In my line of work, I meet a lot of retailers frustrated with the challenges of making smarter business decisions in real time. Leveraging sales data is critical to building a better business, but can drain smaller organizations of valuable time and resources better spent elsewhere. Luckily, there are emerging, advanced inventory management solutions taking the guesswork and hassle out that challenge. These automated systems capture and convey all the components you need to in turn move beyond brick-and-mortar operations, introducing new sales channels that preserve cash flow, improve the customer experience and reconcile products across all of those new payments channels.
Here are five ways inventory management can help you build a better business:
Finally Start Expanding
Modern in-app inventory management solutions can let you track, manage and replenish stock right from your mobile device. This means small business owners no longer need to be in the shop to run it. Mobile tracking means even businesses with limited staff and support can expand their locations and operations. The owner of a local winery doesn’t have to shuttle back and forth between his store and the neighborhood farmer’s market to make sure both locations are well-stocked, and a florist on-site at the weekend craft fair doesn’t have to call the shop for sales updates. All of that information and more is accessible right in your back pocket
Never Run out of Stock
Inventory management solutions can allow you to set thresholds for your products, automatically notifying you when you’re low on stock and need to replenish. This means you no longer need to waste hours or manpower counting, re-ordering and re-filling stock. Those are time and resources better spent serving the customer or expanding your operations, two things that are even more precious for small businesses with limited staffing. Notifications can be delivered via text message or email so you don’t need to be in the store to know how your stock is doing. Inventory can even be transferred across locations and channels, removing some of the physical barriers to running a business that slow down operations.
Access Real-Time Sales Data
Robust inventory management systems deliver actionable sales data. Review your sales by time (day, week, month, quarter and year), by type (card sales, cash sales and refunds), by location (stores and channels) and even by employee. Imagine the time and patience it would take to gather and sort all this information manually! Through inventory management, you can customize the information you want and need so that it is delivered in an easy-to-digest format. Small business owners can even access that data in real time to resolve any operational issues immediately.
Sell Across Channels
Customers want control over the way they pay, especially through new mediums. Inventory management can be your stepping stone to becoming an omnichannel business: selling in-store, online and via mobile. If you’re new to e-commerce or mobile payments, inventory management can help you integrate omnichannel more easily and quickly. Not only can you transfer stock across locations, but inventory management can also help you transfer transactions across channels. For example, an end table purchased through a furniture shop’s online store could be returned to the physical location without disrupting sales.
Make Smarter Business Decisions
The most powerful impact inventory management can have on small businesses is to make them smarter. All of the data collected through your inventory management system can be leveraged to more effectively manage your operations and staff. For example, convenience store owners can apply sales data to their merchandising strategies and promote more popular snacks or allocate floor space accordingly. Even incentivizing and managing employees becomes easier when you can track their performance. Business owners with multiple locations can dedicate more time and attention to the branches that are underperforming and more effectively budget resources. The applications and possibilities are endless.
Properly managed inventory touches all areas of your business. Using the right tools and solutions to take the guesswork and friction points out of running a multi-channel, multi-location business can drive customer engagement, increase sales and lead to happier employees. If you haven’t already, consider how inventory management can help you build a better business today.
Greg Constantine is EVP Client Operations for SecureNet, a payments platform processing billions in transactions annually. In 2014 SecureNet launched Inventory Management, the first mobile and e-commerce framework integrating real-time inventory monitoring across all locations and channels. It was named Best in Biz Awards’ Best New Product and Best Technology at the Greater Austin Business Awards.