Megaventory Blog - Online Inventory Management Software, Order fulfillment and Control System
This is the company blog for megaventory, an online software that helps small businesses that buy, sell and manufacture physical products to manage sales, purchasing, manufacturing and inventory. We blog about new features and updates but also about enterprise software, small businesses, cloud computing and the industry in general.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Inventory Organization: Update Your Layout, Save Pick Time






When it comes to inventory, you need every process to move like a well-oiled machine. As one of the last and most important steps in the retail pipeline, you never want picking to be the step that slows you down. But your machine won’t work if the parts don’t fit together well. This is where effective inventory organization comes into play. A great layout that makes the most sense for your space can assist everyone in pulling inventory quickly and easily, making the whole process run a little bit more smoothly.

Inventory organization is rarely easy, though. Space and time limitations, the constant in and out flow of of product, and the sheer overwhelming feeling that comes with tackling such a big task can cause re-organizing your inventory space to fall by the wayside way too often and for far too long.

Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to get started, and get your inventory space organized in a way that maximizes your space and optimizes your resources.

Stock Optimization Starts With Space Assessment


What's happening? Where is it happening? And is that the best possible place for it to be happening? There are a few of the questions you need to be asking when deciding on the most efficient layout for your picking space.

Of course, keeping things at ground level, whenever possible, will help make picking easier and faster.   But without ample room and well-planned paths to navigate, even the simplest setup will slow down and eventually create bottlenecks and jams.

Organize your inventory so there is a well-defined flow for employees to take on their picking journey.  Simple steps like grouping items that are commonly shipped together, and routing traffic to avoid doubling back or constantly retracing their steps can make a big difference, especially when space is limited.

Visualize Product Movements to Improve them

Your current setup may seem like it is working.  But your current layout is likely masking a huge problem.  Wasted motion and needless traffic in the wrong places.
Wasted motion in warehouses costs billions in productivity every year. In food warehouses alone, wasted motion consumes 6.9 weeks annually, at a cost of $4.3 billion annually.
In order to help you conduct the space assessment and optimize your warehousing, try literally mapping out the current flow. A paper and pen are all you need to start. Or use the time-lapse camera function on your phone to watch a whole day’s traffic Which routes are being taken most often? Do they make sense? Do they involve lots of long trips or out-of-the-way detours to pick the right products?
Also keep an eye—and make note of—where things are going wrong. Is there a particularly overstuffed corner where people get caught up? Is there a reshelve tub that’s constantly parked in the wrong place? Are there areas where too many people are picking at once because of the popularity of the item?
Knowing of these issues with certainty—witnessing them and taking note—can help your get to the root of your traffic problems and visualize how to begin fixing them.

Storage Cleaning and Upkeep Are Mission-Critical

From a safety standpoint, from an efficiency standpoint, and ultimately from a financial standpoint, cleaning and upkeep are an absolutely critical part of inventory organization. Just like you plan ahead to ensure you never run out of an item, you should also be planning ahead to ensure your inventory space stays well organized and tidy.
Having a plan and arranging your space once is not enough. Once everything is in place for optimal picking time and function, you have to make sure things stay that way. Everything needs to have a designated area. Empty pallets, boxes, and other trash should be removed as soon as they are created. Any spills or other messes should be addressed immediately.
Clean-up and reset at every position and every shift or day have to become second nature.  Perhaps use project management tools to ensure this clean-up process happens each day. A place for everything and everything in its place. Enforce a no-mess policy for a couple of weeks and you’ll be amazed at how big an impact it has on overall energy and flow.
Constantly Do Warehouse Audits

Is there any bigger headache than trying to work around inventory you just don’t need? It takes up space, it requires time and energy to try and figure out what to do with, and it ultimately means more work to finally get rid of it.
Well, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and the best thing to do with unneeded inventory is to avoid having it in the first place. By regularly evaluating low-turn, out-of-season, EOL inventory, you can create more accurate forecasts for what you need, and prevent the buildup in the future. And for any excess you already have lying around? Have sales/marketing develop strategies to sell through, return, or liquidate.

Product Location Is The Most Important Thing

It really is everything. According to Supply Chain 24/7, “travel time can easily account for 50% or more of order picking hours” so  it is imperative that  travel time is reduced and picking strategies are in place so time is never wasted. So much of this depends on location. From the location of the item within your space, to the space itself, location plays a vital role in determining the efficiency of your picking. Make sure your understand your location, its drawbacks, and its strengths, and plan accordingly.
And while all these tips might help make you make a better plan for achieving inventory organization, the biggest predictor of efficient picking is this: treat inventory process initiatives as mission critical for the company. Sure, there are lots of steps that come before and after, but in the long run, good business depends on good picking.


This is a guest post by Laura Hudgens, a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. She is a communications instructor and freelance writer who studies and writes about technology, media, science, and health.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Making Inventory Management More Efficient Using Weighing Scales


It is crucial for every single business which deals with inventory to keep track of it. However, keeping track of each and every piece of inventory can be extremely challenging, especially if the inventory consists of small parts. In fact, counting such parts by hand is rather impractical. So what do you do? You implement a reliable weighing scale system such as industrial floor scales that enable you to count many pieces of the same part quickly by using the weight of each piece.



Here are 5 tips on choosing the right weighing scales to make inventory more efficient:

 Consider the Scale’s Scope and Application

In case you are not sure how to choose floor scales for inventory, then consider your inventory process and the volume of the stock that needs to be counted. If you have small pieces of inventory, then a large scale wouldn’t be ideal as bench scales would be more efficient for the job. Not only can a bench scale do parts and check counting but it can also be connected to a remote platform to increase its capacity. You also need to consider the size of your inventory as well as the scale to ensure your stock fits into the weighing pan. Implement scales that can accurately measure even the smallest variation in the weight. Lastly, ensure that the scale is fully adapted to your products.

Program the Scales

Several scales have features which allow you to program them. For example, you can:

   Set a sample size by using a numeric keypad, allowing the counting scales to count the items based on that or by checking the weight of an initial sample. These ways will ensure the accuracy of the scales.

   Make sure you measure and store the weight of your pallets initially. This will help in weighing palletized goods as it will remove the weight of the pallet, thus the final displayed weight would be that of just the goods.

By programming the scales, you can be sure that they are optimized for the necessary weighing tasks, thus saving time and energy. Moreover, some scales can be connected to multiple scales and platforms in order to be more efficient.

Calibrate the Scale Before Each Process

The accuracy of all measuring devices, including weighing scales, will degrade over time. It can be caused due to normal wear and tear, hazardous manufacturing environment, electric or mechanical shock, etc. All these cause errors in readings, which can be eliminated by regular calibration. You must calibrate your scales before starting the inventory taking process. If the scale is being used to manage the inventory throughout the year, then you need to ensure that it is calibrated frequently as it will eliminate the errors and produce accurate results.

Choose a Scale Based on Your Goals

Weighing scales can be applied in various industries to measure different types of inventory. For example, industrial weighing scales are ideal for big warehouses and heavy products, bench scales and floor scales can be used for versatile inventory and smaller counting scales are great for small parts. Choose the right weighing scale based on your requirements.

Integration and Remote Access

The scales can be easily integrated using a standard network to connect to an existing network (Ethernet). This connection allows remote access to inventory levels in addition to increasing the efficiency and convenience of the working process. This makes walking back and forth to constantly check the inventory unnecessary. Integration also helps in ensuring that you never run out of supply with its feature of remote monitoring of stock. This feature also enables optimization of the entire supply chain and trend analysis from the comfort of your computer.

Weighing scales not only help you improve inventory management process but they also increase the overall productivity and profitability. Therefore, it is a good idea to implement them in your processes, if they are applicable.

This is a guest post by contributor Kevin Hill.



Kevin Hill heads the marketing efforts at Quality Scales Unlimited in Byron, CA. Besides his day job, he loves to write about the different types of scales and their importance in various industries. He also writes about how to care for and get optimized performance from different scales in different situations. He enjoys spending time with family and going on camping trips.


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

How to Address Manufacturing Challenges: A Modern Approach



Modern manufacturing companies have a lot on their plates. While you’ll often hear for example how manufacturing is on the decline in the United States, that’s actually not the case in many different industries. Despite the recent upturn in some areas, there are more challenges than ever faced by modern manufacturing companies. These struggles are empowering engineers and forward-thinkers to establish new solutions that will carry manufacturing into the 21st century.

While what follows is in no way a complete list here are the most common challenges facing modern manufacturing companies today.

Manufacturing Labor Management

Labor jobs have long been dominated by the Baby Boomer generation that grew up thinking manufacturing jobs were the best option right out of high school. As this generation continues to age, many developed countries have seen a decline in skilled labor for these manufacturing positions. Over the next decade, there is expected to be an increased number of openings in these positions, but there are no longer enough laborers to meet this demand.

In the next few years, there will need to be both improvements in automation and an increase in skilled training opportunities for new members of the job market. This means manufacturers need to get smart about hiring. Many jobs can be replaced with automation, software, and outsourcing. This not only means lowered expenses for companies but also more efficient production.

Handling Production Global Pressures

One of the most well-known problems facing modern manufacturing companies are the global pressures to compete with big powerhouses like China that are taking over the manufacturing industry. However, manufacturing in developed countries is making a comeback as more Western manufacturing companies are targeting new audiences. Manufacturing companies will need to adapt to meet the global pressures of this new marketplace. Ultimately, there is a need to stay ahead of this competitive game. Manufacturers can gain an edge by staying informed about and acting upon the latest developments both at home and abroad.

Assembly Technology Advances

Technology is changing every day. We see people being replaced by machines on the production line, and this leads to greater speeds, precision, and advancements in product development. The common practices such as injection molding and CNC machining (learn more about this) are still present in the manufacturing industry but 3D printing, for instance, is taking this industry by storm.

Because the technology is changing so quickly, it’s difficult for manufacturers to keep up with changes. The companies that are able to adapt quickly are the ones that will see the most success in the digital age. Changes that we are seeing most companies make today include moving to cloud technology and modular software. These are small steps, but ones that have a big pay off.

Manufacturing-related Data Protection

With the rise of technology comes new challenges in data security. Cyber attacks are on the rise recently and nobody is immune, especially manufacturing companies. Because manufacturing companies of today rely so much on technology, they’re highly susceptible to attacks from cybercriminals. The only way to protect themselves is to invest in top security provisions that prevent software from accessing important data and processes necessary to run a business.

Another data change is the introduction of GDPR compliance. This is no longer optional, and companies need to consider compliance with new laws with every new move. Security and privacy issues are a problem for all businesses today, but manufacturing companies have to be especially careful!

New Marketing Strategies

All businesses are facing a new world of marketing. Things of the past like mail ads, publication ads, and cold calling are no longer effective. Manufacturers need to target businesses in new ways. B2B marketing is all about digital strategy nowadays. By positioning themselves as experts in their fields and the best choice to solve a customer's problem is the only way to succeed in the digital marketplace. SEO, social media, and content marketing are all ways for businesses today to reach new audiences with their marketing.

Environmental Concerns from Production

Finally, there are changing regulations that affect the way manufacturing companies conduct their production. Because manufacturing and environmental concerns often go hand-in-hand, companies need to address these new environmental regulations to ensure they’re following the law. This usually has to do with how employees are exposed to materials, how manufacturing waste is handled, and the byproducts of their production. These regulations can vary by region, so the proper understanding of specific laws is necessary.

Companies looking to reduce their environmental impact should make an effort to go paperless as a good first step. This is an easy change, and it’s also more efficient to minimize paper communication across company departments. These small changes have a big impact, and they show real progress.


Manufacturing changes are affecting all sectors of business. As the world of manufacturing continues to change, companies will need to adapt to new movements, trends, and technology. Luckily, these challenges aren’t impossible to overcome! As long as modern manufacturing companies are proactive, their future looks bright.




Ready to take your manufacturing management to the next level?
Keep track of your production with Megaventory
Sign up for a free trial




About The Author


Ashley Lipman is an award-winning writer who discovered her passion in providing creative solutions for building brands online. Since her first high school award in Creative Writing, she continues to deliver awesome content through various niches.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"Out of Stock": 3 Inventory Management Horror Stories You Need To Learn From


About The Author

Bruce Harpham offers content marketing for B2B SaaS companies. His work has been published in CIO, Infoworld, ProjectManagement.com and IT World Canada. He is the author of “Project Managers At Work.”



Inventory management failure is no theoretical problem. In fact, it’s still with us in 2018. Let me share an example:

Earlier this year, I was shopping for spinach at one of the larger supermarkets in my neighborhood in Toronto. The only options were salad greens… But like Popeye, I prefer spinach!

I ended up tracking down a store employee who explained the day’s produce shipment had been delayed 9 hours. He went to the storeroom and handed me a fresh box. The store managed to recover from their inventory problem.

Here’s the problem:

Ecommerce customers have other options one click away (Amazon Prime!). That means you have less room to maneuver and recover if run out of inventory.

Run out of stock once and your loyal customers may forgive you and come back later. Do it too many times and you’ll have to rebuild that customer base. If your reputation for inventory problems spreads, your business may be doomed.

Inventory management failures, like all tragedies, has many causes. Learn the early warning signs from these horror stories and you’ll be able to keep your customers coming back for more.


My Wedding Décor: how inventory problems shifted their strategy





Remember Chris Anderson’s best selling book “The Long Tail”? I remember picking it up at an airport and reading it with excitement. Endless choices! This will be great!

The reality of endless inventory has two problems. First, there’s a real cost for businesses that have to manage that quantity of physical inventory. Second, psychological research has found that most people are overwhelmed by too many choices and do not buy.

My Wedding Décor, an Australian company that provides wedding clothes and products, experienced rapid inventory growth. Elizabeth Hollingsworth, the company’s founder, put it this way in Practical Ecommerce: “When the website launched in April 2015, it began with 80 products, which had grown to almost 500 products at the end of 2016.”

If coping with a rapidly growing inventory of products wasn’t enough, here’s what happened next:

“One supplier whose original rental threshold was $200 increased it overnight to $500. This forced me to delete many of their lower-priced products that would have required a ridiculous number of units hired to reach their threshold.”


Whether or not you’re in the wedding industry, you can draw inventory management lessons from My Wedding Décor. You never know when a supplier will change the rules on you. You can reduce the impact of such a change on your business though. How?

Use a robust inventory management software solution like Megaventory and do your own analysis regularly. That proactive approach will make it easier to keep your business growing when supplier problems hit you.


Inventory management is the only way to win in India’s grocery ecommerce market


In the dotcom era, several companies attempted to make grocery ecommerce work. Yes, Webvan failed to achieve success as a grocery e-tailer despite railing $800 million.

Despite those early struggles, there is demand for the service. The category has found a following - as of 2017, 7% of Americans order their groceries according to AdAge. How are the winners in grocery ecommerce making it work?

It all comes down to customer expectations and fine tuned inventory management.
Amazon has the bar high for ecommerce. Customers expect their orders to be delivered fast and in great condition. With grocery ecommerce, your inventory cannot sit on shelves for weeks or months even with great refrigeration. A recent surge of investment in grocery ecommerce produced few winners.

Is there a path to win in grocery ecommerce? Yes! That solution lies in mastering inventory management:

“The startups that shut shop followed the on-demand hyperlocal mode, which is a ridiculous business model. That’s why they failed. BigBasket survived because it had its own inventory, distribution centre and directly distributed orders to the customer. That is the business model that can be sustained,” says Arvind Singhal of Technopak.

Hundreds of online grocery startups shut shop since 2015, why are unicorns now betting big?


Investing in inventory management is one reason why BigBasket is winning in the market. Companies in this category are known to spend heavily on customer acquisition. That leaves no margin for error in keeping inventory moving.

For our last example, let’s go outside of the ecommerce field.

What if you had a successful national brand and you wanted to expand? Opening stores in another country shouldn’t be that hard, right? Let’s dive into the Target Canada story next.


Target Canada’s Epic Inventory Failure


In the ecommerce field, it’s easy to dream about expansion. You just add capacity with your outsourced providers and call it a day, right?

In reality, it’s not always that easy. In fact, even companies with a strong brand struggle avoid inventory management failures. Target, a retailer with nearly 2,000 locations in the USA, recently failed in its expansion to Canada. The failure cost millions of dollars and badly hurt the company’s reputation. The failure is all the more notable because many other large American retailers - Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, Home Depot to name just a few – have been successful in Canada for years.

Fundamentally, inventory and supply chain failures lie at the heart of Target Canada’s failure. Let’s dig in and find out what these inventory management problems looked like at the ground level.

According to Canadian Business:

[Target's] concern was that with severe supply chain problems and stores facing the prospect of patchy or empty shelves, Target would blow its first date with Canadian consumers

It didn’t take long for Target to figure out the underlying cause of the breakdown: The data contained within the company’s supply chain software, which governs the movement of inventory, was riddled with flaws. At the very start, an untold number of mistakes were made, and the company spent months trying to recover from them. In order to stock products, the company had to enter information about each item into SAP. There could be dozens of fields for a single product. For a single product, such as a blender, there might be fields for the manufacturer, the model, the UPC, the dimensions, the weight, how many can fit into a case for shipping and so on. Typically, this information is retrieved from vendors before Target employees put it into SAP. The system requires correct data to function properly and ensure products move as anticipated.

A team assigned to investigate the problem discovered an astounding number of errors. Product dimensions would be in inches, not centimetres or entered in the wrong order: width by height by length, instead of, say, length by width by height. Sometimes the wrong currency was used. Item descriptions were vague. Important information was missing. There were myriad typos. “You name it, it was wrong,” says a former employee. “It was a disaster.”


What’s the lesson from Target Canada’s inventory management horror story? Even if you have all the inventory you need in stock, bad inventory data can kill your business. Bad inventory data means your staff (or outsourced providers) have to work much harder to ship products. The likelihood of disappointing customers is high.

What’s next for your inventory management process?

If you’re growing and want to keep your customers coming back, it is a critical function to get right.




Ready to take your inventory management to the next level?
Keep track of stock changes with Megaventory
Sign up for a free trial



We love conversation so if you'd like to share your own inventory horror stories, write a comment below or tweet us!

And if you liked this post, don't forget to share it with your colleagues and friends!


Monday, January 29, 2018

Megaventory integrates with 1,000 apps!



Getting your work done as a modern business requires the combined use of many apps.

You may have a CRM app to manage communications with your clients, an e-mail marketing tool to automate your mailing lists, an inventory management system to streamline your supply chain operations and order fulfillment, and an accounting platform to track your payments and keep your books updated.

While all these apps can reduce workload greatly, wouldn’t be awesome if in some way they could also talk to each other, automatically?

Now this is absolutely possible!


Streamline your Operations with Megaventory Zaps


Megaventory now connects to 1,000 other web tools, thanks to our Zapier integration.

With workflow automation tool Zapier, you can set up your own integrations called “Zaps”. Zaps will automatically send information from one tool to another, so you’ll spend less time manually transferring data between business tools and can dedicate more focus to creative, big picture tasks.

The following are only some of the available zaps:


3 More Integrations to Try Out


Since 1,000 apps is a quite overwhelming number, we’d love to mention three apps that work complementary with Megaventory and you can try out today.


Process Street


Process Street is a business process management tool that makes it easy for businesses to create and collaborate over recurring checklists like client onboarding, sales qualification, and supplier evaluation. It helps teams improve consistency because every member knows exactly what they’re supposed to be doing next, and task progress is visible to managers.

But how to use the integration with Process Street?

Integrations save you time from mundane tasks like data entry, one of the biggest time wasters. One tedious data entry task is updating your inventory management software with the data of a new supplier. If you have already filled this data while evaluating suppliers you can save time from doing this again in Megaventory, by having Zapier do the filling in for you.

In the same logic, with Zapier you can trigger a reversed zap. For example, if you have in place an onboarding process for every new customer, you can set it up to create a new checklist each time a new client is created in Megaventory.


SurveyMonkey


Even though a customer bought from you once, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will do so again! Often, customers are dissatisfied with the purchase or delivery process, and their previous experience with your business prevents them from going forward with a second purchase. Many times angry customers become vocal about their feeling, but it is quite often that a customer will decide to remain silent on this and just don’t ever do business with you again. As a business owner, you may see your churn numbers growing up and have absolutely no clue why.

The answer? Just ask them with a survey!

SurveyMonkey is one of the most popular survey platforms, allowing you to easily build, send and monitor your surveys. Although it is commonly used for research, did you know that you can also use it to gain valuable information on your customers?

For example, you can set up a zap to send a survey about their recent purchase, each time a new client is created in Megaventory.


Intercom


Intercom is a popular CRM solution and one we use ourselves and love. You can use it to set up a live chat on your website (customers with unanswered questions often means abandoned carts!) or/and streamline your e-mail marketing efforts.

How to use Intercom integration?

Data entry is a tedious task so the more you can eliminate, the better! With this integration, you can set a zap to automatically update a company or user in Intercom, when a client in Megaventory is updated and vice versa. That way you are always sure that your customers’ data are always up to date, and your messages reach the maximum number of people.

A last note


With so many available integrations the possibilities for automation are endless. To help you out on this, Process Street has created a thorough guide on business process automation through Zapier. This guide will walk you through several examples of business process automation being used right now by startups and enterprises, and help you start saving time and money today.

So, why don’t visit Zapier’s page and experiment with the available triggers and actions?

If it is too overwhelming (the options are THAT many now!) just send us a message at support@megaventory.com and we will respond with the best combination of triggers/actions to achieve your desired result.