Taking the game out of finding ‘missing’ stock can reduce operating costs, unlock better business decision-making, improve customer service, and facilitate business growth
By Barry Moore, Operations Director, Keelings Knowledge ERP
How many times do you go to your warehouse to get that specific pallet of stock only to find that it’s not where you thought it was? Or perhaps there is a pallet of stock but it’s not the specification you expected it to be, or the quality is sub-standard, or the stock is out of residence. Cue the army of stock checkers to investigate the whereabouts of the elusive product and adjust the stock records to get them right – until the next time.
The impact of inaccurate stock records will be further exaggerated if you use remote off-site storage locations and/or stock-in-transit because it is more difficult to carry out physical checks in such scenarios.
It’s not uncommon for fresh produce companies to have a team of people whose sole job is to check stock and update stock records – at significant ongoing cost to the business.
But why should you have to resort to scouring the warehouse for the stock? Why shouldn’t you be able to rely on the information in your stock system when you commit to fulfilling an order? Instead you are into “fire-fighting” mode to see if you can salvage the situation and minimise the fall-out with your customer.
Absorb the cost or annoy the customer? Not great options!
Having erroneously committed to the sale of stock you don’t actually have, albeit in good faith, you can either try to source the stock somewhere at short notice or fail your customer. If you source stock somewhere at short notice you’ll probably pay above the normal price and risk incurring additional costs such as air freight, duty, and waste. Alternatively, if you choose to go back to the customer and disappoint them, your service level performance will be adversely impacted and you risk harming the long-term relationship with that customer.
Poor visibility of stock leads to poor decision making, extra cost for your business, and dissatisfied customers. If you are continually getting caught out by stock inaccuracies you will deploy stock checkers, you will tend to hold higher than ideal levels of safety stock, and you may also invest unnecessarily in third-party storage because you don’t have confidence in your stock system.
Solving a sticky problem
There is no excuse for poor stock information – it is completely avoidable. It’s possible to know how much stock you have all of the time, and all the information you need about that stock, regardless of where in your operation it is physically located.
By accurately tracking stock transactions and movements, you have the opportunity to reduce reliance on stock checks and you can confidently rely on the information in your stock system. Better still, when your stock system provides extensive information about the stock, you can make faster and better decisions. Clients of Keelings Knowledge ERP are able to assign multiple attributes to every SKU, so they have information about every pallet of stock at the touch of a button, like, for instance:
• What stock they hold
• Where it is located
• Quality information including condition of the stock and the expected yield
• Country of origin
• The customers to whom the stock can be sol
Meet and beat customer commitments
By having this knowledge, the cost savings for your operation, the reduction in waste, and the improvement in service levels to customers are immense. Your commercial and operations teams gain by:
• Reducing reliance on physical checks
• Reducing time lost looking for stock in the warehouse, with less chance of delay in production
• Meeting or exceeding QSL and DSL commitments to customer
There’s also a huge potential benefit to your growth plans. Your sales teams now become more responsive by relying on accurate, detailed information to act quickly. They can confidently commit to new customer orders and then fulfil them quickly and efficiently. In the process, they build a reputation with clients for reliability and high service levels – all of which leads to winning new business.
The value of accurate and meaningful stock records cannot be overstated, particularly when the know-how and the software system is readily available. There is a great opportunity for fresh produce companies to have reliable, up-to-date stock records to hand that not only tell you what the stock is and how much you have of it, but also provides the latest information on quality, specifications, and residency. Users of Keelings ERP enjoy these benefits every day. Instead of playing hide and seek with their stock, they just play pick and despatch – a much more rewarding pursuit!
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