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Digital Transformation in Inventory Management

Inventory Management Digital Transformation Scaled

Whether your company wants to pull the trigger on a new e-commerce platform, a shiny, all-inclusive ERP, or discuss grand ideas like Industry 4.0, too many industrial distributors are falling prey to the temptation to swing for the innovation fences. However, digital transformation is a slow, intentional process of incremental innovations that lead to the desired home run.

Advanced digital solutions provide manufacturers with the edge to transform and achieve better inventory control. The 4th Industrial Revolution has inspired the manufacturing industry to search for new ways to improve supply chains and automated inventory management.

Beginning with system design and graduating to physical warehouse processes, smart manufacturers use digital technology to take better control of stock and manage inventory more efficiently and more accurately.

To set the stage for digital transformation it’s important to define the two major categories of understanding the Internet of Things (IoT) when it comes to technology innovations—internal versus external.

Internal solutions are less complicated and a great place to start. External business-to-business solutions require a deeper understanding of data ownership, data management, data security, system complexity, and system integrations.

Taking the Leap from Internal to External – It’s Complicated

Once you have mastered the internal innovation process—deploying a few innovations inside your front office or warehouse—then you can begin to plan for your first external innovation or B2B system. During this process you will need to carefully consider three main issues with B2B digital systems.

  1. Data Concerns. This includes things like data security, data ownership, and long-term data maintenance.
  2. System Concerns. This includes system uptime and remote maintenance. This is especially complicated if your B2B system has a hardware component deployed in the field.
  3. System Integration. Eventually, every user in a B2B system wants to integrate the data from the B2B system into their own business. Business level system integrations are complicated, messy, and labor intensive. How will your system accommodate system integrations? Will your B2B innovation require system integration to be ROI positive? (If so, you may want to rethink your strategy).

How to Get Started with Your Digital Transformation

There are three keys to getting the digital transformation process started in your own business.

  1. Complete a self-awareness company assessment. Do you have the necessary pieces in place to accomplish your innovation goals? Be self-aware and assess your company’s readiness to deploy and take advantage of what IoT and technology has to offer.
  2. Start planning your first INTERNAL innovation. Think small. Look for the largest stack of paper in your front office or tackle paper travelers in your warehouse (maybe a WIP or RFID receiving process).
  3. Do you have a “guy” for this? You won’t find a guy or if you find “The Guy,” you won’t be able to attract that level of talent. But you could put a team of guys together that care about making your company better and give them a budget—not money—but a budget of TIME to learn, test, and grow these innovations.

Make the Digital Transformation with ShelfAware

Implementing ShelfAware’s robust platform is often complex but does not need to be slow. It begins with a group conversation involving a mix of finance, operations and IT professionals. A site audit (often multiple sites) is usually required before a proposal can be made.

Final proposals usually involve a formal stocking agreement, installation fee, and a product pricing quote. Onboarding consumers varies widely, but the minimum time required to convert a supply chain in most markets is about three months.

Want to learn more about an affordable way to automate your supply chain? Request your free ShelfAware demo 

Too good to be true?  ShelfAware is redefining the vendor-managed inventory industry. For this reason, we’re happy to talk to you about how our intelligent inventory platform can benefit your business. Contact us today for more information.

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