to help you understand inventory.
  • Get alerts when you’re running low on a product, if it’s expiring, or approaching warranty.
  • Create product histories to answer who, what, and when details.

Ready to see how our inventory software makes your year-end inventory count easier? Book your Demo now.

Effective inventory management: The secret to Black Friday success

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday traditionally kick off the holiday shopping season. Large and small businesses often prepare for months to capitalize on shoppers looking for deals on these days.

Any glitches, such as not having enough inventory or problems with shipping and delivery, can lead to substantial reductions in profit.

Automated inventory management can ensure the entire sales cycle is managed well throughout the holiday shopping season. And the bonus? When customers have a good experience, they become returning customers.

This blog discusses how a seamless supply chain impacts online merchants and suggests inventory management tips for your upcoming holiday season.

 

Inventory management and supply chain for online merchants

In retail, the supply chain is defined as the process from order inventory to product delivery. Supply chain management consists of manufacturing, fulfillment, storage, and shipping. If any part of the process weakens, sales are negatively affected.

Merchants selling products online must plan for issues that could come up this holiday season.

 

Tips to manage your supply chain and inventory this holiday season

Choose the best suppliers

Online merchants usually work with international suppliers as a cost-saving measure. It’s better to work with domestic suppliers as you can:

  • Prevent customs delays and cross-border shipping.
  • Avoid unexpected new tariffs.
  • Replenish stock quickly and easily.

If you still work with international suppliers for your business, diversify your suppliers. By ordering from suppliers in several countries, you have a backup if there are problems with delivery from one country.

Plan the fulfillment process

If you are a merchant with a large volume of inventory, you can send it directly to a third-party logistics (3PL) provider. The 3PL company can handle fulfillment and shipping on your behalf and let you focus on what you do best: ecommerce strategy and marketing.

You must think carefully while choosing warehouses whether or not you work with a 3PL service. Use a warehouse close to the suppliers and begin ordering inventory early. By planning ahead with time, you will give the warehouse staff enough margin to organize and categorize the products correctly.

Merchants with unused brick-and-mortar stores should consider using the space as a warehouse. Using your own space as a warehouse gives you an excellent visual idea of how quickly your stock sells. It helps you decide which products to push with holiday sales. Thus, you can save money on external services and have more control over stock management.

Another popular holiday season shopping method is buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS). This method became popular during the Covid-19 pandemic. These click and collect options remove complications related to shipping and let you enhance the customer service you can offer. If you look to implement store pick up this season, ensure your customers know how it works by including instructions on your site’s checkout page.

Talk to supply chain partners early

Your partners in the supply chain are your suppliers and manufacturers. You all must work and succeed together, so take the time to discuss order volume and develop a process that works for everyone.

Contact your suppliers as soon as possible to work out potential issues in the supply chain. The earlier you begin, the more you can anticipate and head off any problems. When discussing the order volume of the inventory, be specific and tell suppliers exactly how much you expect. If they flag any potential holiday supply issues, adjust the product range or diversity accordingly.

Keep in touch with 3PL companies regularly for likely changes as well. They could have staff shortages or a lack of drivers, delivery restrictions, or warehouse closures. Integrated warehouse management software can help you head off fulfillment issues.

Price your products strategically

After deciding on inventory value, vary product prices to control stock levels. Lowering the rates of well-stocked products means you can sell more. Raising the prices of items you have less of may reduce the number you sell.

Adjusting prices is all about finding the sweet spot to meet your inventory goals while maintaining your brand image. The rule of thumb is to keep pricing consistent. Making your products too cheap or too expensive can confuse the customers.

If you look to position yourself as a luxury brand, increase the prices and do a cost-benefit analysis to see what is more beneficial for your company. Lower prices on the products can shift more inventory, but higher prices return better profits and prevent you from running out of stock quickly.

One alternative to amending the products’ prices is to give discount coupons. You can shift the discounts to emphasize different products across your holiday sales season based on inventory levels.

 

Conclusion

Black Friday and other holiday sales events are so much more than placing a few ads and expecting high sales volumes. From a business perspective, they’re more about effective inventory management and best fulfillment practices.

Optimizing warehouse operations for accuracy and speed should be a top priority for any business during the holiday season.

That’s what Cin7 inventory management software is all about.

If your business sells hundreds or thousands of products towards the end of the year, you need an inventory management software with forecasting tools from a reputed company like Cin7. The Cin7 team will be more than happy to help you with your inventory management solution decisions.

Book your demo today!

Top 10 technologies driving ecommerce growth in 2022

New technologies continue to drive innovation in the ecommerce world. How is your site keeping up? Check out our predictions for the top 10 technologies that will drive ecommerce growth in 2022.

 

1. Voice and image search

Increasingly, consumers are using their voice and images to search online. As a result, businesses that want search bots to find them should incorporate text that mimics spoken questions into their sites along with high quality images.

 

2. AI chatbots

AI chatbots may be the future for the ecommerce industry. Their sophisticated programming allows the AI chatbot to respond to customers as if the chatbot were a real human being.

Unlike rule-based chatbots, AI chatbots are constantly learning from their conversations and can develop unscripted responses to queries. They are designed to read tone and emotion as well as help customers get the best recommendations for the products and services they are seeking.

 

3. Smarter mobile shopping tools

Brick-and-mortar retailers do not like seeing customers looking at their phone screens, for it indicates that the customer is price shopping or using their store as a showroom for a later online purchase elsewhere.

Therefore, savvy retailers offer their own GPS-enabled mobile shopping experiences to help customers buy in-store or anywhere else. For any retailer, a mobile-optimized site and store is a fundamental element of a positive ecommerce experience.

 

4. Omnichannel presence and support

The term omnichannel refers to the integration of multiple channels for ecommerce, such as an online storefront, website, or social media page. When you offer omnichannel support, your customers can enter information in one channel, and you can access it in another, providing a more seamless customer experience across channels.

 

5. Fast and secure e-wallet functionality

Speedy and secure e-wallet technology allows customers to store all of their payment information digitally in one place. This increases efficiency when shopping online because instead of having to enter information for each purchase, customers can check out of a site with just one or two clicks of a button.

Businesses equipped to accept e-wallet payments can level themselves up in the ecommerce market with better scalability of services and reciprocal security to attract even more customers.

 

6. Metaverse and other gaming platforms to facilitate sales

The concept of the Metaverse is still evolving, and it isn’t ready as an advertising platform. However, it represents a potent potential marketing channel for various ecommerce brands. Global brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, Vans, and Gucci are already gearing up to treat their customers with virtual products.

Various gaming systems have also opened their platforms to ecommerce brands. For instance, leading fashion brand Balenciaga recently teamed up with Epic Games to launch its Fortnight clothing line. Nike turned to Roblox to launch Nikeland for purchasing virtual Nike gear for the gaming avatars.

 

7. Livestream commerce

Remember TV shopping channels? Livestream commerce or Livestream shopping is almost like that. It is a video streamed on a commercial platform where the host shows viewers various goods in real-time. Thus, the audience can easily buy products directly from the shopping site.

This type of ecommerce is very popular in China. For instance, in 2020, during the Global Shopping Festival on the Taobao platform, live broadcast generated sales of about $6 billion. Companies in the US have also noticed a tendency toward this upgraded version of ‘shoptainment.’

This approach to online retail lets you present items in every dynamic and develop client interest by creating urgency with limited-quantity or limited-time offers.

 

8. Headless and API-driven ecommerce

Headless commerce is a solution that lets an online store’s ecommerce platform de-couple from the front-end presentation layer. More ecommerce businesses have adopted headless technology due to its flexibility on the backend, added SEO and digital experience capabilities, and content marketing.

 

9. Progressive web apps

The progressive web app is a technology that lets you create web applications that look like native mobile apps. While building these solutions, developers use web technologies like JavaScript, CSS, and HTML.

Retail giants like Walmart and Alibaba have used PWA to generate more revenue and increase conversion rates. Progressive web apps are perfectly suitable for any small and medium-sized organization.

PWA’s primary functions include:

  • Offline application access
  • Application access via the smartphone’s home screen
  • Push notifications

 

10. Cin7 inventory management

Popular brands know that the bigger your business, the more crucial it is to have a scalable infrastructure. Cin7’s flexible, future-proofed and hyper-scalable inventory management software is purposely built for retail businesses.

It offers various integrations with a speedy, expert-led implementation having a success rate of 97%.

 

Wrapping up

More innovations in ecommerce technology are likely to evolve in 2022. As you evaluate whether a new technology is worth incorporating in your business, consider magnitude, relevancy, and functionality. While some may provide a huge value, others might be out of touch with your particular customer demographic or be too costly. One technology we certainly recommend is Cin7 inventory management software.

Cin7 inventory management software makes all your business operations, like purchasing, selling, warehousing, accounting, and shipping, hassle-free and virtually effortless in order for you and your management team to focus more on other aspects of your business.

Book your demo now!

5 things to look for in a retail point-of-sale (POS) system

Customers expect to make purchases quickly and easily. An efficient point-of-sale (POS) system lets you provide multiple options to your customers to make their shopping experience seamless.

What makes a good POS system?

#1 Wide choice of payment options

From credit and debit cards to buy now, pay later (BNPL), as well as wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, there are many easy payment options for customers today.

Your POS system should provide a range of payment options so customers can conveniently pay in the manner that best suits them. The benefit for you is that if you give customers the freedom to pay by the method of their choosing, they tend to shop more frequently and buy more.

 

#2 Omnichannel integration and management

Customers interact with your products through multiple channels, such as websites, social media, and mobile apps. A POS system that integrates these channels and provides omnichannel support creates a unified experience for the customer. Providing omnichannel support means you can handle orders coming from multiple channels, devices and platforms.

 

#3 Mobility

If the customer doesn’t come to you, go to the customer. Mobility is one of the most important features of a POS system, as it enables you to take payments on-the-go.

The best example of a mobile POS can be seen at some restaurants today that have quick response (QR) codes right at the table. Customers can view the menu, order food and even pay the bill by simply scanning the code with their smartphone. It provides a quick and easy experience for customers, as they don’t have to wait in line to pay the bill.

All of this is possible if your POS system is capable of handling mobility.

 

#4 Third-party software integrations

Third-party integrations give you access to a wide range of services from within your POS system. If your POS system offers integrations with all the major third-party software, you can easily share data across all the platforms and don’t have to go through the hassles of manual updates.

Services such as customer relationship management (CMR) and a human resource management system (HRMS), when integrated into your POS system, become an incredibly powerful tool. They can manage customer experience data, run loyalty programs and even monitor individual personnel performance from the POS system.

 

#5 Promotions and discounts

Nothing hypes a product like a steep discount. Customers absolutely love a deal, and running promotions is a sure way to sell more products.

As you set out to create appealing offers for your loyal customers, your POS system should help you by telling you which product is selling less, so you can create a promotion.

A POS system should also let you create a variety of promotions on the desired item(s) by creating bundles. When you create a bundle (such as a “Buy Two, Get One” offer on socks), the POS system should be able to sell it seamlessly.

Sales will be reflected in the inventory count immediately and help you keep track of how your promotion is faring.

Cin7 POS for your retail business

If you’re looking for a robust POS system for your business, look no further than Cin7. Our solution has all the POS functionalities required to streamline product sales. Additionally,  Cin7’s POS system automatically updates inventory levels in real time.

Cin7’s POS is designed for omnichannel sales. It allows you to transfer orders to other locations as well as ship directly from the store.

Book a demo with Cin7 to learn how we can help you deliver a stellar retail experience.

4 Inventory accounting methods for inventory valuation

What do manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers have in common? They all deal with inventory. Whether you’re a manufacturer or a reseller, you need to account for your inventory accurately. With proper inventory accounting, you can better understand your expenses and identify ways to cut costs and maximize your profits.

 

What is inventory accounting?

Inventory accounting determines how an organization shows inventory in its balance sheet and profit and loss statements. Your inventory is treated as an asset because it can be used to generate revenue. The valuation of your inventory assets depends on how you assign costs to your inventory. It’s extremely important to correctly value your inventory because its value affects your business’s overall profitability.

 

Understanding cost of goods sold (COGS)

The cost of goods sold is the cost that a business incurs to make or acquire the products that it sells. COGS includes everything from materials used to labor cost. However, it only includes costs that are directly related to the production process. Thus, shipping and marketing costs aren’t included in COGS. Knowing your COGS helps you understand how much you are spending to produce your product, and it directly impacts your profitability.

The formula you use for COGS depends on whether you are a manufacturer or reseller. For a reseller, the formula is

Beginning inventory + Purchases – Ending Inventory = Cost of Goods Sold

For example, at the beginning of the financial year, your inventory is valued at $4,000. Throughout the year, you purchase inventory valued at $3,500, and at the end of the year, your inventory value is $2000.

The cost of goods sold is $4,000 + $3,500 – $2,000 = $5,500.

COGS can be calculated weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. The value of COGS is partially determined by how you determine your ending inventory.

 

Understanding ending inventory valuation

It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to sell all your inventory by the end of the accounting period. However, unsold inventory isn’t a liability because it can be sold next year. Therefore, remaining inventory, or “ending inventory” is treated as an asset in your financial statements. In fact, ending inventory becomes “beginning inventory” for the next accounting period.

There are four commonly used inventory valuation methods:

  1. First in, first out (FIFO),
  2. Last in, first out (LIFO),
  3. Weighted average cost method, and
  4. Specific identification method.

Method #1: First in, first out (FIFO)

The premise of the FIFO method is you value your inventory as if the stock you acquired first were sold first. For example, imagine you purchase 100 bottles of product in January for $10 per bottle. Then in February, you purchase 200 bottles of product for $20 per bottle. You would have 300 bottles of product in your inventory, and the value would be $1,000 + $4,000 = $5,000.

Then imagine you sold 50 bottles of product in March. What would the value of your inventory be? Using FIFO, you would say that the 50 bottles you sold were part of the 100 bottles you purchased in January. Thus, you would value the inventory sold at $500, meaning the value of your ending inventory would be $4,500.

Method #2: Last in, first out (LIFO)

In contrast to the FIFO method, the LIFO method means you assume the most recently acquired products are sold first.

Using the same example of the bottles, let’s say that in March, you still sold 50 bottles. However, with LIFO, you assume that those 50 bottles were part of the 200 bottles you purchased in February for $20 each. Thus, the 50 bottles you sold would be valued at $1,000, and your ending inventory would be $4,000.

Method #3: Weighted average cost

The weighted average cost method is best to use when your product units are indistinguishable from each other or challenging to track individually – for example, gasoline. Using the weighted average cost method, businesses assign a value to inventory based on the average cost of production of the product.

Here’s the way to calculate it:

Weighted Average Cost = Total Cost of Inventory / Total Inventory Units.

For example, you purchase 10 bottles at $20 each, and an additional 10 bottles at $30 each.

  • Ten bottles at $20 each = $200.
  • Ten bottles at $30 each = $300.
  • Total bottle units = 20 bottles (10 + 10).
  • Total cost of bottles = $500 ($200 + $300).

The weighted average cost is $500 / 20 = $25. When you sell 10 bottles you will value the sale at $250 ($10 x $25). Your ending inventory of 10 bottles will also be valued  at $250 (10 bottles x $25).

Method #4: Specific identification

The specific identification method is primarily used for large items that can be easily identified because they are unique. In this method, each unit and its cost is tracked individually. Each item is assigned a specific identifier, such as can be done using radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. The advantage of this system is that you have a highly accurate accounting of your inventory. The disadvantage is that the method has limited uses because few businesses sell highly unique products that can be easily tracked.

Inventory accounting is crucial for businesses

Inventory accounting is vital for both manufacturers and retailers. Businesses should carefully consider their inventory valuation method and identify the best option up front, as it can be challenging to change in the future.

Inventory management software makes a huge difference and helps track and value your inventory. With real-time insights about inventory movement, orders received, and revenue generated, your business will be able to make smarter, more data-driven decisions. You’ll also be able to generate inventory performance reports and analyze your business in real time.

If you’re looking for software to track and manage your inventory, book a call with Cin7 today. We’ll assess your inventory needs and partner with you to find a perfect solution.

5 metrics for managing your inventory

Warehouse and inventory management are two of the most important aspects of running a product-based business. They involve a great deal of calculated decision-making on the part of the warehouse manager, and handled well, they contribute to an organized warehouse operation.

To optimize your warehouse operations, we’ve standardized some key metrics that managers around the world use to understand their inventory. This blog discusses some of these metrics and how they can be calculated.

 

Inventory carrying cost

The inventory carrying cost refers to the total cost required to maintain inventory over a given period of time. While there are many classifications of inventory costs, such as receiving cost, storage cost, and packing cost, carrying cost is important because it tells you how much it costs to keep your inventory at desired levels.

How to calculate carrying cost percentage:

Carrying Cost (%) = Inventory Holding Sum / Total Value of Inventory x 100

Here, inventory holding sum comprises four components of carrying cost. They are:

  • Service cost,
  • Risk cost,
  • Capital cost, and
  • Storage cost.

The formula to calculate the holding sum is as follows:

Inventory Holding Sum = Inventory Service Cost + Inventory Risk Cost + Capital Cost + Storage Cost

You’ll want to keep the carrying cost percentage as low as possible. The higher the percentage, the smaller the profit margins and greater the chance of a fiscal burden.

 

Rate of return

Returned products cost time and money to process. Understanding why products are returned can help you solve issues early. The Rate of Return (RoR) is the metric that helps you understand how many products you deliver are returned.  The formula to calculate the RoR is

Products Returned / Total Products Delivered = Rate of Return

The RoR can be calculated for subcategories of your product so you can begin to understand not only what is returned but why. For instance, you might respond differently to the return of a defective product than to one that was incorrectly delivered.

Click here to read more about how to keep your products flowing smoothly in and out of your warehouse.

 

Inventory turnover

Inventory turnover is the speed with which you sell and replace all of your inventory. This is important to track because you need to have enough product on hand to meet demand, but you don’t want so much inventory that all of your money is tied up in a product that might not sell.

The formula for calculating inventory turnover is

Cost of Goods Sold / Average Inventory = Inventory Turnover

When you have a high inventory turnover, you have a small amount of inventory on hand at a given time. A low inventory turnover means you are keeping product in your warehouse.

 

Days in inventory

Along with inventory turnover, the days in inventory metric helps you determine how fast your inventory is replaced. Days in inventory tells you the average number of days that you have your products on the shelf.

The formula for days in inventory is

365 days

_______________  = Days in Inventory

Inventory Turnover

More efficient warehouse management systems will keep products for fewer days.

 

Orders picked per hour (picking productivity)

Orders picked per hour is a simple but extremely important metric for inventory management. It gives you insights into the hourly productivity levels of your inventory personnel and helps you make data-driven decisions.

Based on the results obtained for various shifts, you can determine how to boost efficiency in your warehouse. For example, you might make changes in team management or overall organizational structure.

Another great use of this metric is that it allows you to calculate the impact of introducing a new technology or picking technique. By recording the productivity before and after the introduction, you can determine how effective the change has been.

 

Cin7 solutions for calculating metrics

Calculating these metrics manually could be a daunting task. This is especially true if you have a small or medium-sized business.

By investing in inventory management software, you can leverage technology as you grow your business. Book an appointment today with Cin7 to revolutionize your warehouse and inventory management.

5 Common invoicing mistakes businesses make & how to avoid them

Retail and wholesale-based businesses need to realize as many efficiencies as possible to survive in the marketplace. Today, success is dependent upon modern tech stacks with cloud-based software that best suits inventory-centric operations.

The adoption of cloud-based software has helped product sellers succeed in an industry that has been disrupted by COVID-19 and global conflict. By taking full advantage of the move to the cloud, thriving businesses are enabling their remote workforces, automating the increasing demands of digital commerce, and protecting their intellectual property with the latest in web security.

 

Avoid paying interest on cash borrowed from business credit lines to bolster cash flow

Few aspects of business are more critical than timely and accurate accounts receivable. Meticulous invoicing keeps cash flowing into the business. Leaving such a crucial function to error-prone, manual processes is a mistake that small businesses can no longer afford. And the process doesn’t end at sending invoices to customers. Accurate, real time data supports follow-up on receivables – also key to maintaining cash flow.

When it comes to invoicing, errors and delays lead to lost revenue so it is vital to understand what mistakes businesses often make and how to avoid them. We preface the following tips by generally advising that by adopting cloud-based accounting software from a respected vendor that is custom integrated with an inventory control platform ensures all financial data is managed on an accurate and timely basis. Here’s a comprehensive list of common invoicing mistakes businesses make and the solutions to ensure you can prevent repeating them.

1. Sporadic invoicing

When businesses send invoices to customers inconsistently, it’s easy to fall behind. Invoicing on different dates each month can also lead to receivable delays. This mistake is likely to occur because some businesses only invoice on specific days of the week.

This can be an issue for customers as well. Customers have difficulty planning their cash flow because they have no idea when to expect an invoice. Random invoicing results in delayed payments causing receivables to age beyond 30 days. To rectify this, select specific dates every month on the calendar to regularly send invoices. The best solution is to automate the process with invoicing software. Customers will be well aware and have enough time to arrange the payment.

2. Timely collections

Simply sending invoices doesn’t complete the job. It is essential to follow up with customers who haven’t made payments within agreed credit terms. Organization is key to success here and failing at collections hinders growth and long-term viability.

Once an invoice is sent, it is recommended to set a reminder to follow up on debts. When the time comes, a persuasive email that urges customers to take action immediately can be effective. Best practices encourage the use of accounting software that helps manage receivables and sends reminders of past due invoices.

3. Unclear terms of payment

Always clearly specify Terms and Conditions regarding payment terms. This should include details about late fees, pricing, and other details about products and services. State all payment policies on invoices so that customers aren’t confused and can make payments on time.

Be as specific as possible. For example, a customer may wonder if “net 15 days” excludes weekend days or not. Instead, specifying “net 15 business days” will offer clarity.

4. Lack of company branding

Company branding is an invoice element that can have an impact. Undoubtedly, branding is crucial for every facet of business, and invoicing is no exception. Including branding on invoices means customers can easily identify who the invoice is from.

Moreover, using a company logo and clear branding on invoices ensures that customers can easily spot invoices from your business. Each branding opportunity can help improve awareness in the marketplace. Leveraging the benefits of invoicing software like QuickBooks Online offers custom invoice templates and the ability to add branding elements.

5. Inconsistent back-ups

Invoice data is an important part of an overall back-up plan. Depending upon location, a business may be legally obliged to archive invoice data for a specified period of years. Furthermore, an ability to provide customers with archival invoice data upon request demonstrates that their account is being managed properly.

Every invoice sent should be backed up either as a physical copy or a digital one. Keeping a paper copy is not highly recommended as it is prone to be misplaced or damaged. Backing data up using a cloud storage service or adopting cloud-based accounting software are both compliant solutions.

 

Wrapping up

Accurate and timely invoicing is critical for long-term success and growth.

In this article, we have covered some of the most common invoicing mistakes and how they can hamper receipt of payments. If a business is reaching the point where it can no longer afford to rely solely on error-prone, manual data entry to manage invoicing, or relying upon legacy invoicing software, we suggest upgrading tech stacks to modern, cloud-based solutions.

Intuit and DEAR Systems have recently partnered to offer an Advanced Plan bundle that includes a subscription to both QuickBooks Online and DEAR Systems inventory and order management beginning at $375 per month. This offers the perfect opportunity for growing product sellers to easily enjoy the very latest cloud-based solutions to manage cash flow, inventory, and order fulfillment.

How to perfectly execute the 2022 holiday shipping season

It’s no secret that the holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for shipping and retail industries. In fact, It’s the most important time of the year for direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands. With increases in technology, ecommerce has become the driving force behind the yearly surge in sales. Shoppers spent $122 billion with online retailers alone in the past year. To keep up with the surge in demand in a short span of time, you need to have a streamlined shipping strategy and fulfillment process in place for the holidays.

These days, customers have high expectations when shopping online. They want free and fast shipping, free returns, and share-worthy unboxing moments. Businesses that are able to keep up logistically both bring in more customers and retain them better.

In this article, we will go through common challenges that DTC brands face during the holiday shipping season, and how you can streamline your shipping process for your online store’s success.

 

What is considered the holiday shipping season?

The holiday shipping season refers to the time of the year (Q4, or October through December) when order and shipment volume spikes, leading to more orders to fulfill and more returns to process. The holiday shopping season includes Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and general gift-giving that leads into Christmas.

In this period, supply chain management can get disrupted as online brands rush to keep up with demand, manage inventory, and fulfill a massive amount of orders. Shipping carriers get busier than usual and work harder to deliver packages on time.

 

When does the holiday shipping season start?

The holiday shipping season starts earlier than many people think. The shipping industry and eCommerce sales ramp up as early as October, and high demand continues until the new year. Here is an overview of major milestones and holidays that occur during the holiday shipping season.

Halloween (October 31)

Even if it’s an American holiday, Halloween is popular among consumers in Europe, too. Whether you’re selling “spooky” decorations, costumes, or other items, sales opportunities increase during this time. Many brands will try to capitalize on the holiday by running special promotions.

Thanksgiving (November 24)

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season. You have Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday all occurring over the same long weekend. That’s when holiday shoppers begin to search for the best deals and try to purchase their holiday gifts early.

Christmas (December 25)

Holiday shoppers expect to get gifts delivered before Christmas Day (or even Christmas Eve). You must take note of your carriers’ holiday cutoff dates and communicate those with customers. They want to know when they’ll have to place orders for on-time delivery.

New Year’s Day (January 1)

Although the holiday shopping season starts to slow down by this time, return volume is at an all-time high around January 1. This often requires more from customer service and logistics operations teams for smooth returns and exchanges.

Other important dates

  • Black Friday: November 25,
  • Small Business Saturday: November 26,
  • Cyber Monday: November 28,
  • Free Shipping Day*: December 14,
  • Super Saturday**: December 17.

*Participating merchants provide free shipping on all orders, with promised delivery by Christmas Eve.

**The last Saturday before Christmas is a huge shopping day for brick-and-mortar retailers.

 

Common challenges during holiday shipping season

Expected or unexpected, whenever there’s a major change in the supply chain, it can throw off inventory management, shipping, and more. That’s why it’s essential to find ways to build supply chain resilience and ensure a successful holiday shipping season — even if there are delays and disruptions. To prepare your supply chain for Q4, here are a few holiday shipping season challenges to be aware of.

Black Friday sales

One of the biggest challenges to growing eCommerce businesses is managing an increase in order volume. Obviously, this is most apparent during the holidays. Black Friday sales add even more chaos to the mix.

Partnering with the right 3PL can take fulfillment challenges off your plate and put it into the hands of experts (even if the volume increases by 1,200% in a couple of weeks). This is a great way to avoid making common holiday season mistakes.

If you decide to keep fulfillment in-house, you must prepare to hire more packers (and be ready to ask family and friends to step in as required). You should also plan your holidays around running promotions and fulfilling orders on time.

Supplier holidays and factory shutdowns

Many brands partner with multiple suppliers and manufacturers to ensure they are not at risk if a primary supplier can’t deliver during shortages or shutdowns. Whether it’s a planned shutdown like Chinese New Year, or an unplanned one like what happened during the pandemic, manufacturers can go through shutdowns at any time.

Unfortunately, this means that receiving and replenishing inventory can be significantly delayed or disrupted — which could affect your entire eCommerce supply chain. As part of your business contingency or continuity plan, partnering with various suppliers can help reduce the risk of the inventory shortage. You can even get ahead by ordering surplus inventory. This helps avoid stockouts and gives you some wiggle room for the holiday shipping season.

Inexperienced 3PLs

If you want to partner with a 3PL, make sure they have the expertise, technology, and experience to deal with the increased volume that comes with the holiday shipping season. The wrong 3PL partner can cause major disruptions in your fulfillment process and lead to mispicks, slower deliveries, and inaccurate inventory levels.

The right 3PL, on the other hand, will always offer visibility and transparency into the supply chain. That includes real-time inventory data, information on shipping and fulfillment performance, and much more.

 

How to perfectly execute the holiday shipping season

If you are curious about how you can perfect your shipping strategy during the holidays, here are a few things to try.

Break the shipping process down into smaller steps

How long does it take you to fulfill an order? If you can get accurate data on each element, you’ll be able to better answer this question. You can break things down into the following:

  • Time to pack a product,
  • Time to take out the packaging material,
  • Time to collect all items in one place,
  • Time to print shipping labels.

Once you know where every second of your time is going, you can streamline some of the processes and add some minutes back to your day. Small changes can lead to big improvements in efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Communicate effectively

Effective communication with customers is a huge part of your relationship with them. As you ship orders you should make sure they receive updates, shipping times, delivery notifications, and more. This practice keeps customers in the loop and makes them feel as though they know what’s going on with their shipment.

Give your customers multiple payment options

Allowing your customers to pay in multiple ways gives you an edge and provides your customers with the flexibility they want. Since many customers use wallet payment options, accepting payment via wallets can simplify your customers’ shopping experience.

Save time with labels

Did you know you can save a significant amount of time by printing shipping labels in bulk? You can also integrate orders with Cin7 to print your labels in seconds.

Keep an eye on your supply

Each seller predicts how many sales they will make during a holiday season. Suppose you offer 50% off on apparel. You’ll need to make sure you have adequate stock lined up to cater to urgent requirements. Print labels in advance and stock your supplies for shipping. Most importantly, make sure you don’t get stopped midway during the peak season. Purchasing supplies in bulk quantities saves you the cost and headache that comes with last minute sourcing and production.

Display a shipping rate calculator

If you don’t offer free shipping, you should provide your customers the exact cost they’ll pay while ordering any given product. You can do this by offering a shipping rate calculator. This is usually based on factors like the customer’s delivery location and is a very important part of the checkout process. In fact, 44% of customers abandon carts due to high shipping costs.

Set a free shipping threshold

Many eCommerce sellers offer free shipping during the holiday season. This can help increase sales, but it can also burden you with higher shipping costs. Instead, try the following:

  • Set a threshold order value before providing free shipping.
  • Set a countdown for free shipping.
  • Send coupon codes for free shipping.

Setting a threshold on orders may help increase your average order value and encourage customers to buy items they might not have previously. Plus, opting for lower-cost regional couriers might be a smart option, too.

Offer international shipping

Scaling your business to ship internationally could be an excellent opportunity for sellers during peak season. Even if you haven’t shipped internationally before, there is no reason why you should not ship internationally this holiday season.

Seasonal peaks are an excellent opportunity to expand your options — especially when audiences look forward to shopping outside their borders for holidays. There are many low-cost global shipping options from Cin7, so you can quickly ship with premium carriers like FedEx, Aramex, and DHL.

Partner with an experienced 3PL

Partnering with an experienced 3PL company can help make the chaotic holiday season more manageable, especially for businesses that are:

  • Transitioning fulfillment from in-house to third party,
  • Preparing to launch a new brand,
  • Looking for new inventory management options or a hybrid approach.

Fulfilling holiday demands by your own can be challenging, and leasing a warehouse can be time-consuming and expensive. The sooner you start with a 3PL, the easier the process becomes. Cin7 can help you get onboarded quickly to start preparing for the busy holiday season that’s right around the corner!

 

Conclusion

One of the best ways to improve customer satisfaction during the holiday season is by making sure your shipping is quick, organized, and transparent. If you want to build your brand, stand out from your competition, and win repeated business — shipping times is a great place to start. Cin7 can help you manage your supply chain and help you reach your goals. Our inventory management software makes the process easy, painless, and profitable. Book a demo now to get started today.

Cost of goods sold and how to calculate it

Cost Of Goods Sold (COGS) is a common accounting term or simply called COGS when you meet with your accountant or at a corporate meeting.

If you’ve ever wondered what it is and why it is so important then this article is for you.

Let’s first understand the term cost of goods sold.

 

What is the cost of goods sold?

COGS is the value of the inventory that has been sold by a business.

It is only recognized upon sale of inventory and is reported in the financial period in which those sales occur.

The value of inventory is the total of the direct cost of the products making up that inventory, which has either been produced or purchased by a company for resale. It includes additional charges directly related to preparing products ready for sale, like packaging and delivery charges. However, it excludes indirect expenses such as sales & marketing.

Therefore, COGS equal the direct cost related to the production of or purchase of products sold.

Keep in mind that the value of inventory on hand is considered an asset until the inventory is sold.

 

Why is it important to calculate the cost of COGS?

The primary motive of starting any business is to earn a profit. A business can ensure that it earns a profit by knowing the exact income and expenses incurred to sell its products.

COGS inform a business about all the direct expenditures incurred in getting products ready for sale. Therefore, COGS are an important part of the business decision making process.

Here are some of the benefits of calculating COGS:

1.   Helps create a pricing strategy

Firstly, your selling price can be determined by knowing the total direct costs you have incurred in producing or procuring products. Once you know these costs, you will be in a better position to judge the price at which to sell products so that you can cover your indirect expenses and also earn a profit from the sale.

Knowing COGS helps you determine how much of a profit margin you can keep on the products you sell.

2.   Helps determine the total expenses incurred in selling products

Your profit and loss statement needs to list all your income and expenditures. By taking the direct costs you have spent in acquiring stock, you can arrive at the total expenses incurred by including other indirect expenses such as overhead costs like sales and marketing.

3.   Compare the market value of your product with your competitors

Determining profit margin by only considering direct costs incurred is an incomplete picture. Chances are that your prices may be higher than your competitors in the market. In such a situation, fewer customers will purchase your products and you will incur a loss. If your prices are lower than your competitors, then you can still incur a loss since your low profit margin might not cover your indirect expenses.

COGS helps you to sell your product at a competitive price, grow sales and by extension, earn profits.

Now that you know the importance of calculating COGS, let’s learn the formula to calculate COGS.

 

How to calculate COGS

Here’s the formula to derive COGS:

COGS = Beginning Inventory + Purchases made during the period – Ending Inventory

To calculate the COGS for a reporting period, start with the value of the beginning inventory. If additional inventory was added during the reporting period, be sure to add the value of any new inventory that is produced or purchased to the value of the existing stock. Now, subtract the value of  ending inventory from COGS sold for that reporting period.

Note, that this is a basic example and does not take into account items like returns, discounts, obsolete stock, and the inventory valuation method used.

 

Example of COGS

Let’s assume that company X uses the calendar year to record their inventory. The beginning inventory value was recorded on the 1st of January and the ending inventory value was recorded on 31st of December.

The beginning inventory value was $20,000. During the year, the retailer realized that the business would sell more than the inventory received earlier in the year, so additional inventory worth $7,000. was purchased. At the end of the calendar year, the ending inventory value was worth $4,000.

Now, let’s work out the COGS for the entire year by using the formula.

COGS = Beginning Inventory + Purchases made during the period – Ending inventory

COGS = $20,000. + $7,000. – $4,000.

Therefore, COGS = $23,000.

The COGS equals $23,000, as calculated. Use this formula to help with production, purchasing, and pricing decisions.

Calculating COGS can also help you to calculate your profit for a reporting period and help with decisions to ensure that indirect costs are covered.

Suppose your revenue is $75,000 in a reporting period.

Knowing the COGS, your profit will be $75,000. – $23,000. = $52,000.

 

COGS – Key business takeaways

  • The COGS formula can be used at an individual product level to help with decision making prior to producing, procuring, and selling that product.
  • The COGS for a reporting period is the total of COGS for all product sales for that reporting period. It is a vital metric that is included in your financial statements and is used to calculate your gross profit for that reporting period. Gross profit is a profitability measure that shows how well a business can cover its indirect expenses and earn a profit.
  • The value of COGS will always depend on the direct costs of the products sold and the inventory valuation method used by the business.

 

Closing remarks

A cloud-based inventory and order management system that has been designed to integrate bi-directionally with your accounting software is key to keeping a close and accurate view of sales performance. Cin7 offers access to real time inventory levels and associated financials that make it easier for product sellers to feel confident that they are earning a healthy profit margin.

To learn how Cin7 can modernize your operations, book a call with one of our experts.