Inventory management is the process of keeping track of a product’s lifecycle, from when it was manufactured until it ends up in your customers’ hands. When done well, inventory management helps you retain profit, reduce waste, and can also help you become more environmentally conscious. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about sustainable inventory management: what it is, how it can save you money, and how to use data-driven insights to make smart decisions about managing your supply chain.
Take the time to make a plan.
Now that you’re aware of the impact inventory has on your bottom line, it’s time to take action. To begin with, we recommend that you make a plan.
There are many ways to approach this task, but we find that there are six steps that will help ensure success:
Research current practices in your industry and identify what works and what doesn’t work well.
Measure the efficiency of your existing inventory system by taking note of how much time it takes to complete tasks related to inventory management (e.g., ordering products from suppliers).
Identify areas where improvements can be made based on the research done previously. For example, if your company’s processes for managing inventory require too much paperwork or manual input, then streamlining those processes may increase productivity significantly over time as well as save money due to less wasted labor.
Work With Local Suppliers and Vendors
Working with local suppliers and vendors is one of the most essential aspects of sustainable inventory management. Not only will this reduce your carbon footprint, but it can also reduce shipping costs and time to market.
If you need to order a piece of equipment or some product, it’s best to find a supplier nearby rather than ordering it from across the country or internationally. This will cut down on your carbon emissions and reduce shipping expenses so that you have more money available for other purposes.
Properly forecast and understand your product demand
One of the best ways to reduce your environmental impact is to plan and forecast the demand for your products.
Forecasting and demand planning is a valuable tool that helps you:
Know how much inventory you will need on hand at any given time. This helps ensure that you are always prepared, leading to less waste produced by items on shelves that have been stocked but not yet sold.
Understand what products are popular and which ones aren’t as well-received by customers so that you can better allocate resources. You can also adjust marketing campaigns accordingly if needed.
First In, First Out
First in, first out (FIFO) is a method of inventory management based on the chronological order in which inventory items are purchased, sold, or stored. It’s the opposite of last in, first out (LIFO).
FIFO can help you minimize losses due to obsolescence by ensuring that older inventory items are sold or used before newer items. This will allow your business to reap more profit from its products without spending money on replacing spoiled goods.
Re-imagine returns and reverse logistics.
Know your numbers: What are you spending on returns and reverse logistics? How much is it costing you to ship them back? How much time have you invested in this process? Are there any ways of saving money or time along the way that doesn’t come at the expense of the environment or customer experience?
Know where things are going (and coming from). Whether it’s a defective product, damaged packaging, or incorrect order—know where things are going! If your customers want their refunds credited back to their account, make sure they get that refund; if they want store credit instead, make sure they get it too.
Understand what items are getting returned so that when someone asks for something similar later on down the line (or even before), you have an idea of what might work best for them.
Be socially responsible with your shipping materials and delivery options.
Socially responsible shipping materials and delivery options are a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. For example, use recycled paper whenever possible. Water-based inks can be used in place of petroleum-based ones, and low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) paints can be used instead of higher VOC paints that often have harmful fumes.
Use an Inventory Management System
A good Inventory Management System, like Omnirio, can help forecast demand and track inventory, saving time and money in the long run. It also allows for more accurate planning of purchases and sales orders.
Being able to forecast demand accurately means that when an item sells out in one store, you’ll know when to reorder from your supplier (or buy more from another store) instead of guessing when to order again based on how quickly sales were going before they sold out. This will help keep costs low while ensuring a steady supply of popular items at stores across the country or worldwide!
Tracking inventory means knowing exactly how many units of each product are available at each location—and understanding if there’s too much or too little stock on hand right now so that adjustments can be made accordingly before anyone notices anything amiss.
Now that you understand how your inventory management can impact environmental sustainability, it’s time to take action. By using an inventory management system like Omnirio, you can be sure you’re never wasting money on unneeded goods and supplies. At the same time, by working with local suppliers and vendors, you can ensure that your goods come from socially responsible companies that care about their employees and our planet. And with careful planning ahead of time and rethinking how returns work at every stage of your supply chain process, you’ll be able to save time too! So what are you waiting for? Get started today!