If you use the internet in 2017, it’s likely that you use cloud computing in some capacity. Everything from social media to Adobe Photoshop now syncs with the cloud, which makes it easy to post photos, communicate, and do business around the world.
That’s why it’s no surprise that businesses are increasingly moving the bulk of their operations to the cloud. Including their inventory management.
For some businesses, the words “automated inventory management” are still unfamiliar. A whopping 43 percent of businesses either don’t track their inventory at all or use manual processes to do so.
These businesses are more likely than not to find themselves overwhelmed by the carrying costs of inventory, or up to their ears in unsold product that they can’t unload.
Meanwhile, according to GetData research, 55 percent of small and medium business owners say that inventory management software saves them more than five hours each week, with 16 percent of all respondents saying they save more than a day. Imagine if you had an extra hour a day, or even an extra day a week, to get work done?
This is no surprise: Automated inventory management takes the busy work out of managing your stock, reduces the manual errors that humans are bound to make, keeps you updated with intelligence reports and historical trends, and much more.
But now that inventory management can be controlled with the Cloud, the benefits are starting to rack up. Here’s a list of just a few things that using a cloud-based inventory management system can help you do:
Update your inventory from anywhere
The main claim to the cloud’s fame is that it can be accessed from anywhere that a user has an internet connection. The same holds true here.
If you have multiple locations, sites, offices, and/or warehouses, you can update your records from any of these places. That means if your warehouse is across the country (or even state, or city), you don’t need to place a phone call to ask your employees to update records. Any changes they make—by scanning an item’s barcode, for example—will be reflected instantly on your end as well.
This can also come in handy if you’re on the road, selling your inventory from a trade show or farmer’s market. It also means the workaholics among us can check inventory reports while on vacation. Even if you’re on the beach in Mexico, you can run a report (assuming that beach has WiFi—which, if it’s a good beach, it won’t, but you get the idea).
Another perk is that the cloud is accessible from any Android or iOS device, so you can check inventory and then go right back to streaming Spotify or Snapchatting.
Where is my inventory? That’s a question business owners never want to ask themselves.
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There are many reasons why inventory might be missing or be unaccounted for. Employee theft or loss is one explanation; inefficiencies and mistakes along your supply chain is another. And when inventory goes missing, you’re much more likely to disappoint a potential customer by overselling them a product that you can’t deliver.
Cloud-based inventory systems track inventory across all of your channels, from your brick-and-mortar location to your online store to your page on Shopify, Etsy, or Amazon Marketplace. Any orders from those channels will be reflected in your overall inventory levels, keeping you informed of any shortages, spikes in demand, or errors.
In a world where smart businesses are diversified across a number of channels, manual updates of stock levels are about as efficient as guesswork, and just as costly.
Create real-time, custom inventory reports
If you want to see how a certain product is selling, or where it’s selling best, or how it’s selling on a third-party platform as opposed to your own, and you want that information right away—you’ve got it. You can create your own reports, set a schedule for reports to be delivered to employees at certain intervals via email, set notifications for certain benchmarks or dilemmas, and overall stay informed of how product is moving.
Integrate with other cloud-based solutions
It feels likely, in this day and age, that your business already utilizes other cloud-based solutions to help keep things moving. Maybe that’s Google Drive, Dropbox, or Amazon Simple Storage Service. Either way, the addition of cloud-based inventory software should integrate seamlessly with the rest of your tools.
In fact, it should be as easing as just flipping to another tab to manage things across different solutions, rather than closing and opening separate programs located on your computer.
Yes, this is a big “reason,” but it holds true. Cloud-based solutions take a lot of the worrying out of running a business.
All your data and documents no longer have to be backed up on your hard drive or an external hard drive. Once you make your changes, they’re saved. No accidents, mishaps, or mistakes will leave you without your valuable information.
Security is another big concern for businesses, especially in an era when hacking and phishing attacks affect everyone from private businesses to our own government (last year, half of all small businesses were reportedly breached). Offset the responsibility of securing your supply chain logistics with a third-party platform and rest easy knowing it’s safe.
If you want to be able to update your inventory levels and channels from anywhere, maintain full knowledge of your supply chain, create custom reports and notifications, integrate with other applications, and, most importantly of all, stop worrying so much, a migration to the cloud might be the right call for your inventory management software.
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Author: Paul Trujillo