Who should read this:
Small to medium sized businesses that hold inventory and are looking to implement a barcode stock control system to remove the manual process, enabling them to quickly and efficiently know what inventory they have where.
As we visit many small and medium businesses each week, we are seeing those with revenues of £1m - £5m investing in a stock control system using barcoding. Many systems on the market are either too big enterprise scale or too small without the capability to scale as the business grows. Getting that cost right from the start is critical as well as a few other steps listed below.
SMB's often want a stock control system to run alongside their Sage accounting software.
Sage Line 50 is a popular accounting software for SMB's and integrates with our stock control system
Top 5 tips for putting in your first stock control system
1. Gather all the paper to check current process and see if this needs changing.
This includes reports. Nearly all paper can be eliminated. Here are some examples of paper documents that can be moved to electronic format in the warehouse:
>> Goods received
>> Manual case number sheet
>> Pick list
>> Location card
>> Stock sheet
>> Variance report
2. Work out if you need to have serial numbers for traceability.
This is critical in food and beverage, pharmaceutical and electrical items. Many companies also use this for higher value items in order to accurately track returns and warranty. Below is an example of a serialised barcode, complying to GS1 standards:
3. Ensure the system is simple enough for you to self-administer, so that you do not have to pay the supplier each time you want to change something in the warehouse management system.
Having a stock control system that you can edit things like users and roles will enable to self-administer.
It must also be scalable if you have the ambition to grow. It should also be capable of continuing uninterrupted if your host system changes (host system being Sage for example).
Examples of some parts that should be self-administering if not imported from the host system:
>> Users, roles & permissions
>> Product lists
>> Suppliers and customers
>> Warehouse locations
>> Reporting customisation down to user level
4. Selecting the right hardware.
A stable wireless will save you money over time as you will always have 'uptime' and not have to pay maintenance engineers to come and fix it. We recommend putting the wireless network in 2 weeks before the software and mobile computer installation, helping to isolate issues should they occur.
The handheld must be rugged enough for the environment, otherwise you are tricking yourself paying a couple hundred of pounds less up front. A good system should last you 5 years if you go for a rugged handheld computer from the start.
Rugged handheld computer
5. Take it in phases. Taking a stock control system in phases will increase user acceptance, allow you to deploy more quickly and spread the implementation costs.
Typical phase one: Simple scan, scan out
Phase one benefits:
>> Know exactly what stock is where
>> Traceability on all warehouse movements
>> Accurate stock figure to share with core system and/or website
Typical phase two: Order picking and seamless integration
Phase two benefits:
>> Barcode scan to verify correct items are picked for orders - no more mispicks.
>> Integrate more closely with core system and/or website to import/export sales orders and purchase orders.