When running a business, much time is spent on driving sales and producing products. Though potentially less glamorous, the process of getting sold inventory out of your warehouse and into your customers’ hands is just as important. Surprisingly, the tools and workflows for this end of the transaction are often neglected and less efficient.
Let’s dive into a few ways to level up your warehouse-to-customer game.
Managing Your Inventory
First things first: Inventory Management. Before shipping logistics come into play, understanding exactly where your products are and how many you have is essential.
As your special widget gets produced and placed into inventory, you’ll need a clear view on not only how many were manufactured but also what the end costs of goods are. While this information is helpful when considering pricing adjustments, it’s also a great way to come across red flags during the production process. Accounting for the complete loop of the item’s production cycle can help identify areas of inefficiency and, sometimes, waste.
To do so, you will want to track inventory in a very detailed manner, specifically by warehouse, bin, lot, and serial number, to name a few. These methods help track general inventory sums but also point you in the right direction in the unfortunate event there are product recalls or similar necessary.
In some cases, you may also have the need to track container or consignment inventory.
If your business is within the food industry, as one example, accurately tracking your inventory may simply be a compliance requirement. Getting this wrong could result in fines, revoked licenses or worse.
When looking at these needs across multiple warehouses or, most applicable lately, sharing information with remote team members, it becomes necessary to find a software solution that is cloud-based.
Within the warehouses themselves, implementing a solution that supports mobile devices, barcode scanners, and the like are equally essential. This also introduces significant efficiencies through saved time and increased accuracy.
To properly meld these inventory needs with your existing teams, you will want to explore a Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution that fits your business. This will tie in the needs of the warehouse with the folks in accounting, operations, sales & marketing, the executive team, and others. This omnidirectional data exchange helps the warehouse to know what’s coming their way while letting the rest of the company see what’s being produced and heading out the door.
Solutions such as GoldFinch ERP are designed to handle these functions with ease and grace. Moreover, the implementation of ERP into your business has never been easier. Onboarding can be fairly painless and going live can happen more quickly than you realize.
Now, let’s talk a bit about shipping and tracking.
Shipping Your Products
As your business matured, you have likely outgrown the ability to print a shipping label off the carrier’s website and call it a day. At this stage, your business needs to know where the shipped items are and how soon they will arrive at each destination. In addition, your customers expect this level of transparency with each transaction.
Given the quantity and frequency of label printing, it’s important to utilize a solution that supports bulk label generation. The faster you can label your shipments, the faster they’re out the door.
With various carrier options at your disposal, you need to use a system that can calculate rates of each shipment, identify the best rates values, and add the shipping cost line items to your orders.
When you have tracking and logistics costs for a specific shipment, it’s necessary to update your orders and trigger invoicing and payment collection without delay. To support this, you will need a shipping solution that integrates tightly with your ERP system.
As we all know, returned products are a part of business. Eliminating pain points for you, the business owner, as well as the customer should be a top priority. Look for shipping platforms that support self-service returns with automated tracking. Allowing your customers to initiate and complete the return process saves time and creates an impressive 24/7 customer service experience that they have come to expect.
For shipping and tracking, check out Zenkraft’s solution. It’s cloud-based, includes the functions mentioned above (and then some!), and integrates with both GoldFinch ERP and Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
In summary, leveraging a tool like ERP can help your business operate more smoothly, efficiently, and create a more joyful customer experience. If keeping your customer happy also results in streamlined production and a healthier bottom line, this is something you need to explore immediately.
To learn more about how ERP can help with inventory and shipping in your business, Contact Us today.