Field operations often cover large geographical areas, they also have remote warehouses, and trunk or van stocks. This type of business requires a meticulous way of managing the inventory. With multiple locations and a variety of small and large products, manual tracking is beyond difficult.
Field inventory is commonly associated with items that are always close to customers. These items are immediately available, either for sale or paid service, and are dispersed in multiple locations.
Field Inventory Management Challenges
1. Having the right product at the right time
When a business offers a type of service that relies on what the customers or the circumstance require, the availability of the correct items at the right time is highly valued. However, businesses sometimes overstock because of the fear of running out of supplies.
2. Excess stock
Some businesses tend to overstock because they have very little, to no way of looking at what they have in stock. They would repurchase even though the items they currently have are moving slow. This would cause the said items to expire and/or become scrap.
3. Too many small value items
Small items with small values can be cumbersome. Optimization of every single inventory unit with small values, multiplied by several locations would require a lot of time and effort.
Beneficial Way to Manage Field Inventory
Inventory is one of the largest business assets. Traditional techniques of inventory management are effective, but that alone is no longer efficient, given the sudden changes in the environment and the different customer preferences.
The traditional way to resolve this problem is to transfer some products directly from FIELD 1 to 2, or transfer items from the WAREHOUSE to FIELD 2, then transfer overstock items from FIELD 1 back to the WAREHOUSE or to other locations that require them. The traditional way is often forgotten because of the pressure to have the right product in stock at the right time, and not having inventory visibility.
The key to inventory visibility is to have a very keen eye that oversees the locations and inventory levels in the overall operation. It would also help to have a centralized inventory management system that records all the changes made including the username, date, and time. All of these will help in inventory optimization and will lessen the cost of missing and lost inventories.
An introduction to technology such as an inventory management system is a great investment. It serves as the eye that oversees the entire operation. It also helps greatly in resolving common challenges, especially when the industry in questions requires detailed information of daily operation from multiple locations.