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Inventory Management Tools: How Online Business Logistics Issues Get Solved

As small businesses move into virtual and dual retail models, keeping up with product status and movement can be difficult. Common do-it-yourself inventory-management tools like spreadsheets can require numerous labor hours to keep up with constant changes. Manual data entry also leads to inevitable accuracy problems with inventory reports. Instant access to inventory data can keep back order and shipping issues from occurring, increasing customer satisfaction and revenue for your business.

 Balancing Virtual Sales with Physical Inventory

 Small businesses are reaching out to an expanding customer base through the Internet, but many retain one or more physical locations. As inventories, supply chains, and order fulfillments become increasingly complex, merging traditional inventory management tools with automated data entry can help reduce errors that result in costly overstock, back orders, refunds, and customer service issues. Using bar code readers to keep track of products and inventory decreases the chance of manual entry errors and increases productivity throughout the process. Keeping a single master inventory database that is updated in real time allows all systems and employees to provide accurate information drand point-of-sale service.

Working in the Cloud

 Common solutions to online inventory issues include the use of cloud-based or cloud-compatible business logistics tools. Instead of calling from one store to another, employees can look up inventory online, arrange for a product transfer, or drop-ship to a customer location. E-commerce solutions can be linked to the same database, allowing virtual systems and physical employees to work in cooperation. Additional benefits of cloud-based inventory management tools include:

  • Secure collection and dissemination of data 
  • Flexible access limitations that allow owners to control what functionality each employee can use
  • Redundant backup options in case local data is destroyed
  • A convenient link between product databases and shipping functions

Cost of Online Logistic Solutions

 Business logistics solutions might sound expensive, but small business owners who are willing to spend some time in creative planning can find affordable tools. Coupling inventory management tools with accounting software that you already use is cost effective and a smart use of resources. Even if you add accounting software such as QuickBooks, which can cost between $200 and $400, or subscribe to an online inventory service, which starts around $20 per month, you can realize significant savings through better product management. Inventory management tools can reduce costs by: 

  • Providing trending reports that allow business owners to make better pricing and purchasing decisions
  • Helping owners spot inventory bottlenecks and release cash tied up in overstocked items
  • Reducing costs associated with inventory staff hours

Inventory Tools Are a Good Business Investment

Return on investment is a key consideration for business owners who are considering any type of process change or upgrade. For a small business that might be starting out or experiencing cash flow problems, immediate return is necessary for almost any expense.

 When used properly, inventory management tools can provide a return by reducing overhead, increasing profits, and decreasing error rates, making them a good investment for any small business. With such useful inventory management tools to work with, you'll find them a great investment for your business. ?

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