As more retailers offer direct-to-consumer shipping for items listed on their websites, they are shifting the warehousing and fulfillment responsibilities to suppliers. At the same time, brands want to keep the space reserved for distribution to a minimum—more warehouse square footage means more costs. Getting Just-in-Time Inventory right can be demanding, and requires knowledgeable, experienced technology partners.
Managing inventory throughout your supply chain involves constant transfers of data throughout the connected systems in your network. Without seamless integration, platforms don’t communicate effectively, errors happen, and productive business relationships can be damaged.
An essential element of Just-in-Time inventory is reporting.
For drop shipping, your retail trading partners will demand accurate, often daily inventory reporting. They want to ensure that products listed for sale on their websites are on hand and ready to ship. Today’s consumer has scant patience for a long wait from the time of purchase until the item arrives at the doorstep.
Inventory reporting also lets suppliers keep their stock on hand to the amount that is most cost-effective. Warehouse space, whether it belongs to the supplier or to their 3PL provider, comes with costs. When items spend less time on a shelf in a warehouse, costs are driven down.
For retailers that trade through EDI, suppliers need to provide the EDI 846 Inventory Feed. This details in-hand quantities to trading partners, and alerts everyone when stocks are low. Some retailers will expect this to be sent daily.
Merging inventory data from one system to another is critical for Just-in-Time inventory.
With Lingo, for instance, you can upload inventory information to a 3rd Party platform like DSCO, CommerceHub, or Radial, through our platform. Our integration team will work to ensure that your Lingo setup makes this easy and reliable.
If your company or your 3PL Provider relies on Warehouse Management software (WMS), the Lingo platform can be seamlessly integrated with that system as well. With integration in place, all orders—direct-to-consumer or wholesale EDI transactions—impact the inventory counts accordingly.
Just-in-Time Inventory Management and Customer Satisfaction
One key to getting Just-In-Time Inventory right is to step back and place the focus firmly on customer satisfaction. Top retailers want their shoppers to have a seamless experience when it comes to direct-to-consumer shipping.
That means timely shipping which, of course, requires the purchased products to be in stock and ready to go. But retailers also want customers to have only one key point-of-contact, and that means there must be nothing that creates confusion. That’s why most will insist on retailer-branded packing slips and shipping labels, so the customer never thinks that the purchase they made online was shipped by an outside supplier.
When you satisfy the end customer, the buyer of the item, by shipping the item without delay and with the branding marks of the retailer, you’re successfully navigating the Just-in-Time inventory challenge. And as a brand or supplier, you establish yourself as a reliable partner to the retailer by ensuring that orders are consistently fulfilled.
Just-in-Time inventory Reduces Costs
Effective Just-in-Time inventory management will reduce excess inventory and product, allowing suppliers to keep only what is needed on hand. If it’s done well, stock supplies can be maintained correctly even during peaks like busy holiday seasons. You’ll avoid stock-outs, but not find yourself stuck with a distribution center full of unwanted product.
With accurate inventory reporting, you can also make smarter business decisions. You’ll know what’s selling well, what isn’t, and spot trends before they show up on your balance sheet.
Here are some pros and cons to consider.
Data is power.
Inventory management is both critical and complex—getting Just-in-Time Inventory right is one more way to gain control of the information that truly drives your business.
What’s more, your retail trading partners, especially big box stores with large national or international footprints, will demand it. Brands and suppliers won’t grow if they don’t have control and transparency.Data is everything, and the right technology partner will give you power over it. As a leading EDI specialist, we are focused on making sure that our clients have seamless integration across multiple systems. When that happens, Just-in-Time inventory becomes a routine part of doing business.