If you want to know how well a company is run, check out its warehouse. Marketers and PR people can make sales and raw figures look any way they want, but a warehouse tells the real story. That’s because every company is only as good as the inventory it keeps and the way it handles its product as it goes out to customers. Inventory management affects customer service to the bottom line and everything in between.
So why then is it so often overlooked when it comes to business intelligence software? Many bundles focus on just about everything else, but they don’t integrate inventory and stock levels into the equation. Ignoring this area of business is a huge blind spot and that’s why more and more BI consultants are getting back to basics.
For a long time, the only time inventory management and business intelligence were linked was when people would illustrate how you could make better inventory decisions using BI. While this is a valid point, inventory and warehouse management also play a critical role in the development of Business Intelligence and, by extension, of ERP.
Feeding inventory levels and warehouse turn-around times for products into the data that makes up business intelligence gives a whole new insight into purchasing, marketing and ultimately sales and service. Understanding the trends of specific products can improve storage and shelving in the warehouse, ultimately speeding up picking, pulling and shipping. Alternatively, identifying products that tend to linger in storage can improve purchasing plans or offer ideas for marketing campaigns.
Ecommerce inventory management is often more dynamic and complex than traditional inventory management. This is due not only to more vendors and sources being available, but also to the demands of warehouse management for a smaller business. Space is always at a premium and so stock levels and storage issues can impact sales and service more acutely than ever before. That’s why inventory control is not only a department that can be helped with BI, but it’s also a part of business that simply must be included in its development.