8 ways to get the best out of warehouse inventory management

A manufacturer’s inventory is its lifeblood, the basic ingredients for whatever is being made. When it comes to storing materials in the warehouse, there has to be enough materials on hand at all times, and they have to be in good condition. If these requirements aren’t fully met, a factory could shut down. Therefore, managing inventory in the warehouse well is incredibly important.

Warehouse inventory management is part and parcel of inventory management. Both involve overseeing and controlling stock and its levels, but whereas inventory management concerns the entire supply chain from ordering to delivering, warehouse management is about just the inventory in the warehouse. Let’s look at eight practices for streamlining inventory management in a warehouse.

 

8 practices to streamline inventory management in the warehouse

1 Have a floor plan that promotes efficiency.

The overall design of the storage facility is a critically important  factor. The layout will determine how staff and machinery maneuver the space, as well as how items are placed in, and removed from, storage. When the floor plan is a good one, inventory can be moved in, out, and around the area in a simple, free-flowing stream; when that isn’t the case, bottlenecks and errors can occur.

There are three basic designs for warehouse layouts:

  • L-shaped: Here, storage is on the long side while a loading/unloading dock is situated on the smaller adjacent side.
  • U-shaped: The ends of this shape are reserved for loading and unloading respectively, and the long curved area is used for storage.
  • I-shaped: Basically a long oblong, a loading and unloading dock is placed at one end and the rest is taken up with storage.

These three floor plans have come to be recognized as the ones that work best for warehouse design over time. This isn’t just because they’re good for flow; however, the efficiency they create is reflected in the bottom line.

2. Organize the storage space with flow in mind.

What we’re addressing here is the frequency with which items are needed, and using that measure to gauge where best to place them. You have:

  • Fast-moving items: These are the ones that are most in demand.
  • Slow-moving items: They’re used, but not very often.
  • Non-moving items: Rarely used, or no longer needed.

For the most efficient placement, fast-moving products should be placed near the front and be as easy to get to as possible, while those used but less in demand can be further back. High racks and difficult-to-access areas can be reserved for those non-moving items.

3. Track inventory accurately.

Knowing exactly what you have in storage is the core of good warehouse inventory management. While it’s relatively easy for small companies to keep on top of this, it becomes increasingly difficult for businesses as they grow. For them, technology is a necessity.

Inventory management systems (IMS) use barcodes and QR codes to track inventory. QR codes can hold much more information than barcodes. In addition to storing information about a product, QR codes know exactly where each item is stored, so they are much better for larger facilities. An inventory management software like Cin7 Omni, can maintain an accurate record of warehouse stock, letting you know exactly what’s there and tracking it as it moves in and out the storage area. This is the kind of information you need to manage the inventory on a daily basis.

4. Hire a warehouse manager you have confidence in.

The importance of the warehouse manager cannot be overstated. They don’t only oversee the pool of staff that works in the warehouse, they’re in charge of the inventory itself, making decisions every day about where to store it and when to move it. If they don’t do this in the most efficient way possible, goods can be damaged and extra costs can be incurred.

Warehouse managers should be tech-savvy. They need to be able to operate the software and handle all the automation and machinery that moves the inventory around from robots to forklifts.

5. Put a good workflow in place.

The workflow in a warehouse starts the instant inventory is brought into the building and ends the moment it leaves. It covers all the processes involved in moving the items around, including  administration. Individually, warehouse workflows depend on the design of the facility, the product, and frequency of its use. Warehouse flow is usually the province of the warehouse manager. He or she will make the decisions about how and where inventory is stored and when any of it should be moved.

A well-thought-out plan will ensure unheeded flow of the inventory and make the best use of workers’ time. Like any business plan, though, workflows should be revisited often so that updates and tweaks can be made in response to any changes.

6. Automate.

We’ve already discussed the benefits of using inventory management software to keep tabs on stock that’s in the warehouse and know at all times exactly what’s in storage. But these IMS systems can actually do much more. They can:

  • Register goods as they’re received,
  • Classify the goods,
  • Direct where the goods should be placed in warehouse,
  • Note where goods are stored and keep track of their quantity,
  • Instruct how to make the best use of the storage space,
  • Track the goods as they move around the warehouse,
  • Store and issue shipping instructions,

As mentioned, Cin7 Omni  is a good way to automate. As a complement to the functions listed here, the software will increase the speed, accuracy, and security of the inventory management process. It also reduces the employee workload, including that of the warehouse manager, leaving them free to take on other tasks.

7. Have visual oversight of the facility.

Theft, unfortunately, is a fact of life, and the possibility of it happening has to be taken into account when discussing inventory management in the warehouse. One way to stop theft is by putting up closed-circuit surveillance cameras and security systems like alarms. Letting only essential workers into the warehouse space and having them sign in and out when they report for work and go home can also be a help with this problem.

8. Carry out regular inventory audits.

Even when the inventory in your warehouse is automated, audits are necessary. In addition to checking to see that the information in your financial records tallies with the records you’re keeping on your storage space, audits are a great way to point out items you don’t need to keep any longer. These could include items that have been there for so long, they’ve gone out of style and can’t be used, or, for food, have passed their expiration dates. Apropos of #7, theft, an audit will also throw into sharp relief goods that may have “walked.”

A critical factor in warehouse inventory management, audits can be carried out internally by a member of management or externally by an outside agency. Either way, when conducted regularly they ensure that the records kept on inventory are as accurate as possible, and that, in and of itself, is a major cost saving for the company.

 

The bottom line

The way inventory is managed in the warehouse has repercussions both for the efficient handling and tracking of the stock and the bottom line of the company. We’ve laid out eight aspects of inventory management and have suggested measures that can be put in place to get the system working at its best. Hopefully, you’ll find them helpful in streamlining your system.

We think you’ll find Cin7 Omni a good tool to achieve this. To find out more about how the software can improve inventory management in your warehouse, click here to book a demo.

How to identify bottlenecks in the supply chain, and ways to prevent them from happening

Any company aims to have their operation run so smoothly and efficiently that they’ll have minimal outlay and make maximum profit. Sadly, many fall short of that goal because of holdups along their internal supply chains. These holdups create bottlenecks, jams in the system that slow the process down at the point they’re happening and have a domino effect on everything that follows.

In this blog, we’re going to look at overarching causes of these bottlenecks and put forward ways to overcome them or, better yet, ways to prevent them from happening in the first place.

 

Bottlenecks defined and how to spot them

The term literally comes from the shape of a bottle, specifically the way the top of it – the neck –  is narrower than the bottom. As this shape restricts, or slows, the flow of liquid when it’s poured out, so, in a manufacturing process, a bottleneck is where there’s an obstruction that holds everything up.

It is, of course, essential for a manager to know where these bottlenecks are occurring, to find these obstructions, and the best way of doing this is to conduct a “bottleneck analysis.” That basically involves taking a close look at every step in the supply chain, from the beginning – receiving raw materials – to the end – the final product, and everything in between.

 

Common areas where bottlenecks happen

While individual companies will have bottlenecks in their supply chains that only apply to them, there are general areas common to all that can also cause obstructions in the workflow. These areas are:

Labor

It’s important to have the right amount of employees to carry out a particular task; too many or not enough and inefficiencies creep in. It’s equally important to assign tasks to those that have the right skill set for them; again the over- or under-qualified will slow operations down.

Typically, workers fall into four categories:

  • Unskilled,
  • Skilled,
  • Highly-skilled,
  • Professional.

Making the best use of the talent each worker brings isn’t the only consideration for management when it comes to labor. Employee morale is important too. Employees who feel valued and have job satisfaction work better. This includes making sure one department isn’t favored over another. Allowing that to happen could create interdepartmental rivalry and could lead to a bad working environment for all.

Misuse of labor in any of the ways described above will affect the speed of the workflow and be the reason for bottlenecks.

Capital

Capital for a business is divided into fixed and working. The former applies to permanent assets like factories, warehouses, and equipment, while the latter refers to liquid assets, those finances needed to run the company day to day like payroll, bills, and inventory.

While having enough capital is, of course, important, it’s also essential to use the money wisely. You should invest the right amount of it in those areas where it’s most needed, and have sufficient funds on hand to keep everything flowing. It goes against your interests to put a large chunk of your capital into a larger-than-you-need, state-of-the-art warehouse when you can’t afford to fill it with inventory, even if you are doing that with future expansion in mind.

While an expert will be able to do a thorough analysis of your use of capital and highlight those areas where you may be investing too much or not enough, it’s important to keep in mind that an imbalance will create bottlenecks. Not being able to afford an extra truck when orders spike, for instance, will result in your deliveries slowing down in a major way.

Planning

Here we’re talking about working out precisely what each employee, department, and division is responsible for and letting them know that. For example, if a production department goes directly to a supplier for new stock when they’re running low, bypassing the purchasing department, there could be confusion about who’s responsible for reordering next time. The result could be a stockout that might shut the whole operation down. To avoid a scenario like that, exact planning has to be in place, meaning that everyone has to be clear on their specific area of responsibility, and everyone in the company has to be aware of it.

If there’s any kind of confusion in your company about who’s responsible for what, automation could be a big help. An inventory management system (IMS) gives a clear picture of your entire operation, and that’s information you can use to set up those planning guidelines. Once they’re in place, your operation will run seamlessly, eliminating any bottlenecks you had before in that area.

Communication

Miscommunication can lead to all sorts of problems, each of which could be a potential bottleneck. To avoid this, the right information has to be given to the right person at the right time. It’s no good giving your supplier an order if you haven’t listed all the details they need or let them know exactly where they’re supposed to deliver the items to; and you’re not going to get the results you want if one of your departments doesn’t let every other one know when they have a problem that will affect the entire supply chain. Good communication is key to everything.

To ensure good communication, everyone has to know who they report to and when to report to them, and they should be responsible enough to pass on the correct information in an easily digestible way.

Technology

While most manufacturing and sales companies are automated now, some try to save money by sticking to old technology thinking that it’s good enough and works for them. But that’s probably not the case.

An older automated system might not integrate all departments, and it probably won’t be able to “speak” to systems used by outside suppliers and contractors. These capabilities are found in newer systems, and they are a great boon to a company’s operation because they help speed everything up and create smooth processes. When you have that, you’ve gone a long way to eliminating supply chain bottlenecks, especially those that are unique to your company.

If you’re in the market to upgrade your software, check to see that it’s compatible with your existing in-house applications; it’s also a good idea to verify that the system will communicate with the software used by the outside contractors you deal with.

 

Steps to identify and prevent bottlenecks

In addition to the overarching areas that can cause the bottlenecks listed above, there are blockages that are unique to every company. While it’s up to each of these companies to identify their individual holdups and rectify them, there are some preventative steps all managers can take:

Find out where bottlenecks are occurring.

It can be difficult to locate exactly where the bottlenecks are in a large, complex operation. Examining your supply chain from different perspectives in detail may give you answers, though if you’re going to do something as complicated as that it would be easier and quicker to have an expert take a look.

A better idea is to use your supply chain management system, which can highlight those areas that are not working as efficiently as they should – those bottlenecks. If you haven’t already automated your supply chain management, you should seriously consider doing so.

Carry out data analysis.

Your data can be a good friend when identifying and overcoming bottlenecks. While any automated system you use will produce a lot of data, you can sort the data to get pertinent information about what’s happening at every part of your supply chain.

A reliable software like Cin7 Omni, will give you data that can point out trends, which is another way of uncovering bottlenecks. You can discover these trends by comparing data produced over a period of time. For instance, your data may show that a supplier is taking longer and longer to ship your orders, something that may not be a problem right away, but which could be later on. With that information, you can address it.

Map out a detailed plan.

When the company doesn’t have a detailed plan, it is often observed that all the departments follow their own agenda rather than working collectively towards a common goal. This kind of erratic behavior will lead to several bottlenecks in the supply chain. The management must consider all the options before setting out a plan. This plan should be based on historical data and future predictions. Every department should follow this plan to achieve maximum success.

Moreover, the company management must analyze and revise the plan when the circumstances change. Continuously updating the plan can prevent bottlenecks in the process.

Automate the supply chain procedures.

Automating the supply chain procedures can help eliminate the bottlenecks arising from manual management. Cin7 Omni inventory management software can not only help you to manage your inventory but also to regularize the supply chain bottlenecks. In addition, it can also seamlessly integrate with supply chain planning software like StockTrim, Streamline, Health Check, and Toolio, among others.

 

In a nutshell

Bottlenecks slow down the supply chain and affect your bottom line, so it’s important to find them and put an end to them, or at least mitigate their effects. The best way to do that is by conducting regular analysis of your processes and operations, and the simplest way of doing that is with an automated system like inventory management. More than just being the most reliable way to identify and prevent bottlenecks, automation is a great way to improve your company’s operation all round.

To learn more about Cin7 Omni’s inventory management system and how you can use it to prevent bottlenecks in your supply chain, click on the link to request a demo.

How to manage inventory for planned and unplanned plant shutdowns

Although not very often, factory shutdowns happen. Whether planned or unplanned, shutdowns cause major disruptions and financial losses, and therefore, you must understand how to deal with them.

Planned plant closures are usually for maintenance purposes. Essential to keep machinery and equipment in good working order, they usually happen once or twice a year. During these inspections, repairs may be made, worn-out parts may be replaced, and upgrades or new machinery may be introduced.

Unplanned plant closures usually result from sudden power outages and machines breaking down. An unannounced strike is another reason. A drop in demand can also be a cause. And in a worst-case scenario, a production line will close down when the facility runs out of raw material — more on that later.

Knowing that a plant will shut down at some point means you can plan for the event, and with pre planning in place, negative impacts can be mitigated. The best pre planning involves inventory control, and that’s what we’re going to examine here.

 

Managing inventory to prevent or mitigate a shutdown

Here are things you can do:

Limit inventory before a planned shutdown

When you know you’re going to have to shut your operations down, either for scheduled maintenance, upgrades, or audits, you can ease the pain by reducing the level of stock you’re holding beforehand. Keeping inventory has its own costs: A workforce has to maintain it, and capital is tied up in it. So if you make sure you only have the least amount you can get away with, literally only what you need to restart, you’ll cut down on expenses and mitigate the losses the shutdown creates.

Prepare for unplanned shutdowns by limiting inventory

A good way of mitigating the effects of an unplanned closure is to have a lean inventory management system in place. As the name implies, this system is all about getting rid of waste, unneeded excess. For inventory specifically, it’s about having only as much as is needed at any given time. The system operates on the “pull” system where inventory is “pulled in” when needed, as opposed to the “push” system that always has more stock than is needed and “pushes” it out.

Introduced by Toyota in its manufacturing unit in 1950, and later explored in the book Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation by James Womack and Daniel Jones, lean inventory management keeps stock at minimal levels, so if an unplanned shutdown happens, the company is prepared and losses can be controlled.

Lean inventory management puts stock into three categories, A, B, and C, each one based on the items’ cumulative annual consumption value. The annual consumption value is arrived at by multiplying the number of units sold in a specified time, say a year, by the cost per unit. When that’s been worked out, a company will know exactly which items have the most value for them and can organize their storage and oversight appropriately.

  • Category A:  Pricier items. Though typically making up only 20% of a company’s stock, these more expensive items usually account for 70% of items used when the annual consumption value is applied.
  • Category B: Less pricey, the items here usually account for 25% of the total annual consumption value.
  • Category C: These least pricey items account for 5% of the annual consumption value.

Inventory management software like Cin7 can easily work out annual consumption values and do the categorization for you.

Prevent shutdowns caused by stockouts

It’s possible for raw materials to run out and cause a shutdown. Maybe an error was made in counting the number in storage; maybe a supplier didn’t deliver; maybe there was an issue with the supply chain. Whatever the reason, you can make sure you’ll be able to cover for these situations by having buffer stock. Buffer stock is a little bit extra for emergencies. The amount of buffer stock a company holds has to be carefully weighed. Too much and it’ll be a drag on company outlay; too little and it might not be enough to cover your needs. An inventory management system like Cin7 can solve this conundrum.

 

Reasons for shutdowns, and best ways to plan your inventory levels

Shutdowns are caused by specific events, and in order to plan your inventory levels, you have to have a good idea which ones are more likely to happen to you. Consider the following scenarios:

  • External factors: If a shutdown is likely to happen because of bad weather, a natural disaster, government regulations, or a strike, you should have buffer stock on hand.
  • Internal factors: Here we’re talking about a power outage or machines breaking down. For machine breakdowns, spare parts should be readily available at all times. For inventory, there has to be enough available to restart production.

Cin7 can analyze your data quickly and help identify which inventory control method is best for you.

 

The final analysis

Factory shutdowns, whether planned or unplanned, cause unwanted stoppages that will affect the bottom line. When it comes to inventory, there are ways to mitigate these losses and help you ride the closures out.

Cin7 is a good way to help you figure out the best way to manage your inventory. To find out more, click here to schedule a live demo with one of our experts.

7 tips for warehouse safety

Warehouses can be hazardous. First, the items they hold are stacked high and close together to make the best use of space. Second, a lot of pickers and machinery are going back and forth between the aisles and up and down the storage bins all the time. If the items haven’t been stored properly, if a worker is careless, or if a machine malfunctions, an accident can happen.

To prevent this, there should be strong safety measures and procedures that everyone should follow, and they should be enforced. We’ve honed them down and categorized them into seven main areas.

 

7 measures to take to ensure safety in warehouses

#1 Keep all spaces clean and tidy.

Dirt, grease, or messes of any kind can be a hazard. Workers could slip on them, and machines could stumble. At the very least, if these obstacles don’t cause a bad accident, they could severely affect workflow in the warehouse.

It’s important, then, for floors and work areas to be kept as clean as possible, which means not just sweeping, but washing them frequently. Any spills should be swept or wiped up immediately; and if any of that spillage could be from harsh chemicals that are being stored, having a special spill kit that can deal with it on hand is imperative.

Hygiene is also a factor to take into account, especially when Covid is still around. Have hand sanitizer prominently placed in several areas, keep all equipment clean, and request that your employees stay home if they feel ill.

#2 Provide regular safety training.

While safety training for new employees happens frequently, it’s just as important for existing staff to review safety precautions regularly. Safety training should cover everything from ensuring work spaces and equipment are kept safe to instructions on actions to take when anything goes wrong or an unforeseen emergency happens. Providing training every three or four months is ideal. It’s also a good idea to distribute a safety manual to your workforce.

In addition to making everyone aware of safety in the warehouse, all employees should know what to do in an emergency like a fire or an earthquake. Training and drills should take place on a regular basis. It’s also important to have exit routes clearly marked and accessible at all times and to have enough of them in the building for the size of the space.

#3 Put up clear signage.

Signs that warn about potential hazards are essential. These signs should let employees know where dangerous or inflammable materials are stored, if heavy equipment is nearby, or even which items in storage are heavy. When it comes to the building itself, letting everyone know about design elements that could trip them up, like steps at the end of an aisle, is a good idea.

Since warehouses are more often than not huge spaces in which one section looks the same as another, finding your way can be a challenge in an emergency. To overcome this, there should be large signs with bold lettering that point to emergency exits.

#4 Have the right safety equipment.

Proper safety gear, like lifting belts, should be provided to ensure your employees’ well-being. Depending on the type of material your workforce has to handle or the conditions they’re working in, other forms of safety equipment, such as respirators or hearing protection, might be needed. Utility knives with protective sheathing and walkie talkies also come under this category, the latter being especially needed in ultra large warehouses.

On a wider level, fire and smoke alarms should be adequately placed, along with fire extinguishers. If your company handles hazardous materials, your fire extinguishers should be the right ones for whatever the materials are. And, of course, first aid kits should be available in easy-to-locate areas.

All safety equipment should be checked regularly.

#5 Give out protective clothing.

Here we include safety goggles, safety vests, safety gloves, hard hats and even steel-toe boots. Protective clothing should be a good fit for the individual worker. Loose clothing could get caught in machinery, and a badly fitting hard hat is no use to anyone.

#6  Ensure heavy equipment is used correctly.

Forklifts and pallet jacks could cause serious injury if not handled correctly or if someone gets in their way. Make sure heavy equipment is only operated by properly trained personnel, and that the equipment has its own pathways in the warehouse. Equipment should be restricted by a speed limit that is enforced.

#7 Store items properly.

Warehouses store items on high shelving where they are packed tightly together. To prevent anything from falling and causing injuries, everything should be placed with care, one thing stacked straight on top of another, and heavier pieces should be stored on lower shelves.

 

Make the most of your warehouse with Cin7

When you put recommended safety measures in place, you’re less likely to have downtime caused by injuries. Plus, your workforce will feel much safer.

To optimize warehouse operations even more, there are warehouse management systems (WMS) like Cin7.  This software helps organize your warehouse, which helps you maintain a safe working environment.

To find out more about Cin7’s WMS and how it can make your life as a warehouse manager easier, book a free consultation with one of our experts.

The strategic importance of order processing in supply chain management

For an online sales business or a manufacturing company, it’s all about the supply chain. It covers everything from the procurement of items for sale, or raw materials for the production process, to delivery of the items or products. Controlling the supply chain and keeping oversight on it is, as would be expected, supply chain management (SCM). Order processing is the central pillar of SCM; in a way, it’s the heart of the whole fulfillment process.

In this blog, we’re going to take a close look at how order processing works, and explore its importance to supply chain management.

 

What is order processing?

Order processing goes into effect the minute customers select and pay for goods online and continues until those goods are received. Broad in scope, it follows defined steps to get to that end point.

Here’s how the process breaks down:

Step 1: Orders are received

As soon as customers have filled their online carts and paid for their goods, their orders are transmitted to the warehouse or fulfillment center. Here they’re broken down into their component parts, which means product, quantity, size/color (if relevant), etc.

If the sales or fulfillment company is large enough, these order details are processed by an automated inventory management system (IMS). This sophisticated software will know if customers’ goods are in stock, and if so where they are. In essence, the system is able to determine the best warehouse to route the order to; and if some items aren’t available right away, it will give instructions to send them as, and when, they are. In addition, if a customer has put in more than one order, the IMS can consolidate them into one package.

Step 2: Items are picked

Picking describes the actual job of collecting items for an order from their storage spaces. Pickers do the job. Warehouses can be large—some are gargantuan—so getting organization into this process can be complicated. Picking can either be done on an individual-order basis, by warehouse zone, or in bulk – which means picking for several orders at the same time.

Irrespective of the method used, the whole process starts with a picking list that itemizes everything according to its storage location and sets out a route round the warehouse for the pickers to take. The aim, of course, is to cut down the picking time.

Step 3: Orders are sorted out

After picking, items are taken to a sorting area. If they were picked in bulk or by warehouse zone, this is the area where they’ll be sorted into their individual orders. This is also the time when items are checked against the original orders to make sure everything is there, is in good order, and of high quality.

Step 4: Order are packed up

Making sure the appropriate packaging is used is trickier than might be thought. The box itself should be the right size for the items and strong enough to hold them during shipping, and the padding inside should be enough to protect the contents, but light enough to keep transportation costs down. Sometimes this padding has to be specialized. If food is being packed, for instance, it might have to be kept cool with gel packs or dry ice.

After being packed up, shipping labels are attached.

Step 5: Orders are shipped

We’re now near the end of order processing. After boxing and labeling, shipments are organized by geographical location and assigned to their respective delivery trucks. Size and weight might also be a consideration when selecting transport: extra heavy items, or those that need refrigeration, will need specialized trucks. At this stage, the type of delivery a customer paid for also has to be taken into consideration. Expedited delivery, for example, will be given priority. The point is that it’s important to deliver an item at the time the customer expects it.

Step 6: Orders are delivered

Order delivery is the last step of the order processing system. The customer can choose a particular time to have their order delivered, or they can leave special instructions, like having the package be left with a neighbor. If a customer has opted for Cash on Delivery (COD), the delivery drive will be the one who collects the payment.

 

The importance of order processing in supply chain management

Order processing is the core, the beating heart at the center of the supply chain system that everything else more or less has to service. In essence, for any sales, fulfillment, or manufacturing entity, processing orders – getting them together and getting them to the right customer in time – is what they’re about. It’s true that without proper management in any area of the supply chain businesses won’t perform at their best, but when it comes to order processing, its efficiency, speed, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness are actually the determining factors of success and, ultimately, profit.

Whatever way you look at it, though, supply chain management is a complex operation. That’s why it’s a good idea to automate it.

The upsides of automation are:

  • maximized profits,
  • minimized costs,
  • improved customer satisfaction,
  • increased market share,
  • reduced workload for employees, and
  • an overall boost to the company’s brand and reputation.

 

Final thoughts on order processing and its importance to the system as a whole

Having looked closely at the complete supply chain, we can see that everything centers on the order processing part. Putting orders together and getting them to customers is, in effect, the commercial activity that reasons for the company’s existence.

Automating all or some of the areas of supply chain management with an inventory management system can be of great benefit to a company, both logistically and financially. Cin7 is one of the best.

To learn more about how Cin7 can help your business, you can book a demo from one of our experts by clicking here.

Why your business should use supply chain visibility

All businesses need a strong supply chain to ensure the goods they want to sell are delivered on time, in perfect condition, and at a competitive price. Yet, the supply chain is a complicated system with many players, each with its own goals and strategies. Every step in the production process — from sourcing materials to shipping products to customers — is handled by a dedicated group of people or systems.

Having a well-functioning supply chain can save you time and money. For example, if you have trouble finding a specific product type, you can use your network of suppliers of your other products to help find it. In many ways, your supply chain is critical to the success of your business.

In recent years, there’s been a revolution in how businesses use the supply chain. As the way we buy things changes, the supply chain has undergone a transformation, changing how companies operate in many ways. One essential part of this transformation is the use of technology. Today’s businesses rely on digital tools to manage their supply chains more effectively than ever. This includes electronic data interchange (EDI), which allows companies to send and receive information.

 

What is supply chain visibility?

Supply chain visibility is the ability to see everything that happens in the supply chain. This includes tracking the progress of products from their origin all the way to your customer. It allows you to make sure that products are delivered on time and in accordance with your specifications. You can also track inventory levels and forecast future needs.

When a supply chain is visible, you track the flow of products and materials to ensure they are delivered on time, in the correct quantity, and at the correct cost. This helps you identify and fix problems early, preventing the development of larger issues that could disrupt your operations. Many different tools can be used to track your supply chain, including internal systems, cloud-based ERP systems, and third-party suppliers.

 

The increasing complexity of strategic supply chains & role of technology in managing them

One of the most critical aspects of the supply chain transformation is the increasing complexity of strategic supply chains. A strategic supply chain is essential to your overall success, and it involves multiple steps and connections between different companies. The more complex the supply chain, the more difficult it is to manage.

One way that technology has helped to manage this complexity is by making it easier to track products throughout the supply chain. This tracking can be done with electronic data capture (EDC) systems or radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. EDC systems allow you to track products as they move through the manufacturing process, and RFID tags allow you to track products as they move through the distribution process. These systems allow you to detect problems early in the process and fix them before they become significant.

Another way that technology has helped to manage the complexity of supply chains is by making life easier for purchasing and planning departments. Purchasing departments now have access to more information about their suppliers, including information about the products those suppliers are manufacturing. This allows purchasing departments to be more efficient in selecting the best suppliers and helps them stay competitive in their industry. It also helps companies ensure that their supply chain remains stable and reliable.

Another benefit of technology is that it allows you to expand your sales worldwide and across different regions of the country. For example, you might have factories in several other countries or need goods produced and shipped directly to stores in another region. With modern technology, this kind of operation can take place with ease, as each factory in the supply chain can use technology to get information on how to produce, package, and ship all of the goods they’ve been tasked with supplying.

 

How does technology help make a supply chain visible?

Technology has helped in increasing supply chain visibility. One of the most important ways technology has done this is by creating a digital trail. This trail records all the actions that have been taken along the supply chain, from the sourcing of materials to the delivery of goods to the customer. This information can be used to track down any issues that may have occurred and to make adjustments as needed. It can also help companies to improve their communication with their suppliers. Two technological advancements in the supply chain are the use of big data and Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

Improve analytics with big data

With automation of the supply chain, more data are available for statistical analysis. This can lead to better decision-making at every stage of the supply chain. For example, in your warehouse, picking zones and warehouse space allocation can be determined by analyzing data on the most popular products and efficiency of workers. Similarly, production scheduling and transportation processes may be improved by analyzing such facts as cost, inventories, capacities and consumer patterns.

See more with Internet of Things technology

Although not widely used in the supply chain yet, IoT technology has huge potential. IoT refers to objects that are connected to one another or to a central sensor and communicate with one another. For instance, sensors may be placed on freight containers that report their location and condition to a central source. By tracking devices and data in real time, you can take corrective actions, such as replacing a shipment of food that has been exposed to unsafe temperatures. You can also collect data that over time can reveal patterns, such as where you consistently have bottlenecks in your distribution, that can be used for predictive analysis and preventative measures.

 

How does supply chain visibility enable better inventory management?

By digitizing and automating various aspects of your supply chain, you can improve your inventory management.

Improve inventory management

Inventory management is an important part of any business. It’s essential to be able to track inventory so that you can make sure that you’re always getting the supplies that you need and minimizing the amount of inventory that you have on hand. By having high supply chain visibility, you can ensure that all the different parts of your business are working together as a cohesive unit. This will lead to increased efficiency and reduced costs overall.

Maintain healthy inventory levels

Maintaining healthy levels of inventory allows businesses to avoid excess stock that can lead to increased costs and reduced profits. By automating your inventory, you’ll be able to submit orders for high volume products and make decisions about poorly performing products more quickly, allowing you to maintain healthy inventory levels. This will help to ensure that the inventory remains in good condition and does not exceed the company’s needs.

Boost demand forecasting

By using big data analytics to understand which of your products sell well at certain times of year, you can better predict demand, plan for shortages and manage your inventory effectively.

 

How can Cin7 improve your inventory and supply chain visibility

There are many possible reasons brands lose track of their stock. Generally speaking, though, a lack of visibility tends to come down to inadequate inventory management. If your inventory management system doesn’t automatically include purchases, sales, and other activity that impacts the big picture or if it doesn’t track information in real-time, the information you have about your inventory is not complete nor up-to-date. Here are two common examples:

1. Using manually updated spreadsheets

This is one of the biggest reasons for lack of visibility. Small companies that sell few products can manage fine with spreadsheets. With even a little growth, however, spreadsheets can get out of date quickly, giving you a lack of visibility of what’s in your inventory. Reported stock levels will not match reality, and you may not realize it’s time to restock.

2. Managing sales channels and inventory separately

When you use separate systems for sales channels and inventory, you risk overselling your inventory. For example, if you are a company with a Shopify store and you add Amazon Seller to your channel mix, you will now have at least two places to track inventory, plus any spreadsheets or siloed inventory software you may use as a “master.” The information in your master inventory depends on the people who collect and update the information. If the information is even a little off, the company could end up selling customers a product that isn’t available.

Inventory visibility cannot be an estimate of the products you think you have. It must be the actual inventory based on current sales and any other activity that impacts accurate stock levels and locations, such as purchases, which increase inventory, and branch transfers, which move products to different locations.

 

How to achieve inventory visibility

Proper stock visibility requires accurately recording everything that happens to products in your inventory. This includes purchases, sales, stock transfers, returns, and any workflow that changes inventory quantity, location, or cost. To that end, visibility can only be achieved if all data are integrated with and tracked in a central inventory master, including:

  • All purchases that increase your inventory of components and finished goods,
  • Production jobs that lower component inventory and increase finished goods inventory,
  • Sales orders that reduce your inventory,
  • Dispatched orders that reduce stock on hand and change order status,
  • Purchases and sales that adjust inventory at each stock location,
  • Stocktakes that confirm or adjust inventory at each stock location, and
  • Stock transfers that decrease inventory in one location and increase inventory in another.

The key to visibility is to integrate your data so that you can track products in real-time as they move through your supply chain, affecting stock levels and inventory value along the way.

The benefits of inventory visibility

Integrating data allows your company to

  • Reduce data entry and eliminate related errors.
  • Eliminate the use of redundant software and portals.
  • Increase order accuracy.
  • Maintain optimal inventory levels / reduce overall storage costs.
  • Fulfill orders faster and increase order transparency.
  • Build customer satisfaction and drive future purchases.
  • Increase forecast accuracy for improved inventory planning.
  • Reduce losses due to obsolete inventory.

 

Achieving inventory visibility is simple with Cin7

By providing real-time visibility into the status of shipments, Cin7 helps companies to identify potential issues in a timely manner and take corrective action. By using Cin7, businesses can confidently rely on the software to help them make informed decisions about their business operations. Book a free, no-obligation demo below to learn more about how Cin7 gives product companies complete, real-time inventory visibility. Request a Demo.

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 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.

Top 20 B2B apps to boost sales in 2022

To increase sales and beat competitors, you need the right technology. Apps that improve efficiency, like sales rep management tools, can boost your bottom line.

But it can be a challenge to determine which sales apps are the best for you and your team. So, we’ve done the research for you. We have compiled a list of the best sales apps that can improve your business performance.

Here’s the list of the top 20 proven sales apps to boost productivity.

 

1. Slack – team communication

Connect your remote teams and centralize communication with this best-in-class messaging app. Communicate seamlessly with your team and boost collaborative productivity using Slack. It’s one of the most reliable sales team tools.

You can discuss projects, share files, and maintain transparency within the team. Plus, Slack integrates with other CRM tools to manage sales efficiently.

  • Work with external contacts, adding them as guests.
  • Create channels for different topics.
  • Engage with team members to share vital messages quickly.
  • Set reminders to complete tasks on-time.

 

2. LinkedIn – lead development

While technically LinkedIn is a social platform, our clients still rank it as one of the top tools for lead development. LinkedIn is an excellent place to find leads and nurture sales prospects – especially when selling to companies. You can search profiles of key decision-makers and even contact them through LinkedIn messages.

Knowing the key players saves sales reps from navigating multiple gatekeepers before reaching decision-makers.

 

3. MailChimp – email marketing automation

MailChimp is a cost-effective way to manage your email subscribers. With over nine million users, MailChimp is one of the most popular email marketing platforms.

Their tools allow you to send well-designed emails to targeted audiences. MailChimp has advanced analytics to measure the effectiveness of outbound emails. MailChimp integrates with numerous third-party apps to sync customer data and streamline workflows.

 

4. Saleslion – sales proposal creation

With Saleslion, you can create interactive proposals and sales materials online which will help in closing more deals faster. The platform allows you to optimize every step of your sales process – be it clarifying audience motivation or comprehending the sales message.

Ultimately, you can design smarter processes and sales strategies to close deals with prospects. Be prepared for any sales objections and confidently handle sales calls with Saleslion.

 

5. Snov.io – outreach and lead generation

Snov.io is a CRM that saves you time. Snov.io’s toolset is easy to navigate so you can spend more time nurturing and converting leads than searching for them. The app uses personalized automation for email campaigns designed to engage and convert, including follow-up.

Snov.io has over 2000 integrations to boost efficiency. Connect with customer service platforms, multi-channel marketing apps, and productivity tools.

 

6. Hunter – email hunter

Hunter connects you with professionals who matter to your business. Search first and last names or company websites to find the email address of the person you want to reach – provided the company has a verified domain that’s publicly available.

It’s one of the best apps for finding business emails for sales prospecting.

 

7. Badger Maps – route planner for sales

Badger Maps is a multi-stop route planner designed for in-the-field salespeople. With Badger Maps, you can meet the right prospects at the right time, using the fastest route with over 100 stops.

With features like check-ins, lead generation, and follow-up reminders, Badger would streamline every aspect of a field salesperson’s job. Badger Maps is one of the best sales route planners for sales reps and their teams, with the selling capabilities of a CRM and a prospecting tool.

Badger Maps is available for iPhone, Mac, PC, and Android. It also syncs seamlessly with multiple CRMs to keep important customer information in one place.

 

8. Zoom – video conferencing

Cut down the travel expenses and save time by holding conferences, meetings, and webinars online with Zoom. It’s a leader in modern enterprise video communications and a perfect solution to conduct distance meetings.

With this advanced sales productivity tool, you can easily share screens with prospects and give effective sales presentations from anywhere at any time of the day – it’s a perfect solution for today’s global marketplace.

 

9. MakerMove – tools and resources

MakerMove is a special platform for makers and founders to discover useful resources and tools. There are numerous curated lists of resources available, but MakerMove puts them all together in a nice interface. This allows you to quickly discover innovative products to help you succeed.

Get inspired by the best podcasts and books to help you grow. Find journalists to get press coverage or connect with the best investors to fund your startup. Discover anything you need to boost your project – all in one place.

 

10. Track-POD – route planner software

Track-POD is the emerging leader in contactless and paperless delivery solutions. It’s more than proof of delivery.

The app provides route planning and optimization, real-time driver tracking, fleet management, customer portal and notifications, e-sign, and paperless proof of delivery. You can level up and scale your delivery management with Track-POD.

 

11. CircleBack – address book management

Good communication is crucial to building long-lasting relationships. But it isn’t easy to maintain meaningful connections when the contacts are outdated, or worse, scattered on post-its or other places. Avoid clutter and manage contacts with ease using CircleBack.

CircleBack is one of the best sales productivity tools to keep your information up-to-date and organized.

  • Scan business cards to add new contacts instantly.
  • Remove duplicate entries to keep your address book clean.
  • Connect multiple networks in one unified address book.
  • Integrate with CRM tools to ensure your contacts and deals are updated.

 

12. Feedly – news aggregator application

Don’t miss important news related to your industry. Now you can stay updated with the latest trends in the global marketplace with Feedly. Find news, content, and articles you like on a single platform.

Track what you read using Feedly’s history option. As well, receive suggestions for new blogs that may interest you.

 

13. Evernote – note taking app

Take the market research beyond bookmarks and eliminate scrap paper with Evernote. It’s a digital storage facility for vital data. Not only can you maintain a wide range of content but also store images, record notes, and upload PDF files using this smart note-taking application.

  • Tag the notes for quick reference.
  • Manage content from any internet-connected device.
  • Attach pictures and audio directly to notes.
  • Create shortcuts to frequently accessed files.
  • Set reminders for projects and tasks.

 

14. Tripit – itinerary and travel planner

Streamline travel plans in one place to stay organized with Tripit. Everything from flight details to hotel bookings are easily available within this app. Tripit offers a master itinerary for all your trips to ensure seamless and hassle-free traveling.

 

15. Basecamp – project management

Complete sales tasks on-time and collaborate with your team using Basecamp. Basecamp is a project management app and one of the best sales team tools. Eliminate complexity and keep projects and communications centralized. Basecamp organizes the who, what, where, and why for company projects.

  • Receive an email notification when new tasks are assigned or old ones are due.
  • Keep everyone in the loop with real-time project discussions.
  • View each detail related to a project in one place.
  • See deadlines, tasks, and events in one view using Basecamp Calendar.
  • Share large files hassle-free.

 

16. Doodle – meeting scheduling

Simplify the process of setting meetings and finding convenient times to meet with potential prospects using Doodle. Stay away from conflicting bookings and stay on track with this amazing daily sales app.

Whether you’re coordinating with 30 volunteers for a huge event or a small team for a monthly meeting, Doodle keeps everyone on the same page by seamlessly scheduling meetings and events.

 

17. Leadfeeder – website visitor tracking

Keep an eye on website visitors using Leadfeeder. Know who visits your site and what pages they look at with this high-end marketing tool. It is one of the best ways to convert site visitors into leads.

Leadfeeder integrates with numerous marketing tools to capture and manage leads.

 

18. Expensify – expense management

Tracking expenses is a necessity for business travel. Expensify is the easiest way to simplify and streamline expense management. Expensify is one of the best expense management apps, with more than 2.5 million users worldwide.

  • Create expense reports by clicking a photo of trip receipts.
  • Link credit and/or debit cards with your Expensify account to automatically place charges in expense reports.
  • Convert expense reports into customized invoices with just one click.

 

19. Chorus – conversation intelligence platform

Chorus uses artificial intelligence to record and transcribe sales calls into notes in real-time. This enables sales teams to store valuable information from phone conversations quickly and efficiently.

Chorus extracts insights from sales calls, which can help you fine-tune your communication strategies with clients.

  • Analyze sales calls and meeting recordings.
  • Discover top performing sales reps.
  • Create a playlist of great calls for training new sales reps.
  • Track performance and compare it with teammates by viewing the leaderboard.
  • Share recordings with the sales team.

 

20. Lastpass – password manager

This list would not be complete without a password manager. Our customers rely on LastPass as their password management app. LastPass stores your passwords in one location that you can access from anywhere.

LastPass syncs with multiple devices and is easy to use.

 

App integration with Cin7

As a small business owner, part of your job is staying one step ahead of your competitors. One way to do that is to streamline your processes – which is exactly what these sales apps do. Explore the extensive features of all these popular apps and leverage their benefits to improve your business’s bottom line.

Speaking of integrations, Cin7 integrates with 700+ business tools that your sales team can use to boost your business. Cin7 integrates with sales and marketing apps, 3PL providers, payment gateways, EDI suppliers, and a lot more. You can access the full list of our integrations from here. 

Use integrations to increase sales and reorders and win new customers.

Contact us to book your demo now. We’ll take the time to understand how we can help your business.

5 essential elements of a great B2B digital marketing campaign

If you’re running a B2B business, you already know that B2B digital marketing is an essential component of a strong marketing plan.  But what makes a strong digital marketing plan?

Here are the five key elements of a great digital marketing campaign.

 

1. Company website

Your company website is the first impression your business makes. Your website is the digital extension of your brand, your business, and your values. Any campaign you run online will only be as good as your website and the sales funnels created on your website.

To create an impactful website, be clear on your objectives. Are you using your site to close more sales? Are you creating a website that serves as a valuable resource for your industry?  Once you know your objectives, you can begin the design process.

Every part of your website must be carefully designed, keeping in mind the choices and tastes of your target audience. If you’re targeting people between the ages of 18 and 35, your language cannot be outdated.

The bottom line: Create content that your audience can relate to.

Here are some of the things to keep in mind while creating a top performing website include:

  • It needs to load quickly even on slow networks.
  • It should be mobile responsive.
  • The navigation should be clear and clutter-free to help visitors reach their desired web page without much effort.
  • Links within the text should draw the visitor into the site.
  • The content should be fresh, plagiarism-free, and engaging.
  • Your social media links should be easy to find.
  • New content should be added regularly and older content should be updated.

Moreover, if you feel your product(s) can be sold online, or perhaps you already sell via any of the major ecommerce sites like Amazon or ebay- you should consider integrating an online store right into your website. One of the core benefits of doing this is that your customers will be able to shop for your products without having to leave your website.

There are many platforms that can help you build an ecommerce website in minutes, without any technical knowledge. Once you’re done creating a stunning website, simply integrate it with Cin7 for seamless, multi-channel order management.

 

2. Search engine optimization and content marketing

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most important parts of any digital marketing effort. SEO can help determine how high your website – or social content – appears in search results whenever someone searches for the keywords you’re targeting. Organic search results appear when someone is looking for relevant content that your site offers. Non-organic results come from paid advertising. The stronger your SEO, the more organic reach you will have.

So how does SEO help your business exactly? Let’s say you’ve built a beautiful brick-and-mortar store. You’ve applied shiny paint and decorated the shelves with your products. You’re ready to welcome your customers into the store you’ve built.

However, you forgot to put any signs on the road. Without the signs, nobody will know that your store exists, where it exists, and what it sells. Your store might be amazing, but it still won’t attract customers because they simply don’t know it exists. Now imagine you go to the road and put a big, shiny sign that says: “Welcome to your dream store.” Now people know your store exists and you will at least have set the groundwork to gain new business.

This is what SEO does for your website. When you create content with SEO in mind, it improves your search rank, so when someone does an Internet search for the products or services you sell, your website rises to the top.

 

3. Pay per click campaigns

No matter how great your SEO efforts are, all businesses see a drop in their reach from time to time. When you need an artificial boost, consider pay per click (PPC) campaigns. Originally offered by Google, now PPC campaigns are offered by several online companies. You are charged every time a user clicks on your ad.

Many social media offer pay per click advertising.  For example, Facebook offers PPC campaign opportunities for its users. Businesses can get access to millions of views if they set the right price for the right audience.

PPC campaigns are a great way to attract eyeballs towards your business. Of course, you cannot rely solely on a PPC campaign, but they can become an integral part of your overall digital marketing plan.

 

4. Social media marketing

Most B2B brands have realized the immense power of social media and have leveraged it to their advantage.

According to a study by Sproutsocial, 83% of B2B marketers use social media to enhance their digital footprint and reach new audiences. This is because social media sites have evolved to be platforms for everyone. People from all walks of life are actively engaged with each other through a variety of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Use social media to promote a specific blog, ebook, or other form of digital collateral you think your audience would find helpful. Once you get them engaged with your content, they’re already in your sales funnel.

However, the tricky part about leveraging social media is that you cannot become complacent. Just because something worked for you in the past, doesn’t guarantee that it will keep working. The traffic is always shifting from one platform to another, thereby creating newer, better avenues for marketing. Your goal should be to closely monitor where your target audience is moving, and focus on how to reach them there.

 

5. Automation

Your digital marketing doesn’t have to be an all-manual affair. Automating repetitive tasks can free up a lot of your time.

Start with something as small as sending out email newsletters to your subscribers every week. You can create a six-month newsletter plan and every time subscribers sign up for your newsletter, they start receiving those pre-planned, pre-scheduled newsletters. Add a welcome email as well as emails asking for feedback and reviews every time someone makes a purchase.

Use analytics to track how those emails are doing. Monitor open rates and conversion rates and adapt accordingly. This is just one example of how you can use automation in your business.

 

Final words

Developing a B2B marketing campaign is very important. The hardest part is being consistent. Automation really helps with consistency. Also, reusing content on your blog or website for social posts also helps with consistency.

It’s also important that your marketing strategy takes its cues from your overall inventory strategy. To achieve this, make sure that different departments across the company work in close coordination with each other, and can be tracked via a robust inventory management system.

To know more about how Cin7 can revolutionize your B2B inventory management, book a free demo today.

Posted in B2B

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.