7 Signs It’s Time to Implement an Inventory Planning System

Are your old-school inventory processes holding back your business growth?

The digital world is evolving quicker than ever, and competition is fierce; without a progressive inventory planning tool in place, you could be missing out on big gains – in staff time, investable funds, efficiency, customer satisfaction and cash flow.

If you’re experiencing any of the following inventory nightmare scenarios, take this article as a sign to implement an inventory planning system such as Inventory Planner by Sage, and watch your business take off as a result. 

1. You’re seeing too many stock-outs

Arguably one of the clearest reasons for a new inventory planning system is if you’re experiencing frequent stock-outs. Going out of stock of your best-sellers is one of the sharpest routes to revenue loss, and can be hugely detrimental to brand reputation. As your customers get frustrated by not being able to get their hands on the products you’re pushing, they’ll find them somewhere else, and will unlikely come back.

An inventory planning tool such as Inventory Planner can nip this in the bud – by offering data-led forecasting, reliable purchasing recommendations and stockout warnings that will notify you well in advance of your best selling items running out. With prior notifications, you can purchase exactly the right amount of stock ahead of time to keep your customers satisfied.

2. Excess items are cash blockers

On the other side of the ‘imbalanced inventory’ coin, having too many of the products that won’t sell is similarly corrosive to your bottom line. Not only are these items not bringing in revenue, the holding costs required to store them as they slowly gather dust, expire or go out of date, will be completely blocking your cash flow.

Inventory should be the ever-turning wheel at the centre of your retail business, and blockers to cash flow can completely halt operations. With the full inventory visibility and insights an inventory planning system provides, you’ll be able to easily identify where your inventory is clogged with non-sellers, calculate how much cash you could be saving, and either promote them, discount them or liquidate them – making space and releasing cash that is better invested elsewhere. 

3. You lack the ability to accurately forecast demand

Sales demand can be predictable (due to seasons, events and so on) but as we’ve seen in recent years, unprecedented demand can rock a business to its core. Though there’s no way of predicting every sudden change, you can use technology to quickly adapt. An effective inventory planning tool should factor in both historic data and other, less predictable variables – so you can trust that the purchasing recommendations you receive are as accurate as they can be.

Inventory Planner offers sales forecasts while factoring in not only historic data but seasonal shifts, microtrends, suppliers and changing lead times. You can also customise the historic sales period your forecasts are calculated from, and set it to predict demand more frequently.

4. Your staff are wasting time on manual inventory processes

As you scale, and, if your inventory grows, unmonitored, it can become a monster – a huge mass of product data that’s near impossible to track. Though human staff may try, none can be expected to monitor every single item to variant level and regularly predict sales without making a few errors, using a lot of hours in the process.

Inventory metrics such as potential revenue loss from sell-outs, product expiration dates, inventory by warehouse location and the multiple facets of sales forecasting are also too complicated to work out manually.

For this reason, migrating from spreadsheets to a smart, technology-backed system will transform manual inventory processes from a hard slog to a breeze. Rest assured, your purchasing team will thank you when instead of poring over reams of muddled data, they’re working from data-backed purchasing recommendations instead. 

5. There’s no real-time visibility into inventory levels and performance

Another drawback to an old school inventory system is it’s often only updated when you or your team update it – whether that’s daily, weekly or even less often. Without trust that the data is up-to-date, how can it be of use?

Real-time visibility is an absolute game changer for your entire team’s workflows – your purchasing staff, accounting and finance departments, warehouse team, marketing team and more. With the use of a decent inventory planning tool, inventory insights will swiftly update in real-time, so you know the data you’re working from are current, accurate and integrated with all parts of the business. 

6. Your inventory isn’t well integrated with the other tech in your ecosystem

Connectivity is a key attribute to a flexible, scalable retail business – and with so many modern-day e-commerce apps built to swiftly sync with each other, you’ll be suffering a business black spot if your clunky inventory won’t easily connect alongside them.

A progressive inventory planning tool like Inventory Planner easily integrates with the other tech you run your business with – the likes of Shopify Plus, Shipstation, Amazon, etc. – with the goal to build a fully connected business in which your workflows are aligned and synced, end-to-end.

7. Reporting is superficial or limited

When your business reaches a certain point of growth, moving forward relies on harnessing data to make informed, targeted decisions. Having no means for in-depth inventory reporting or analysis will have you fumbling around blind for what you should do next.

Inventory planning software unlocks streams of useful data points for you to monitor and analyse your products in a true and informed way. Inventory Planner by Sage, for instance, offers full inventory visibility right down to variant level (such as color, size, style and location). It also offers over 200 metrics, so you and your teams can create custom reports and work to personalized KPIs that align with your combined growth goals.

With this multi-levelled inventory intelligence, departments across your entire staff will be equipped to make quick, super-informed decisions surrounding inventory and have the evidence to back it up.

Ready to uplevel your retail business with a smart inventory planning system? Inventory Planner by Sage offers data-led forecasting, reliable purchasing recommendations and in-depth inventory insights that will equip you with the knowledge to transform inventory and grow your business. Book a demo with Inventory Planner.