Inventory Visibility: Why It’s Important to Your Supply Chain Operation

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Keeping an eye on your inventory is key to optimizing warehouse processes and fulfilling orders in a prompt and reliable manner. This is why supply chain and inventory visibility are so vital to managing operations.

What Is Supply Chain Visibility?

Supply chain visibility refers to your ability to track the location, number, and status of objects at any point in a supply chain. Its impact is significant, with research showing that retailers lose a total of $1.1 trillion worldwide as a result of inventory distortion. By improving inventory visibility, you’re able to make informed changes to eliminate delays, prevent errors, and reduce waste.

5 Benefits of Improving Visibility in the Supply Chain

Improving visibility in your supply chain is important regardless of the scale of your operations. Taking measures to improve inventory visibility can help you in the following ways.

1. Reduce Stockouts and Overstocks

First, increasing your inventory visibility allows you to reduce stockouts and overstocks. When you know how many of a given item you need to keep in stock, it’s easier to meet demand without wasting storage space. The potential financial impact of doing so is significant: reducing stockouts and overstocks can lower your inventory costs by about 10%.

2. Reduce Late Shipments

The second benefit of creating a more visible supply chain is a reduction in late shipments. In fact, in 2017, a survey revealed that 34% of businesses had late shipments resulting from stockouts, so by keeping a closer eye on your inventory, you’re better able to plan ahead and make shipments on time.

3. Improve Order Accuracy

Order accuracy is key when it comes to supply chain fulfillment, and visibility over your inventory can help improve that as well. For instance, out-of-stock items may require splitting the order into separate shipments, increasing the odds that something will go wrong.

4. Increase Adaptability

A real-time view of your inventory and supply chain processes gives you more data to work with, and that data can be analyzed to find common trends. By tracking data on each item, it’s possible to adapt more quickly to surges and declines in demand.

5. Improve Overall Efficiency

All these benefits boil down to improving your warehouse’s overall efficiency. With fewer stockouts, less overstock, and fewer errors in your supply chain and fulfillment processes, you’re able to operate with less wasted revenue, increasing your facility’s overall profitability.

Strategies to Increase Inventory Visibility

There are a number of systems, software, and practices that can be used to improve inventory visibility in your facility. A few of these strategies include those described below.

Use a Warehouse Management System

One of the most powerful ways to improve visibility in the supply chain is to use a warehouse management system (WMS). This software stores data to give you a full view of receiving, allocation, picking, packing, shipping, and other processes, and it includes systems that give you more control over your operations.

Expedite Cycle Counting

Regular cycle counting can help you verify data in your WMS database, and the right physical infrastructure can make that easier. Giving personnel full view of items makes it easy to conduct routine counts and tell when items are about to run out.

We actually offer a number of racking systems and picking modules that can help in this area, including:

Each of these systems makes it easy for personnel to physically see palletized or boxed product, expediting counts.

Automate Inventory Picking

Automated inventory picking can be linked to your WMS, making it possible to track inventory counts in real time. For instance, automated pallet shuttles and our perfect pick system can both help you improve inventory visibility.

Implement Radiofrequency Devices and Barcoding

Scanning, pick to light, and RF devices also serve to automatically update your warehouse’s central database, making inventory visibility fast, precise, and completely up-to-date.

Inventory Visibility FAQs

Why is visibility important in the supply chain?

Inventory visibility helps prevent stockouts and errors while giving warehouses the data they need to reduce waste from overstock.

Why is inventory considered an important driver of supply chains?

A well-managed inventory allows you to meet changes in demand quickly and avoid bottlenecks in your supply chain.

Why do supply chain managers like supply chain visibility?

Supply chain managers use supply chain visibility to assist with planning and purchase decisions, making it possible to streamline overhead.

Improve Inventory Visibility with Precision Warehouse Design

Precision Warehouse Design offers a wide range of products and software systems that can help you improve inventory visibility in your facility. To learn more, get in touch.