Inventory is the lifeblood of every successful business, from fashion to electronics, from retail to wholesale, and beyond. Managing the entire inventory block may not sound like a major hassle initially, but if you have a widespread business with multiple warehouses or are willing to scale your business in the long run, inventory management can be the toughest battle to lead, especially when it’s handled manually.
The e-commerce industry in the Philippines is no exception, as its rapid growth demands efficient and effective inventory management solutions. While business owners in the Philippines are well aware of the benefits of automation, budget constraints can sometimes hold them back from making the switch. However, failing to address these inventory management challenges can limit a company’s ability to stay competitive in a rapidly growing industry
So, let’s unveil some of the most common inventory management challenges faced by companies in the e-commerce industry in the Philippines and solutions to overcome them.
Top Inventory Management Challenges in the Philippines
#1: Inconsistent Tracking
#2: Inefficient Warehouse Management
#3: Data Inaccuracy
#4: Limited Inventory Process Visibility
#5: Manual Documentation
#6: Overstocking and Understocking Issues
#7: Insufficient Order Management
#8: Expanding Product Portfolios
#9: Inventory Loss
Though every company can have its set of holdbacks, here are a few challenges that might be the common ones among all:
Challenge #1: Inconsistent Tracking
When you have tons of inventory to manage, it’s quite natural that the tracking can become tough, and there’s a huge room for errors in tracking products in the warehouse. Talking about the holdbacks, there are high chances of late and wrong product deliveries due to inconsistent inventory tracking, which can be responsible for depleting the brand value and gaining low ratings on social media as well, ultimately resulting in tarnished brand value.
Challenge #2: Inefficient Warehouse Management
As said earlier, inventory management isn’t ever a piece of cake; thus, managing warehouses to accommodate new stocks can be a cumbersome process. In case you’re operating on a manual process, there can be a few steps, including scratching a plan, allocating spaces, and then heading to management. The process will take generous time and resources, which can increase your budget. Without an automated inventory system, it’s nearly impossible to have efficient warehouse management.
Challenge #3: Data Inaccuracy
Managing large amounts of data associated with a vast inventory can be extremely challenging without automation. Manual data management becomes even more complex and prone to errors. Having a system to back up your process and incorporating the right tracking to have the data in sync can be done only through an e-commerce solution. This can later avoid data inaccuracy and keeps stuff ready to use for further purposes.
Challenge #4: Limited Inventory Process Visibility
Customers have come to expect transparency and accuracy in their e-commerce experiences, including real-time tracking information. Inadequate inventory tracking can result in delayed deliveries, which can lead to customer frustration and a switch to competitor products. Inaccurate inventory management can severely impact customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Challenge #5: Manual Documentation
Manual inventory management can be a difficult task, especially when it comes to tracking inventory, managing reports, processing purchase orders, and handling invoices. Inaccurate documentation can result in incorrect order allocation, causing missed or delayed deliveries that can have a significant impact on operations and customer satisfaction.
Challenge #6: Overstocking and Understocking Issues
Overstocking and understocking are two significant issues that businesses face when managing their inventory. In a general supply chain process, new stocks are ordered once the old/existing ones go bleak or maybe about to finish. In the case of inefficient inventory management, there are huge changes in overstocking or understocking materials, which can cut your profit margins, while manual management can lead to inaccurate records, missing items, and higher budget allocation for re-ordering.
Challenge #7: Insufficient Order Management
With tons of orders pouring in, you must have a strong order management system to help you fight the insufficiency of products. For instance, if the customer has ordered five pieces of a particular order and post-purchase you find lesser pieces available, ordering more will take time, and thus your order delivery duration will extend, leading to insufficient order management. Additionally, incorrect SKU mapping can also cause problems with order management. An incorrect SKU mapped to a product can result in inaccurate inventory tracking and fulfillment errors, leading to delays and, ultimately, unsatisfied customers.
Challenge #8: Expanding Product Portfolios
Expanding a product line or setting up a new warehouse requires strong and effective management of inventory stocks. Having it done manually can surely lead to mismanagement; why so? This is because the inventory managers are required to have order tracking, maintain shipping details, and have an eye on the currently available stocks to allocate the same for rising customer demands. Having an automated system can be the right way to expand product portfolios.
Challenge #9: Inventory Loss
Wastage in inventory is often overlooked until it shows up as losses on the balance sheet. Poor inventory management can result in damage or defects during the product life cycle. Inefficient tracking can lead to missing inventory, causing further losses if not noticed. These inefficiencies can significantly impact the bottom line.
Read how brands like Ellana and Edamama solved their inventory management challenges in the Philippines.
As a business owner, you require robust software to manage complex logistics and seamlessly integrate with your existing business processes. However, choosing the right inventory management solution from the hundreds available can be challenging, particularly with the need to master a range of features that require training and ongoing support.
But what should be kept in mind while finding the right solutions to overcome the above-listed challenges? Here’s what you need to know!
Choosing the Right Inventory Management Solutions in the Philippines
#2: Multi-location Sync
#3: Extensive Dashboard for Reporting
#4: Product Barcoding
#5: Product Bundling
A comprehensive inventory management system is crucial for any business. The right solution can provide valuable insights into your stock, enabling effective management and identification of any potential obstacles to success. This can help ensure timely deliveries and maintain customer satisfaction.
When choosing an inventory management solution, it’s important to consider the following essential features:
Having an inventory management system in place is not enough for a successful business. It’s important to ensure that all necessary integrations are in place, including an ERP solution, a comprehensive point-of-sale system, accounting software, and strong logistics.
This should also include integration with leading marketplaces, websites, and carts such as Lazada, Shopee, Shopify, and Magento, and with logistics providers such as J&T and Ninjavan, and with ERP systems like SAP, Infor, and Microsoft.
Having your presence on a single channel isn’t enough to grab the eyeballs; make sure you have omnichannel visibility with a marketplace sync. This includes a strong presence on both digital and offline channels.
An inventory management system can facilitate efficient omnichannel operations, such as centralizing inventory across online and offline channels, optimizing inventory allocation for a higher return on investment, and improving inventory turnover while reducing working capital. The system can also allow for effective order routing based on inventory availability.
Extensive Dashboard for Reporting
An all-encompassing report dashboard is crucial for monitoring and analyzing business performance, including metrics such as growth, profitability, loss, holdbacks, customer feedback, data usage, and more. These dashboards also provide real-time data synchronization and inventory updates on marketplaces.
Not only do these updates help you avoid loss of sales and delays in delivery, but they also lead to improved customer satisfaction. Ensure that you have access to a comprehensive dashboard that presents all of this information in a single, easily-readable view.
Barcoding software is an essential tool for reducing data entry errors, automating internal processes, and ensuring accuracy and efficiency in inventory management. The use of barcode software often integrates with digital documentation and reporting features, allowing for a more streamlined and efficient workflow.
Integrating a mobile barcoding device can significantly enhance inventory accuracy and speed up back-end processes, reducing manual labor and shifting towards a more paperless documentation process.