How to Make Real-Time Inventory Management Part of Your Food Distribution Business Strategy?
As those of you who are in the food business industry must be aware, real-time inventory management can be an essential element of your strategy. Real-time management is the process that uses custom hardware like inventory software, as well as other relevant tools, bar-code scanners, and the comprehensive inventory management software that works in conjunction, to record in real-time all inventory-related activities. These activities could include transactions like receiving, picking, moving, cross-docking, delivery, and shipping of raw materials and finished food products. Other activities could include processing orders, purchases, sales, and transfers in a digital inventory system.
Real-time inventory management can add many benefits to your overall food business strategy and allow you to plan in detail. You can not only plan your warehouse capacity, waste minimization, pricing changes but also go a step further to look at historical data to plot trends over a period to become proactive rather than reactive. However, you must remember that warehouse scanning is a significant aspect of real-time inventory management and give due importance to the same. Managing inventory in real-time would only be possible if you can do away with or at least minimize paper-based transactions involving manual data entry. If every task in the warehouse requires a person to carry paper around and keep updating records, then it would mean a lot of work, and the chances that updates are not in real-time and with an increased probability of errors occurring.
Here are some of the main benefits that you can realize when you include real-time inventory management as part of your food business strategy:
- Meet delivery schedules: Real-time inventory is the logical place to start if you are planning the delivery schedules for your food business. The inventory gives you an overall picture of how much inventory is available as against the deliveries you have promised. You can accordingly plan on the sourcing and ensure that your delivery schedules are completed
- Minimize first expired stocks: In the food business, expiry dates are one of the aspects that you need to be completely cognizant of. The expiry dates not only help you with quality control and meeting compliance requirements, but they also help you prioritize sales. For instance, you would sell or deliver the soon-to-expire lot sooner and keep the ones that have a more extended expiry date for sale or delivery later.
- Manage current inventory levels: inventory management can offer you a condensed view of the current cost of the inventory you are carrying, the sales potential, and clear picture of how the stock is dated in terms of aging. As a consequence, you can plan sales in a more relevant and specific way to outline the process ahead of time.
- Means of storage and planning: Another significant aspect of inventory management is also that of storage. In the food industry, it is very likely that you need different types of storage like temperature-controlled units (refrigeration units or freezers) or other specifications and you need to take stock of the inventory of all the goods to be able to plan accordingly.
What is more, if your business is spread of over several locations, then the logistical planning aspect also comes into play. Real-time inventory management can help you with that aspect of it and help you save on manpower, time, money, and other resources. You can tweak sales requirement and manage finances when you have the details of the value of current inventory, the margin, the spread of items across locations, how much of each item at a particular area in terms of quantity and warehouse space details.
Want to learn more about how our solutions help customers in the food business? Read the below case study of a produce distributor D’Arrigo Brothers, who with the help of To-Increase Food Manufacturing & Distribution solution, gained unprecedented levels of business control and customer responsiveness.