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.

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.

Top supply chain trends to watch in 2022

Covid-19 has changed the way many businesses operate, and new trends are emerging daily. Many industries have sustained massive losses and others have made huge gains. In fact, entire supply chains have transformed in new and interesting ways.

Here’s a list of key trends that will take over in the supply chain industry in the coming year. In modern times, the supply chain is an essential part of every organization. We expect a year full of supply chain improvement and evolution. Let’s jump right in.

Improved artificial intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence (AI) will become a primary driver in the ever-growing supply chain industry. AI algorithms have the capability to automate basic operations by processing data from previous operations. AI has the potential to save a lot of time and remove a substantial amount of human error. These two improvements will make supply chains much more efficient.

AI can also decrease the amount of human capital needed for performing both basic and complicated tasks. Because of this, the potential for AI is enormous. It can help businesses identify patterns in data and give managers access to a range of useful insights. As businesses take advantage of AI, operations in the supply chain will become more accurate and efficient.

Robotic automation

Robotic automation, including drones and driverless vehicles, can improve the supply chain by streamlining logistics operations. In the coming year, some executives will start using self-driving drones to make small goods deliveries.

In 2019, nearly half of U.S. companies spent up to $869 million on at least 16,400 robots. Robotic automation is playing a massive role in the supply chain and supply chain management companies.

The emerging scope of IoT (Internet of Things)

Like AI and robotic automation, organizations are increasingly interested in using IoT devices to improve visibility. The Internet of Things will benefit the supply chain industry in many ways.  Companies will be able to fit sensors into vehicles, warehouses, and outlets to provide data that enhances visibility in inventory management, production, and maintenance.

End-to-end IoT services are rapidly being adopted by supply chain organizations. IoT will help increase transparency across the entire supply chain. Everything will be tracked in real time as GPS sensors are fitted in different kinds of transportation.

Sensors play a vital role in warehouses by providing visibility into inventory management. It will also play a large role in gauging demand for retailers, too.

Blockchain

Customers want same-day delivery of their products, but this level of speed and efficiency can be difficult to manage for logistics teams. This is where blockchain technology can help supply chain management.

Blockchain can help businesses eliminate intermediaries and communicate directly with potential customers. Blockchain technology can also assist in distributing data transparently. However, blockchain’s most significant advantage in supply chain management is that it offers complete protection for securing information. Because it’s decentralized, blockchain helps keep data protected from unwanted edits. Customers, shipping lines, logistics firms, and vendors can communicate over a single, protected platform where information is stored.

Agility in supply chain management

Thanks to the pandemic, the supply chain industry is becoming much more agile. Supply chains are becoming increasingly flexible, and they now have the ability to deal with changes, disruptions, and challenges that arise.

Thanks to AI and machine learning, many companies can adapt on the fly. Shipments are becoming more personalized as pre-orders specify exact requirements. As industries move forward, customers are becoming more prioritized. The ability to customize is becoming a total necessity. Companies are starting to build infrastructure that permits customized orders in the supply chain without adding any cost.

Smart contracts

Automation is escalating in multiple ways. Along with AI and robotic automation, smart contracts are starting to emerge, too. Companies are starting to use smart contracts to settle payments with cryptocurrencies automatically, which removes the need for arbitration and makes the payment process much quicker.

Smart contracts are transaction protocols that are executed when required conditions are met. They can also be useful for generating invoices when shipments reach their destination. The most common use case, however, is when financial transactions are being performed between parties.

Omnichannel is the new trend

Customers are starting to expect better customer experience, and omnichannel can help by providing a quicker, more direct shopping experience. Omnichannel services will help customers as they shop online or in stores.

People want to purchase and receive goods as quickly as possible. This is why the demand for streamlined logistics is increasing every day. Omnichannel supply chains are helping customers get a smoother, more transparent experience.

ScaaS (Supply chain as a Service)

As supply chain management teams become smaller, companies are starting to hire groups of skilled individuals who focus on making strategic, supply-chain-enhancing decisions.

Most businesses still manage their supply chains in-house. However, as trends and technologies evolve, many companies will adopt the ScaaS (supply chain as a service) business model. It’s a great way for companies to outsource logistics, inventory management, packing, and more.

 

Stay on top of new trends to streamline your supply chains

As new technology emerges, processes will become both smarter and faster. If you follow the trends, your supply chain has the potential to become more sustainable and customer-centric. Trending technologies like IoT, AI, and blockchain can help simplify your current processes and automate your operations.

By staying updated and well-informed on evolving supply chain trends, you can stay flexible and adopt the technology that makes more sense for your business. As you do this, you will reduce supply chain disruptions. Ultimately, this knowledge will help your business boost efficiency and productivity.

With Cin7, you can get real-time inventory insights. You can also automate your purchase orders to avoid stockouts. Cin7 also integrates with 3PL providers to help you streamline your order fulfillment. Book a demo with our experts to learn more about using Cin7’s capabilities for scaling your operations.

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.

 

Supply chain resilience strategy: build and measure

It is no secret that COVID-19 damaged the modern-day supply chain. From silicon shortage to toilet paper stockouts, the marketplace has seen it all. According to a survey from the Institute for Supply Management, 95% of the businesses had to endure operational troubles during the initial pandemic days in April 2020.

While businesses cannot prevent such disruptions, they can prepare themselves to persevere through them.

The Cin7 team has compiled a list of strategies to build a resilient supply chain for your business and help gain an edge over the competition.

 

What is supply chain resilience?

The origins of the supply chain resilience concept can be traced back to the work of C.S. Holling, an ecologist who coined the term “ecological resilience.” It refers to the ability of an ecosystem to maintain normal patterns despite being subjected to the damage arising from ecological disruptions.

Supply chain resilience is defined as an organization’s ability to recover from unexpected supply chain disruptions using its “ecosystem’s” existing capabilities, ensuring that the operations run smoothly and the customers remain satisfied.

 

Challenges and risks in building successful supply chains

The pandemic disrupted nearly every stage of an organization’s supply chain. The effect was global and prolonged.

As bad as the pandemic was and continues to be, it is just one of the many factors that disrupt the smooth functioning of the supply chain. Here are some scenarios that pose risks to the supply chain:

#1 Operational risks

Operational risks occur because of breakdowns in normal working operations. Both technical and non-technical reasons can pose this risk.

Example: Machine failure due to poor maintenance (technical) and mismanagement (non-technical). This risk can be classified as internal risk, i.e., it can be fully controlled and avoided by the organization.

#2 Financial risks

Delays from the supplier can cause delays in your production process. This type of risk emerges due to shortcomings in the suppliers’ finances and revenue.

Example: The supplier reduces the production of your raw materials due to their own financial woes or files for bankruptcy. To combat such a scenario, either extend them a line of credit or search for an alternative supplier.

#3 Legal risks

Legal risks arise when organizations are slapped with lawsuits, whether they are frivolous or not. Fighting lawsuits takes a toll on your time, money, and resources. Severe cases can also tarnish your reputation, leading to a loss in revenue and business development.

Example: If a lawsuit for an intellectual property violation is filed against your company or you are fined for breaking environmental laws, any suppliers who get trapped in either scenario can catastrophically disrupt the supply chain of your business.

#4 Geopolitical risks

Globalization has converted the entire world into a connected village, where consumers are no longer dependent on geographical boundaries to purchase items.

Producers benefit from globalization, as they are no longer restricted to sourcing their raw materials from the same region. Faster connectivity ensures that they can order from any corner of the world at a price that fits their budget.

Global connectivity also comes with its challenges. While businesses operate under the trade and commerce laws of their nation, working with partners from various countries adds various layers of complexity.

Situations like political turbulence, governmental policy changes, and war outbreaks can hinder your suppliers’ capacity to make timely delivery.

Example: The US-China trade war and Brexit are classic examples of geopolitical risks.

#5 Natural disasters

Hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters have been disrupting the supply chain for ages. Such disasters can be classified as external risks, as they are not in the control of the business. Regardless of the classification of risk, these calamities lead to port closures and cargo flight cancellations, in addition to creating capacity constraints and supply shortages.

Even climate change affects the operations of businesses. Research from the

United Nations Development Program (UNDP) suggests that rising temperatures could lead to adverse effects on the workers.

According to the UNDP, climate change’s economic impact on labor productivity could reach $2.5 trillion in global losses by 2030.

Example: In 2017, Hurricane Harvey and Irma—fueled by symptoms of climate change—hit the gulf coast in a span of two weeks. These hurricanes left a trail of physical and economic destruction, including a severe disruption to the regional supply chain.

#6 Cyberattacks

The rise of digitalization has also given rise to cyber security attacks. In fact, cyberattacks have become a leading cause of supply chain vulnerability.

The supply chain becomes a tempting target for hackers as vendors often possess sensitive data about companies or have enough access to allow for privilege escalation.

As attacks of such nature become more common, manufacturers must invest in cybersecurity proactively. This is for safeguarding them as well as their clientele’s data.

Example: Airbus is one of the world’s largest airline manufacturers, and they were subjected to a series of cyberattacks in 2018. The hackers gained access to the confidential documents containing the schematics for classified military transport planes through the attack.

 

Strategies to build a resilient supply chain

A robust supply chain resilience strategy requires two complementary supply chain pillars: resistance and recovery capacity.

Resistance capacity is the ability of a supply chain system to minimize the overall impact caused by disruption. It can be done in two ways:

  • Evasion: Entirely avoiding the factor causing disruption in the supply chain.
  • Containment: Minimizing the period between an event and the time when the supply chain starts to recover from the effects.

Recovery capacity is a supply chain’s ability to restore itself to the level prior to its disruption.

For organizations to achieve true supply chain resilience, they need to be prepared to confront obstacles before they cause any considerable damage.

There are seven distinct strategies to build strong resilience and ensure quick recovery.

#1 Creating buffers

Manufacturers should create buffers to build resilience against minor operational risks like employees calling out sick or shop floor machines breaking down. Building buffers and making them a part of your operational process reduces your dependence on the supply chain working at full capacity.

According to one survey, 21% of the supply chain experts consider maintaining buffer stock as a solid indicator of resilience. The challenge of maintaining high buffer stock can increase your carrying costs, so the optimal buffers need to be strategically planned.

#2 Optimized inventory control

If you are relying on a single warehouse for storing your inventory, consider the option to spread your inventory across different locations.

A natural disaster damaging the warehouse or a virus outbreak among warehouse employees would undoubtedly lead to fulfillment delays.

Splitting the inventory helps minimize the risk and helps expand your customer reach by reducing shipping costs and speeding the shipping time.

Another way to build resilience is to invest in technology that provides real-time visibility into your supply chain. It helps monitor your supply chain performance and identify any and all bottlenecks. Inventory management software assists you to make better inventory decisions and set up reorder points to ensure that you never run out of stock.

Investing in an integrated warehouse management system helps you with better inventory management while reducing the number of errors. Successful organizations devise strategies to manage the longer lead times and methods to counter the unexpected surge in demand, while building replenishment models to ensure that the goods are available when needed.

#3 Investing in human resources

Human resources are necessary to complete the work but having experienced supply chain managers with market knowledge helps navigate through unexpected disruptions.

Merely hiring exceptional people is not enough—the business also needs systems built and SOPs to establish production infrastructure. Your team should have personnel dedicated to fostering better supplier relationships and for commodity management.

Commodity managers monitor the market to scout for new products in demand, price changes, and the latest supply chain developments. This information helps ensure staying on top of market trends and aids in better cost management and decision making.

Helpful hint: The pandemic has been a catalyst to the remote working environment. Such work environmental changes affect the wellbeing of the workers, both physically and psychologically.

The mental well-being of the workers must not be overlooked. “Emotional resilience” is every bit as important as supply chain resilience.

#4 Having multiple supply partners

The concept of partnering with multiple suppliers for procurement is referred to as multisourcing.

One piece of famous investment advice is “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Similarly, relying on a single partner for procuring materials is filled with risk, so partnering with multiple vendors will ensure that your proverbial eggs are placed in several baskets.

Multisourcing ensures that your supply chain does not get disrupted when your primary supplier fails to deliver on time, as you can source it from someone else. It also helps with incentivizing competitive pricing among suppliers so that you get the best returns.

The pandemic demonstrated that diversification is an integral part of building supply chain resilience. For example, China is lauded as one of the world’s leading raw materials suppliers but had production grind to a halt due to Covid-19. When the lockdown was imposed in 2020, manufacturers sought and partnered with different countries like Mexico and Vietnam to expand their network.

Helpful hint: While working with multiple suppliers, you should have a dedicated team for supplier relationships. The supplier relationship manager focuses on developing deeper relationships with suppliers by understanding their core strategies and approaching them with mutually beneficial opportunities. If the supplier is working on limited capacity, there is a good chance they will prioritize the business that has built better relations with them.

#5 Effective communication

Managing supply chains requires a cross-functional effort from all the departments. Businesses need to be agile and loosen the silo structure, which inhibits the flow of information.

As the trend for hybrid working increases, companies should allocate the necessary IT resources for smooth operations and orient them with the relevant tools for communication. Managing virtual teams is very different from conventional teams, so provide managers adequate training to lead them.

Helpful hint: Keep your employees and suppliers in the loop during any periods of disruption. Provide them with relevant company information to help them make informed decisions and minimize errors.

#6 Planning and forecasting

When introducing a new product to the marketplace, it takes approximately two to three years for product development, and the lead time takes approximately 25 to 40 weeks.

It means that to deliver a product during the holidays, a business must start the plan in March. However, businesses forecast demands using their historical data, yet no demand forecasting plan would have predicted that a pandemic would be declared in March, leading to lockdowns and drastically changing customer preferences.

A feasible way to combat such forecasting issues is to invest heavily in analytics and upgrade supply chain technology. A business continuity plan identifies all the potential risks, quantifies them, and then devises a plan to deal with them, while keeping the organization running concurrently.

#7 Developing ecosystem partnerships

Many eCommerce businesses lack the supply chain infrastructure to manage the inbound and outbound logistics. This is where third-party logistics (3PLs) come to the rescue.

Partnering with 3PLs can offer reduced costs, a warehousing facility, and access to a better transportation network. This can help streamline the fulfillment process and diversify the fulfillment process so that manufacturers can prioritize their core competence.

Third-party logistics partners also bring their years of experience to the table, helping you optimize your solid supply chain infrastructure and build resilience.

 

Measuring supply chain resilience

To test the efficacy of your planning, McKinsey recommends a stress test model. This model quantifies the supply chain resilience against five factors:

  • Industry attractiveness
  • Customer exposure
  • Operations exposure
  • Corporate resilience
  • Supply chain exposure

Apart from the stress test model, there are three core metrics that help in evaluating supply chain resilience.

#1 Time to survive

This metric refers to the time to resume business operations after a disruption.

For instance, the time to survive metric for some factories in China was nearly three weeks. It reflects how long it takes to establish the necessary safety measures (like offering personal protective equipment kits) and obtain clearance from the government.

In this phase, the companies need to answer some key questions around:

  • Compensating the people
  • Bringing people back to the workplace
  • Taking corrective measures to reopen their premises

In a nutshell, time to survive answers the question, “How long does it take to reopen the business?”

#2 Time to recover

Recovery time is how long it takes to return your business to the capacity it had before the disruption.

Even though the Chinese factories started to function again after the Covid-19 outbreak, they were only running at a fraction of their standard capacity. This occurred due to a lack of workers and loss of production time. It took an additional three to four months to recover.

Prepare and protect your business by examining how long it would take to get operations back in working order.

#3 Time to thrive

The time to thrive arrives after the recovery phase, but only after an evaluation of how the business confronted the crisis.

It juxtaposes the state of business before and after the crisis and determines if and how the company learned any lessons from the disruption and improved.

Regardless of what analysis emerges during this phase, businesses should be ready to pivot their offerings to match what the market demands now. For instance, many restaurants now offer home delivery or pick-up due to the consumers’ behavioral change caused by the lockdown.

Once a company determines how it has or hasn’t improved after facing the crisis, the time to thrive is not far off.

 

In summary

Businesses need to be agile and flexible enough to adapt to the changes caused by disruptions.

Building a resilient supply chain mitigates the risk and boosts operational efficiency. Companies that invest in supply chain resilience often see shorter product development cycles than those that overlook it, which can be a competitive advantage.

By partnering with Cin7, you can automate your workflow as well as get better analytics and insights about your inventory, which helps in data-driven decision making. You can also partner with the best 3PLs through our integrations.

The experts at Cin7 can help you build a resilient supply chain for your business. Book a call now to discover more!

7 considerations for EDI success

Technology has drastically improved how we interact with the world. Transportation has evolved from animal carts to fast cars; data transmission has changed from postal letters to instant emails. With the advent of the Internet, the world has turned into a connected village.

In such a connected world, your business needs to be able to share relevant information with stakeholders like suppliers. Thanks to technology, this process can be streamlined using EDI. You can electronically share information about purchase orders, invoices, and status information with your stakeholders using EDI.

In this article, we will discuss what EDI means and what challenges you may face while using EDI for your business. Let’s get started.

 

What is EDI?

EDI stands for Electronic Data Interchange, and it facilitates the computer-to-computer data transfer between two (or more) parties. In layman’s terms, EDI is similar to a chat messenger that delivers information from your device to your friend’s device.

The parties that exchange information through EDI are EDI trading partners. EDI software allows its users to create templates so that they can standardize documents shared with EDI trading partners.

Suppose you integrate EDI with your ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) tool or inventory management system (IMS). Once complete, your EDI can automatically fetch the necessary documents from the ERP/IMS database and send it to trading partners as required. This way, you do not have to create documents from scratch.

In the absence of EDI, businesses had to rely on the postal service, faxing, or email all of which had drawbacks. Let us understand EDI better with the help of an example.

John runs an apparel business, and he replenishes the inventory by ordering goods from David – the manufacturer. In the past, his purchase manager would draft a purchase order, print it, and then postal mail to David to reorder stock. The order would be received by David’s sales representative, who would manually enter the items being ordered along with the respective quantity into the system to finalize the sale.

The process seems lengthy and time-consuming, right? With EDI, sending information takes seconds rather than its postal counterpart – which can take days (even weeks!).

John’s purchase manager simply needs to add order information – product specification, quantity – in his EDI software, which will be automatically forwarded to David’s (manufacturer) EDI software. David can easily integrate the EDI tool with his order management system, such that an order can be directly placed when John sends a purchase request through EDI.

 

 

Credit

It is evident that EDI can streamline the purchase process which is better than doing it manually. The manual process also has room for many errors; for starters, the sales representative can enter incorrect order quantities into the system.

EDI not only saves your processing time, but it also helps in boosting the accuracy as it minimizes human error.

EDI also brings labor cost savings, as you do not need to incur the charges of printing the order details and the cost of postal handling/faxing/email the documents. Even the recipient does not need to endure the hassle of sorting and storing the physical copies for the record.

 

Common EDI challenges

Now that we are clear about the use and benefits of EDI let us also discuss the challenges faced while implementing EDI.

#1 Compatibility with trading partners

Deciding to implement an EDI system involves revamping your database. This challenge can multiply if you choose to create and administer the EDI in-house. Even after successful implementation from your end, the challenges do not end.

As EDI facilitates the transactions between trading partners in real-time, it is essential that your EDI system successfully synchronizes with their system for accurate data transfer.

Another hurdle could be that some of your suppliers may not be so keen to implement an EDI due to a lack of knowledge and hesitation about data sharing.

Apart from the stakeholders, it is also essential to train your internal staff to work with the EDI system. You do not want your purchase manager to order 1,000 items instead of 100 accidentally! The repercussions of mistakes can be huge, and thus it makes sense to fully acquaint your employees with the relevant features of the EDI.

As the stakes are high, it is advisable to consult an EDI expert rather than trying to figure things out on your own.

#2 Standardized formatting

The complexity of EDI integration can be challenging when your trading partners customize the formatting guidelines to cater to their unique needs. For instance, the invoicing transaction code is referred to as EDI 810.

Some invoice fields are common across all trading partners. However, the partner may likely add some additional EDI segments specific to their business.

In such scenarios, compatibility can be an issue that can lead to transaction errors. Here the experience and support of EDI providers become crucial as they are experienced with handling such issues.

While doing B2G (Business-to-government) transactions, your EDI should be compliant with the document formats legislated by the government. For example, Since 2020, the majority of European governments have been mandated to accept invoices electronically. Even the federal German public bodies have stopped accepting unstructured invoices – PDFs, printed documents – and only accept e-invoices.

As your business expands, it is essential to comply with government standards to avoid penalties. The standards can be region-specific – like the VDA format in the German automobile industry – or industry-wide.

These are some widely adopted standards in the EDI industry:

  • UN/EDIFACT (Electronic Data Interchange for Administration) was devised by the United Nations in 1987. It created standards for the syntax and structure of the messages to ensure that EDI is compatible with multi-industry transactions.
  • GS1 is essentially a subset of EDIFACT, and it is widely used to standardize product data. It uses GS1 identification numbers to help identify each product, location, and trading partner. The GS1 identification numbers are usually in barcode format, which can be scanned to add the physical products into the database, and movement can be tracked.

You must also ensure that your EDI can accommodate various transmission protocols such as FTP, HTTP, SFTP, and AS2. AS2 (Applicability Statement 2) has gained popularity in the retail and consumer goods industry since its adoption by Walmart. AS2 is used to transmit EDI messages quickly, safely, and cheaply!

#3 Security considerations

Despite its wide adoption across various industries, some partners may still be concerned about implementing EDI due to the nature of information sharing.

These concerns may arise from various factors such as lack of trust and risk of information leak due to security breaches. International laws can further add to the challenges by introducing legal frameworks and data protection rules.

You must ensure that the information is shared via encrypted transfer protocols. It is best to discuss your security measures with your partners, to ensure that everyone is on the same page and comfortable with your business practices.

It should be noted that the sensitivity of the information varies, like your order data may not be as sensitive as the invoices (which can contain vital billing information). You need to take extra precautions while dealing with highly sensitive data – as with healthcare customers, for example.

A value-added network (VAN) is a hosted private network that is used to offer connectivity between EDI trading partners. It acts as the gateway to sharing documents between parties – in other words; it is like a digital postal service. You need to check the security certifications of your VAN network, like ISO 27001 accreditation.

#4 Rising EDI cost

EDI helps lower your operational costs and optimizes logistics; however, you need to spend to get started. A substantial investment to purchase the necessary infrastructure – hardware and software – for EDI transactions will be required. If you decide to build an in-house EDI, you also need a dedicated IT team for its maintenance.

If your EDI implementation does not go well, it could also tarnish your reputation amongst your trading partners. Your manufacturing vendors may even penalize you for incorrect ordering as it can impact their production lines.

To lower your costs, you can outsource to a cloud-based EDI system provider. In this case, you won’t have to invest in a dedicated set-up and transactions run in the cloud, leading to cost savings.

Additionally, a provider updates the EDI automatically, so it saves you from any hassle when scaling up.

#5 Data errors

According to a study by the University of Tennessee, 60% of B2B transactions are suspended or declined due to some anomaly in the data. This makes it crucial to take necessary steps for data governance, to make the most of your EDI’s potential.

The report further suggests that 16% of the orders placed in a month contain an incorrect price and 20% of orders are for items that are either discontinued or not available in stock. Surprisingly, 8% include a duplicate purchase order.

Such situations can be dealt with by adding EDI rules that monitor transactions for variables like price differences and PO validity. This way, the system can send alerts to your team whenever a discrepancy is found.

There are times when a manufacturer needs to increase the price of a particular product. Needless to say, it is crucial to alert the buyers so that they can alter their order quantity.

For instance, the purchase manager gets a specific budget (say $100) to order a quantity of goods. Presently, the manufacturer sells each unit at $10, so the buyer can avail of ten units ($100 budget / $10).

However, if the manufacturer increases the price from $10 to $20, the purchase manager will need to reduce the quantity from ten units to five units ($100 budget / $20). But if the manufacturer does not promptly inform the buyer about the price change, it could lead to disputes and damage their relationship.

Price changes are inevitable; to solve such issues, businesses use EDI 845 – the price authorization acknowledgment document. Vendors use it to communicate price changes to resellers. EDI 845 is used primarily in the pharmaceutical industry, but manufacturers and distributors also utilize it.

As your business operations scale, so does the volume of your EDI transactions. With greater volume, it can become challenging to avoid errors or spot missing fields. Popular EDI formats such as EDIFACT were not meant for humans to comprehend, and that is why spotting errors can be tricky.

Even if you somehow manage to do that, manual error inspection is time-consuming. Thereby, automating the error detection process can help you save time and increase your profit margins.

#6 Integration with your inventory management system

EDI should be flexible to adapt to your way of doing business instead of the other way around. The technical integration should allow you to use the formats that you prefer or commonly used by your trading partners.

Many businesses already use an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system or inventory management solution to gain insights into their business processes. Look for an EDI that also integrates with your existing system so that you can directly process the EDI orders.

Instead of manually pulling the documents from EDI and then feeding them into your inventory system, you can do this in real-time by integrating them together. This helps you meet increased customer expectations.

#7 Offering transparency

As the complexities of the supply chain rise, the need for transparency between trading partners is more important than ever.

The functionality of EDI has evolved over the years. What started as a means to improve the B2B transaction process has now evolved into a tool that provides better inventory management.

You can adopt some EDI transactions that provide inventory information to boost transparency. EDI 846 can provide information about inventory levels, and EDI 214 offers buyers shipping status notifications.

With the right system, you can share alerts and notifications with your trading partners. Offering transparency ensures that information is not siloed and helps everyone to be on the same page.

 

Wrapping up

We live in a period where the supply chain is constantly getting disrupted by various factors – be it pandemics or political factors. During such a period, investing in technology that can help optimize your supply chain – such as EDI – seems an obvious choice.

Implementing EDI can be beneficial as it streamlines your B2B transactions and provides much-needed transparency. Choosing the right EDI that integrates with your ERP can do wonders for your organization.

Vetting the best EDI is also vital as it contains sensitive information that can affect your business’s overall profitability.

To learn more about Cin7’s built-in EDI capabilities, request a demo.

Posted in EDI

Here’s how digitizing your supply chain can breathe new life into your business

Digitization has reached almost all aspects of businesses — including supply chains. New technology like embedded sensors, RFID, and GPS have helped companies transform their traditional supply chain structures into flexible, agile, open, and collaborative digital models.

In fact, according to a McKinsey survey, 93% of supply chain executives say they are actively planning to make their supply chains more resilient. And in this day and age, “resilient” means digital. Many companies are seeing the need to become more organized — and they’re doing that  by regionalizing their supplies and nearshoring their processes. This type of organization ensures products don’t have to travel long (and expensive) distances.

Either way, there’s no denying that digitizing supply chains will allow these companies to improve their agility, visibility, and efficiency. Digitization allows for organizational flexibility and accelerates innovation.

Now, let’s dive into the meaning of digital supply chain management, understand how it’s different from a traditional supply chain, and explore the benefits of supply chain digitization.

 

What is a digital supply chain?

In a traditional supply chain, companies need to source parts and raw materials to make their product. After they understand demand for their product, companies will then find the correct sales channels and use logistics to provide customers with visibility into their orders.

A digital supply chain, in contrast, offers significantly more visibility throughout the process. The integration and application of advanced digital technologies allows customers and stakeholders to monitor supply chain operations — from procurement data and inventory management, to distribution and transportation.

For example, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) asset tracking can offer instant updates on location, including when cargo is in transit. The main goal of supply chain digitization is to enable insight for greater efficiency. This, in turn, can cut down on redundancies and greatly increase profits.

Companies with digital supply chains can move their resources, assets, people, and inventory to where they need it at any given time. Digitization helps you reduce costs by giving you the ability to respond proactively to both transportation and manufacturing risks.

The potential payoffs of any fully-realized digital supply chain include saving time, money, and resources. It will allow your company to be less wasteful and more environmentally sustainable.

 

Traditional vs digital supply chains

Traditional supply chains work based on historical transactional inputs, while digital supply chains function in real-time. Digital supply chains are networks, while traditional supply chains are linear. Supply chain networks communicate almost instantaneously, whereas linear supply chains move slowly and inefficiently.

Digital supply chains are also more accurate. Information from operational technology and IT systems are integrated with digital supply chain management, while traditional supply chains rely on standalone systems. When companies go digital, they can more efficiently find potential problems and predict likely risks.

Traditional supply chains rely on humans to make nearly every decision. Digital supply chains, on the other hand, have built-in automated decisions that are monitored by humans. Because of this, digital supply chains are exponentially faster.

 

Why your supply chain should go digital

Digitization in supply chain management empowers planning, sourcing, and logistics teams to collaborate. It also allows those teams to automate processes and leverage analytics. This type of synergy among teams drives growth, mitigates risk, and optimizes costs. Here are some more supply chain digitization benefits:

More organizational flexibility

A digital operating model gives management more freedom and flexibility. For instance, what degree of centralization is needed to support specialization? How can you minimize process costs when you factor in local labor? How can your processes become more productive? With Digitization, you can answer these questions by analyzing data in multiple ways. And then you can be more flexible when implementing solutions.

Better decision making

Once you integrate your supply chain with digital technologies, you can also make faster and more informed decisions for each function. Digitization helps you measure performance accurately and efficiently by aggregating and organizing transactions. This, in turn, allows you to access information at both the micro and macro levels.

For example, BASF (a German multinational chemical corporation) uses AI and machine learning-based technologies to predict the optimal time to replenish supply when stock is running low. This type of automation leads to increased inventory visibility that supports smarter replenishment planning, more efficient decision-making, and better customer service.

Increased automation

An end-to-end digital platform can improve data accuracy, enhance efficiency, and increase supply chain efficiency by automating many labor-extensive processes. From determining the most appropriate shipping mode, implement smarter scheduling, and more — automation saves time and money.

Alerts can also be generated automatically, especially if purchase orders are in danger of delays or complications. This helps companies take precautionary measures and be prepared to handle customers who may have logistics-related complaints.

Accelerating innovation

All digital transformation processes inevitably lead to innovation. Why? When data becomes available, it’s much easier to see trends and inefficiencies. This improvement over conventional supply chain management helps to strengthen the company’s business model over time and builds stronger relationships with suppliers and customers.

End-to-end customer engagement

Digital transformation in supply chain management also increases customer engagement throughout their buying journey. For instance, when placing an order, digitization allows your customers to automatically stay updated with their order details. They know their order status all the way up to receiving it — thanks to the supplier’s automated tracking system. Here, digitization ensures that customers feel more secure and in control when buying.

For example, Farmer Connect uses Blockchain technology to connect coffee growers with the consumers they serve. By launching a mobile application, “Thank My Farmer,” they allow coffee lovers to trace the origin of their coffee and directly support the farmers who grow the beans. The app is a win-win for companies, workers, and customers. It connects the purchaser to traders, farmers, brands, and roasters.

 

Top trends for supply chain digitization

If you’re looking to improve your organizations overall productivity and performance, here are some supply chain trends you should try:

Integrate your eCommerce website

Integrating eCommerce helps provide a more seamless customer experience and makes your operation more efficient. Once again, the free flow of information across departments is key. Thus, companies immediately see the benefits of interconnected supply chains for eCommerce operations.

Utilize artificial intelligence (AI)

AI in the supply chain helps companies analyze data, enhance performance, and perform routine tasks. AI also helps supply chain leaders solve problems with increased visibility across networks that were previously disparate or remote.

Leverage the Internet of Things (IoT)

An IoT is a network of physical objects connected to the internet. The IoT already plays an important role in the supply chain, and it will gradually grow in importance with increasingly diverse applications. As a matter of fact, within a few years, up to 50% of companies could be using these advanced technologies to support supply chain operations.

IoT has the ability to improve fleet tracking, warehouse management, inventory control, and even technological and mechanical maintenance. Plus, imagine how “smart” warehouses and fleets might increase the accuracy and efficiency of multiple areas of the supply chain.

Integrate Blockchain

Blockchain can be greatly beneficial for businesses to minimize supply chain disruption and improve customer service. In fact, by 2024, global blockchain spending is expected to reach almost 19 billion U.S. dollars.

Blockchain has already helped integrate carriers, logistic providers, and shipping lines into a single platform. The transparency offered by blockchain technology helps to identify issues and cut out waste early in processes.

Create a supply chain digital twin

A digital twin is a model that  simulates the supply chain’s performance with AI and advanced analytics, and explores the complexities that show risks and vulnerabilities. Basically, it’s a virtual representation of the supply chain that consists of hundreds of warehouses, assets, inventory, and logistics positions.

Having a digital twin helps increase visibility. It also allows leaders to be more strategic and ready to take advantage of opportunities — especially in complex supply chains.

 

Five steps to digitize your supply chain

Transforming your traditional supply chain into a digital one is a complex process. However, it’s absolutely necessary to stay competitive. Here’s how to do it in five steps:

Step #1: Define your vision

The first step in implementing digital transformation in the supply chain is to define a clear vision and set some clear, attainable goals. These goals can be related to business objectives like faster decision making, improved supply chain visibility, and automated operations. When defining a vision, you need to:

  • Assess your resources and existing systems: Identify where you are, and see where you can improve. Do your existing systems use technology that supports your new goals? Can you Identify digital solutions that help you achieve desired business outcomes?
  • Access your current ability to analyze data: Can you currently collect, generate, and analyze data? If not, it may be hard to come away with actionable insights.
  • Access your workforce’s skills: Does your team have the necessary skills to work with and adapt to the new business model?

Step #2: Unify your processes

When you unify your processes into one system, you gain end-to-end supply chain visibility. That means you get enhanced transparency to streamline core functions including warehouse management, inventory management, logistics, demand forecasting, and more.

Step #3: Automate as much as possible

Wherever you can, you should replace recurring or routine tasks with automated processes. Not only does it help you simplify tasks, it also allows you to derive meaning from large volumes of data. Make sure not to automate processes that include complex situations or require collaboration between planners — but look at each part of your business and see what can be automated.

#4. Leverage data and analytics

Supply chain leaders need access to real-time data to make more informed decisions. Access to data and analytics helps you deal effectively with partners, suppliers, and your workforce. Real-time data also helps you identify potential disruptions and greatly increases visibility across the supply chain.

You can use AI-powered analytical tools for improving planning processes and drawing actionable insights. For example, using analytics, you can help prevent stock from being depleted completely and adjust your inventory accordingly.

#5. Align your people with your processes

Even if you are looking to shift to a digital supply chain, the switch would be worthless unless your team members are aligned with your new techniques and processes. Always make sure your shift integrates technologies with people, processes, and management. Without full integration, teams won’t be able to achieve your desired results with your new business model.

 

Allow Cin7 to help with your digital transformation

The quickly evolving technological landscape and increasing customer expectations are causing organizations to revisit how they do business. Adapting new technologies and integrating your supply chain leads to greater flexibility, efficiency and resilience.

For businesses re-evaluating their supply chains, now’s the time for action. Supply chain digital transformation isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth it. If you have any questions about digitizing your supply chain, get in touch with Cin7 today and we’d be happy to assist you on your digital transformation journey.