The immediacy of e-commerce requires distribution companies to deliver almost instantaneously. The logistics chain evolves accordingly. It must secure the goods, monitor deliveries and even anticipate needs. New technologies meet these requirements: an overview.
The supply chain has become a major issue for distribution companies, in particular retail specialists. Whatever their size, inventory management has a strong impact on their profitability, which can be measured at two levels.
First of all, the resources mobilized. Avoiding double handling and seizures, optimizing the available space, not unnecessarily increasing the number of workstations results in an increase in productivity and (very) significantly reduces logistics costs.
ERP, essential and proven
A more recent study conducted in 2018 by Sapio Research indicates that 62% of professionals do not have real-time data on product availability. 72% also say they cannot notify their customers in the event of an order or delivery problem.
ERPs and their inventory management modules are the basic solution to these problems. They automate certain processes in the logistics chain: supplies, stock movements, batch management or expiration date, etc.
They also make it possible to communicate with suppliers or transport providers, thanks to perfectly synchronized inter-system information exchanges.
The Internet of Things, a suitable choice for large warehouses
To improve such a Supply Chain process, the company can set up real-time tracking via IoT or Internet of Things. No more human intervention here, localization is done automatically by combining recognition technologies (Bluetooth, video player) with sensors (RFID chips, GS-1 bar codes).
The information returned live is broad: place of manufacture and date of dispatch; time of transport; storage rack, bin or container; temperature and humidity. They enrich traditional inventory management with alert possibilities, in the case of a cold room for example.
This internet monitoring makes it possible to coordinate flows and can replace physical inventories. It appears to be well suited to large warehouses, such as hubs, or companies with a large network of local warehouses. Investing in the Internet of Things, however, remains significant for now.
Artificial intelligence, a control and recommendation tool
Little by little, AI is also building its warehouse. All kinds of data exist on incoming and outgoing goods, they can be collected and analyzed. From this “Big Data”, it is possible to limit certain daily tasks inherent in inventory management. Example of the simplifications brought about by well-configured AI software? Automatic anticipation of orders (depending on a sales campaign, season, sales, etc.) or the resources needed to cope with peaks in activity.
These systems also provide reports on the reliability of forecasts and the breakdown of sales. At the crossroads of logistics data and CRM data, they are an additional decision support tool to anticipate future consumer demands and eventual business growth.
Cloud management: simple and shared
Cloud based inventory management software packages are the latest alternative in this inventory management revolution. Shared, simple and efficient, they are particularly suitable for VSEs and SMEs operating in a network, or subcontracting the storage of their goods. They give them access to a dignified digital service approaching that of major industries, at a lower cost.
Mobile par excellence, these solutions allow inventory management anywhere, anytime. They can be multilingual. International teams can thus work instantly from a tablet by sharing Excel files in Google Sheets, for example.
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