Stock control in a warehouse is an essential element in the management of your business. Indeed, this allows you to always keep an optimal quality of products in stock, rigorously track stock, and plan the quantities to come for future product orders. 

What are the most popular inventory control systems? There are many stock control systems, but manual tracking, computerized tracking and robotic tracking are the most common systems found in stores. 

These three systems can be used in independent retail stores or in multi-location stores, such as franchises, corporate chains or networks of stores. Let’s take a closer look at how each of these stock control systems works.

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Manual Tracking

Manual inventory tracking is a process usually used by independent retailers who do not have computerized or robotic software, either because of the small size of the store or because of their very limited budget. In other words, businesses that operate with a manual system are used to tracking their inventory by hand and do not want a computerized system or have simply not thought about making the transition.

There are many tools available to ensure manual inventory management, but this type of monitoring has many disadvantages that we will discuss in this article. Manual monitoring can be done through a stock register, a replenishment system or with stock records. 

 

Stock Register 

A stock register is a manual system that is mainly suitable for small companies that do not have a large quantity of products. Indeed, a stock register is used to track all data on the location of the product and related activities. It is therefore a simple and easy-to-use tool that allows you to keep track of your current inventory and forecast the amount of stock that will be received or issued in the future. 

 

Replenishment System

An inventory replenishment system is an order that, with automated tracking, automatically sends an inventory renewal order to a supplier or manufacturer when the inventory level is low. However, in manual tracking, the operation is a human action, i.e. the order is sent manually. 

 

Stock Records

The use of stock records saves time by classifying products in inventory and quickly identifying the location of inventory for commercial use.

 

Advantages: 

More regular inventory verification: by manually tracking your inventory, you perform a much more regular, manual and diligent inventory verification than a computerized system that does this for you.  

  • Simplicity: For a small retail business, it is sometimes easier to do a manual follow-up than to implement a computerized system that can be more expensive than the return on investment it will generate. 

 

  • Sense of control: The store owner can have a greater sense of control over the inventory in their store by performing manual tracking. Indeed, they can keep an eye on all their merchandise and make a rigorous follow-up. 

 

Disadvantages: 

  • Data loss or damage risk: If your inventory management tools are not scanned, they may be lost or damaged (for example, if you keep your data on paper sheets). 

 

  • Presence of duplicate or forgotten products in the inventory: If you have several stores, the risk of reordering your inventory or forgetting one or more products is much higher with manual tracking. 

 

  • Difficulty in keeping track of your inventory: It can be difficult to find your way through the many files or stock sheets. This may reflect in poor organization or less efficient management of your store. 

 

  • Difficulty tracking your store remotely: Without computer software to manage your inventory, it is almost impossible to track activities remotely if you do not physically own the documents. The latter are not synchronized between your store and therefore takes longer if you need to change information. 

 

  • Increasing working time: This is an important negative aspect to consider when it comes to recording your inventory for each store. In addition to increasing the risk of errors, you lose a lot of time and, therefore, money. 

 

  • Requires constant attention: This point is especially not to be neglected since manual tracking requires constant attention and deems you responsible in case of errors. 

 

  • Risk of human error: Despite impeccable attention, rigorous monitoring and outstanding organization, it is likely that some errors will occur when you carryout manual monitoring. 

Computerized Tracking

If you have an independent store, franchises, a corporate buying group or a growing business, computerized inventory tracking is the most efficient option. Indeed, despite the few advantages of a manual system within your company, it is important to understand that computerized monitoring is much more effective, for many reasons. 

First, inventory tracking with computer software allows data to be compiled, processed, reported and analyzed through integrated systems. Point-of-sale software, such as Alice POS, meets your exact needs in terms of computerized inventory management.

To find out more about what Alice POS can do for you, click here.

Advantages: 

  • Better accessibility of information: With a computerized system, it is much easier and faster to make changes when tracking stocks than with a manual system. It is easier to find information when it is filed with the help of a computerized system than manually. Indeed, the data can be accessed with just one click. 

 

  • Save time and money: Thanks to a state-of-the-art computer system, such as Alice POS, you can save a lot of time and money by not having to manually track your inventory, for example. A good point of sale will reduce your operational management time.

 

  • Inventory synchronization: Computerized tracking allows you to synchronize and standardize inventory across all your stores. You will no longer need to transcribe the information and send it to your stores since the data synchronizes automatically. 

 

  • Reduced risk of data loss: If the system is integrated into an cloud-based solution, or in the cloud, it greatly reduces the risk of losing important information. Unlike manual tracking, data remains stored in the cloud, which significantly increases the security of your store. 

 

  • Increased security: Point of sale software provides much more security than manual tracking. Indeed, some computerized systems offer the ability to disable or modify access for some users, require dual user identification or customize the content of passwords. To learn more about point-of-sale security, click here

 

  • Reduction of the risk of human errors: Thanks to computer software, it is possible to see a considerable reduction in human errors that could occur in a manual system.

 

  • Access management: Access management increases the security of your point of sale, protecting all your data and confidential information. There are points of sale, such as Alice POS, which allows you to limit access by users, restrict who can make changes in the system or create and delete remote users, anywhere, anytime.  

 

  • Accessibility from anywhere: Depending on the point-of-sale software you use, the cloud solution is a feature that can be offered. Indeed, with a cloud-based solution, you can access your data anywhere in the world, at any time of the day. 

 

  • Better management of your store network: If you have a store network, or several banners of your store, it is important to have a computer system designed to manage your inventory. Here are some features that may be of interest to network managers: 

 

    • Visibility of the entire network: Computerized monitoring makes it possible to increase the visibility of all activities if you have a network of stores. A point of sale made for network management should allow you to track many aspects of the shops using the software (e.g. sales, catalog, reports, etc.). With a computerized system, this makes it possible to standardize and transmit information more quickly to all branches of your company. People with access to the system can therefore receive and send information in a consistent way. It is therefore possible to have a more global vision of what is happening in the network and to modify information or actions if necessary. Not all systems are designed for network management, Alice POS is designed to address their specific problems. Learn more here: https://alicepos.com/multi-store/

 

    • Effective price change management (networks): With effective point-of-sale software, such as Alice POS, a state-of-the-art system, effective price change management is an important advantage. It is possible to change prices in the computer system   

 

    • Efficient management of promotion changes (networks): This feature allows you to control and schedule promotions over time, across all your businesses if you are in charge of a network. With a computerized system designed for managing store networks, it is much easier and faster to set a precise time for sending promotions, which is not possible with manual tracking.

 

Disadvantages: 

  • Risk of data loss: This is a disadvantage if the system is not a cloud solution. In other words, if the data is not stored in the cloud and is stored on a local server, some important information may be lost in case of a fire, flood or hardware breakdown. 

In short, the implementation of a computerized inventory management system has many advantages, such as better organization, cost savings and significant time savings. It is the most effective and most widely used system in independent businesses, franchises, corporate networks and purchasing groups. 

Alice POS allows you to do all these features and more! To find out more about what Alice POS point-of-sale software can do for you, click here.

Robotic Tracking

This type of system is particularly interesting, but it is not used by the vast majority of companies. Indeed, few companies integrate robots that allow exemplary inventory management due to the high cost of implementation and maintenance. However, Amazon has revolutionized the field of inventory management through robotization. Robots perform human actions, but faster and more efficiently. For example, they are responsible for the transport between the delivery site and the persons responsible for receiving the product when a new package is delivered (source).  

To better understand this process, here is a video excerpt that shows an example of robotic inventory management in an Amazon warehouse:

https://youtu.be/VOX-SadV_Ns

 

Advantages: 

  • Time saving: A robotic tracking system ensures a much faster and more efficient delivery time to the customer. It is possible to notice a time saving inside the warehouse itself, either when the robots will place the package in the exact location, ensuring packaging and labelling. 

 

  • Reduced risk of errors: despite the fact that robots are not an infused science, the risk of human errors is practically non-existent. Robotic tracking thus eliminates these risks of errors and ensures impressive accuracy in inventory management.

 

  • Reliability: Robotic monitoring allows the company to keep a regular and constant pace, regardless of external conditions. Indeed, a robot will always do what it has been programmed to do and deliver quality work.

 

  • Saving time and money: Thanks to robotic tracking, you can save a lot of time doing work that was once done physically. In addition, the time and money you save to train new employees or simply hire new employees is a significant benefit. 

 

Disadvantage:

  • Expensive: A robotic system is very efficient, but very expensive. Indeed, costs vary according to the task that a robotic technology must perform. It is essential to ensure the return on investment before implementing a system of this type.

 

There are several inventory control systems, including the three systems presented above, each of which can meet specific needs depending on your business(es). It is therefore up to you to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each and choose which system is best suited to your needs and the needs of your company. 

 

Related Questions 

How do I know which inventory control system to use?

In order to choose a good inventory and inventory management system, it is important to list your needs and ensure that the system chosen meets your needs. If you have an independent business and do not sell many products, it may be possible to do a manual follow-up, since this is much easier. However, as soon as your company grows, or if you have a lot of stocks and several stores, it is recommended to adopt a computerized system, in order to secure your data, facilitate your management and save time. A robotic system is more suitable for large companies that will see a return on their investment.

 

How much does a computerized inventory control system cost? 

The price of an inventory control system can vary depending on your needs and the needs of your company. Prices vary if you have an independent store or if you have multiple stores and need more customized features, for example, Alice POS offers a price for small stores that starts at only $69/month and offers volume discounts for network stores based on your needs.

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