Say goodbye to stockouts with automated inventory management

Automated inventory management systems can stop stockouts from occurring without you breaking a sweat. Here are 8 features you need to keep an eye open for when looking for your own systems.

Automated inventory management can help you always keep track of your inventory levels.
Last updated: 18.07.2022

Managing inventory is an essential part of any business that has to deal with a lot of stock.

But doing it manually is time-consuming, error-prone, and can lead to inaccurate data. Below we explore how manufacturers can automate the process by taking advantage of an inventory management system.

More profits and less worries with automated inventory management

Katana manufacturing ERP software gives you all the tools you need to automate your entire workflow, from purchases to production, to sales and beyond.
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Katana Shop Floor App’s quality control - ensure that products meet specifications.

Where manual inventory management goes wrong 

With manual inventory management, businesses have to rely on employees to keep track of their:   

  • Stock levels   
  • Related sales   
  • Financial data   
  • Supply chain activity   

This is often done by an Excel spreadsheet or relying on pen and paper. This means that employees have to periodically count all their stock and then update the values on the spreadsheet. What’s more, employees have to manually input data about what’s been sold and what needs to be restocked.  

Inaccurate stock levels 

The main downside of this system is that it’s error-prone — it’s all based on manual input, and there’s a greater chance of human error.  

This problem is further magnified if the business deals with multiple sales channels since each channel will likely have its system for tracking inventory. So, if an employee makes a mistake when inputting data into one system, it can also cause problems with the other systems.  

These small mistakes inevitably lead to inaccurate inventory levels, leading to stockouts and lost sales. When inventory data isn’t accurately represented, it causes a domino effect of inefficiencies throughout the business and can result in costly mistakes.  

Lost sales 

If you’ve ever ordered something to get an email two days later saying it’s out of stock, you know how frustrating this can be.  

Most likely, that was the last time you shopped with that company, which means that the business lost a sale and a customer.  

Wasted time 

Manual stock management is also very time-consuming.  

Employees have to spend time inputting data and cross-referencing it to ensure its accuracy. This system is also reactive rather than proactive — businesses only find out about stock levels when they run out of something or do a new stock take. Luckily, a software solution automates these tasks and reduces human errors. Let’s take a look at what it is and how it works.  

To effectively use modern methods of inventory management, businesses need accurate and up-to-date records of their stock, where it is located, and how much it is worth.

What is an automated inventory management system? 

An automated inventory management system is a tool that helps businesses keep track of their stock levels automatically with minimal human intervention.  

It’s a proactive system that can help businesses avoid: 

  • Stockouts  
  • Lost sales  
  • Frustrated customers  

This is done by using inventory management software that tracks stock levels in real-time across all sales channels. This means that businesses always have an accurate picture of their stock levels and can make informed decisions about restocking.  

Advantages of inventory automation 

While using spreadsheets is free, there are hidden costs involved.  

These hidden costs quickly add up and soon outweigh the benefits of using a free system. Certain small manufacturers may be able to get their stock managed manually, but growing businesses will quickly start to feel the strain. This is when it makes sense to automate your inventory management. 

There are many benefits when automating your inventory management.  

Let’s take a look at some of the most impactful ones. 

Increased accuracy 

One of the biggest benefits of an automated inventory system is that it improves accuracy.  

This is because businesses no longer have to rely on manual input. Instead of manual data entry by workers, multichannel inventory software offers real-time tracking across all sales channels and locations and automatically updates information. 

Improved efficiency 

An automated inventory control system is much more efficient than manual methods.  

Since employees no longer need to fix spreadsheets, they have more time to focus on other tasks. And with a system keeping track of inventory levels, stock takes don’t need to be done as frequently.  

Improved decision-making 

You can make informed decisions about when to restock with accurate inventory information. 

This helps to avoid stockouts and ensures that there is enough inventory to fulfill every order. Moreover, you can also set reorder points with inventory software. So, when inventory reaches a certain level, you will be notified and can restock before you run out of products.  

Reduced costs 

Keeping stock levels optimal can save a lot on warehousing carrying costs. Businesses only need to hold enough stock to meet customer demand rather than overstocking, which can tie up valuable capital.  

Improved customer satisfaction 

Accurate inventory data helps you maintain inventory levels based on fluctuating demand.  

As a result, businesses can significantly improve lead time and fulfill orders as soon as possible. This leads to happy customers who are more likely to return and shop again.  

Simplified scaling 

As businesses grow, their inventory requirements will change.  

With an automated system in place, it’s easy to make changes and ensure that the system can still cope with the demands of a growing business.  

Greater visibility 

Automated inventory management provides businesses with complete visibility of their stock levels. This means you can see what’s selling well and what’s not and make informed decisions about where to allocate your resources.  

Automating these error-prone laborious tasks can free up your time and your employees’ time and increase accuracy and efficiency throughout the entire product lifecycle.  

Getting the insights you need when you need them is the key to staying profitable in an increasingly competitive marketplace.  

Inventory management methods are the process of ensuring that businesses have adequate stock levels to meet customer demand.

8 key features to look for in automated inventory software 

The benefits are numerous.  

But before you start deleting all your Excel spreadsheets, let’s see some of the more important features you should look out for as a manufacturer. 

1. Track multiple warehouses 

If you have more than one warehouse, then you need software that can keep track of them all in one place. This way, you can see at a glance which warehouse has the products you need and can make informed decisions about where to source them from. 

2. Scan barcodes 

If you want to speed up the inventory management process, then barcode scanners are a must. This means you can just scan the items as they come into the warehouse, and the ERP system will update the stock levels automatically. 

3. Set reorder points 

As we mentioned before, setting reorder points is a great way to avoid stockouts. Look for software that allows you to set notifications for each item, so you can restock before you run out. 

4. Seamlessly integrate with other apps 

Most likely, you’re already using certain apps to run your business.  

These may include:  

  • Accounting tools  
  • E-commerce platforms  
  • Automation software  

It’s important to choose inventory management software that can integrate with these.  

Look for an automation software that helps you manage all business operations. Implementing process automation helps you integrate your favorite tools to centralize your entire business into one platform.  

5. Forecast your inventory 

Some inventory management software can integrate with demand forecasting tools. This is useful if you want to know how much of each product you need to order based on past sales data.  

6. Report and analyze 

Reporting is often overlooked, but data analytics is essential for effective inventory management. Look for a platform that offers proper reporting tools, so you can get invaluable insights regarding your:  

  • Sales 
  • Cost 
  • Inventory  
  • Production operations  

7. Allow access for multiple users 

Depending on the size of your business, you may need software that supports multiple users. Even if this is something you currently don’t need, it may become an important feature as your business grows. So, it’s better to choose a platform that has this option available.  

8. Synchronize across multiple sales channels 

point of sale (POS) system allows you to track inventory at physical locations and connect with data from online sales. If you have a multichannel sales strategy, then you need POS systems that can keep track of them all. This way, you can avoid selling the same product twice and avoid stockouts.  

As you can see, this list can get pretty long, but it’s important to have a clear idea of your requirements before you start looking for the right platform. Once you know what features you need, you can narrow down your options and find the perfect solution for your business. 

Automated inventory management with Katana

Katana manufacturing ERP software gives you all the tools you need to automate your entire workflow, from purchases to production, to sales and beyond.
*No credit card needed
Product screenshot of Katana ERP software - Items list.

Finding the right inventory systems for your business 

Once you’ve laid out the needs of your business while also considering future growth, you can start shopping around for the best platform.  

Luckily, you don’t have to look too hard. Katana was built with manufacturers in mind and offered all the features you need for effective inventory management — offering:  

  • Barcode scanning  
  • Reorder points  
  • Integration with your other business apps  
  • Forecasting tools  
  • Reporting  
  • And much more  

Katana is constantly evolving with new features, so you can be sure it will keep up with your business’s current and future needs.  

It also provides seamless integration with the most popular applications from e-commerce, accounting, CRM, and more. In addition, there’s an open API, meaning that you can set up your own integrations and custom workflows.  

What’s more, it’s a cloud-based platform, so you can access it from anywhere, and with its affordable subscription plans, you don’t have to break the bank to get started.  

Katana offers a free 14-day trial, so you can try it out and see if it’s the right fit for your business. 

If you’re looking for a comprehensive, user-friendly, and affordable inventory management solution, then Katana is definitely worth considering.  

Henry Kivimaa Photo

Henry Kivimaa

Copywriter

Henry is an avid traveler with a passion for writing. Having lived most of his adult life abroad, he’s amassed a variety of experiences from many different fields. From ForEx trading to compliance to mobile engineering to demolition, he’s definitely not afraid to test out new things.

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