Many companies struggle with managing multiple locations. Heck, some have their hands full just keeping up with one store or warehouse. Having several places that you do business could be seen as a problem if you’re not prepared to handle them.
You might be thinking: “I thought having multiple locations was a great thing!” And… you’re right. Having more than one warehouse is definitely a good sign because it means your business is growing. But it also means some pretty serious logistical challenges, especially if you’re still trying to manage inventory with a pen and paper (you’d be surprised how many big companies do that).
Here are three challenges that every growing business faces, as well as how to solve them:
1. Increasing Complexity. What is your process for filling customer orders? Do you send a warehouse worker out to dig under piles of unmarked boxes until the desired inventory items are located? Imagine multiplying the complexity of that process by two, three, etc., depending on how many warehouses you have.
Solution: Have readily available maps of all of your warehouses, showing product locations and amounts in stock. Probably the best way to do this is to use asset management software. You can update it in real time when you make a sale or receive inventory, and you can generate maps on mobile devices so that employees can move faster and even fill more than one order at a time.
2. Lack of Data. Do you know how much inventory you have on hand right now? How about what your highest-selling products are? If you don’t, you need to find out. Knowledge is power. If you’re not able to track something, you won’t be able to know whether or not you’re doing well or how to make improvements.
Solution: The answer to this problem is pretty clear, isn’t it? You need to track as much as possible: product sales, seasonal trends, inventory turnover, order-fulfillment times, supply-chain efficiency, etc. Again, software would be helpful here, but it is possible to do this on your own, provided you have a lot of elbow grease.
3. Inventory Imbalance. When you don’t know which products to reorder (or when or how many, for that matter), you can wind up stockpiling too many of one product and running out of another.
Solution: Solid recordkeeping is the best way to solve this problem. If you always update your inventory records when you sell, order or receive products, you’ll have a firm grasp of your situation, and you’ll be able to respond to changes quickly. It doesn’t hurt to plan ahead, either. If you notice that certain products are more popular at one location or at a specific time of year, you can stockpile more of those products at the right place and time.
Multiple locations don’t have to be a major challenge for your business. If you have the right tools, they can be a big opportunity!