Real time inventory is where the inventory management software is updated live at the point of activity. This is different to traditional inventory data that is updated by manually entering inventory changes away from the point of activity. In other words, real time inventory is up to the second live figures and not stored up and then transferred late.
In any warehouse process that uses pen and paper to record actions before manually entering the changes, there is a time lag between when the action occurs and it being recognised in the inventory software. Many companies use a 10 minute delay. This is no longer required as technology is ready to operate instantly.
To get real time inventory data, the function that is performed must update the inventory software instantly. This can be performed through the use of a mobile computer (sometimes called handheld terminal) that is linked via a wireless local area network (also known as hub or wireless router) to the inventory management software.
These systems utilise barcoding to speed up data entry and remove the errors that come from manual data entry.
Real time inventory operational benefits:
>> Accurate live stock data.
>> Removal of manual data entry and process duplication which often creates errors.
>> Saving in travel time as warehouse operative does not need to go from where the warehouse function is performed to the fixed computer to enter in the transaction.
>> Mis-picks can be eliminated as the system can recognise if a wrong item has been picked and alert the user.
Real time inventory sales and purchasing benefits:
The benefits of real time inventory are also felt by sales people. With web based real time inventory software, sales people can log in and view the warehouse inventory levels in ‘real time’ and up to 99.99% accurate. This means they can give their customers accurate information on when goods can be delivered, improving their buying experience.
Purchasing managers that are on the road benefit from getting real time inventory they can accurately see which products need reordering and can trust in the real time inventory data to make buying decisions.
Real time inventory e-commerce benefits:
E-commerce retailers can use real time inventory to keep the stock figures online 99.99% accurate. Real time inventory software has the capability to speak to an e-commerce front end via the content management system (CMS - such as Kentico or Magento) and update and adjust stock information based on the transactions in the warehouse.
Providing their customers with accurate stock data helps e-commerce companies to manage their customers' expectations and will likely improve customer satisfaction levels.
Author: Oliver Rhodes