Why Is Grocery Inventory Management Software Important?
The range of inventory at grocery shops is huge. Irrespective of the size of the business model a grocery store opts for supermarkets, hypermarkets, mom-and-pop shops, and online grocery stores they are required to manage a wide variety of inventory. It becomes a challenge for the stores to track supplies and plan ahead. But to keep track of inventory in a grocery business isn't easy as the items on shelves sell quickly and at most times there are unpredictable demands. One has to periodically check stock levels and update records.
Grocery inventory management software is a problem solver. Implementing grocery inventory management software in the grocery business helps in keeping track of the supplies while also preventing overstocking, understocking, and efficiently managing demands. Much like other retail management systems, some of the Best Inventory Management software is designed to streamline the back-end processes of a grocery store creating an efficient workflow.
Also, reducing costs by automating many of the back-end processes. It also helps in reducing checkout time, as one can check inventory in bulk before making individual sales. In this article, we discuss how the grocery inventory management software could be utilized to its full potential in a simplified manner.
Ditch your Excel spreadsheet
Using Excel spreadsheets for Inventory Management is one of the most common practices, especially for a small business. There are hundreds of ideas to optimize excel sheets for inventory, but does it really work? Not necessarily. If you have a very small business on a shoestring budget, maybe it would. But once you start growing, there are better software options for inventory management that factors in the breakneck pace inventory (especially perishable inventory) requires and automates a lot of additional tasks too. Excel, contrastingly, can waste time and affect the business and the staff's effectiveness.
There are multiple reasons why you should consider ditching Excel spreadsheets for your
Inventory Management tasks. To begin with, Excel relies on a lot of manual data entry, which is time-consuming and requires a lot of effort. It also means that unless you don't update data manually, you won't get a real time checklist. Thus, it is unreliable and detrimental when there are urgent orders to be tracked. Also, if you are not hosting your spreadsheets in the cloud, Excel is limiting with access to only one person at a time.
Excel is a great visualization and analysis tool. It may prove to be very useful to your business too. But it's not custom-built for inventory management. And when your competitors have moved to a more modern solution like inventory management software that can be clubbed with a plethora of other software solutions like point of sale, QR codes, etc, you shouldn't lag behind.
Managing your inventory can be a real headache, especially if you’re running a small business.
You spend hours counting and sorting product, but what if there was an easier way?
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed a lot of things. One of the most important changes has been consumer behavior. Just in 2017, the grocery sector was still in the consideration stage. Some stores were lapping up the idea of embracing automation, while others hesitated. Cut to 2021. A McKinsey & Company report says, Customer reservations about buying fresh food online, along with high e-commerce fees and non-intuitive website designs, stunted adoption.
But the pandemic and the many restrictions that came with it like social and physical distancing, and repeated lockdowns changed the trajectory and accelerated the growth of automation in the grocery business. During the peak of the pandemic, grocers watched 20 to 30 percent of their business shift to online, driven by a sudden surge in demand for contactless shopping.
By the end of 2020, online penetration in grocery had settled at 9 to 12 percent threefold increase from pre-pandemic levels and in line with mature markets such as France and the United Kingdom. This disruptive shift happened at breakneck speed; in a matter of months, the grocery e-commerce landscape in North America accelerated by three to five years reports McKinsey.
While contactless shopping is one of the things, automation brings with it many advantages when it comes to Inventory Management at grocery stores-
- Automated systems follow a fulfillment process that starts when the customer makes an order. It ends with just the right number of products delivered to the store in which the order was placed. It saves the store's space, time and labor, making Order Management effortless and undemanding.
- With inflation, reduced profit percentage, and low margins, it is important to have a system that is efficient and helps in saving labor costs by reducing the work that goes into managing inventory. Automated systems do that by having appropriate Inventory Control.
- With its faster adaption technology, automated ordering technology notifies of out-of-stocks, while also helping grocery stores save backroom space, make shelf replenishment quicker and less disruptive.
Let technology do some of the work for you
The pandemic-led disruption set the grocery industry into motion. A lot of flaws in the system were revealed. At the same time, there were too many opportunities to seize. One of the most important is the use of technology and the way it could accelerate the grocery industry and the way it deals with its massive inventory.
One of the simplest technological shifts has been the implementation of Grocery POS systems. Point of sale software and hardware tools that enable users to automate some or all of the checkout process have existed for some time now. But the grocery stores embraced it completely in the last few years because of the ease of use provided.
Grocery stores usually have a tricky combination of high-volume sales and an inventory that largely consists of perishable items. The three major obstacles for most grocery stores, especially small businesses, are inventory management, POS, and payroll. Technology can solve all of these and more. More businesses are embracing technology and automation when it comes to payroll, finances, customer service, and accounting.
For instance, most modern point of sale (POS) systems can be easily integrated with inventory management. And the resultant technology can help a grocery store in simplifying online payment processing, tracking sales reports, tracking inventory, and procuring digital receipts. Grocery store POS software also helps in email and SMS marketing campaigns.
Furthermore, POS software helps a small business embark on the eCommerce space easier. Besides, a POS software integrated with inventory management helps in getting insights/analytics to make changes in the business.
Embracing a technological solution like the point of sale software means that you are easing a lot of your manual work by implementing self-checkout kiosks, contactless payments, etc. For example, Square POS software, a retail POS system, offers magstripe, chip, and contactless card readers for accepting payments via debit and credit cards, Google Pay, and Apple Pay.
Square Virtual Terminal enables payment collection through a computer, which allows merchants to key in card details so that no card reader is required. It becomes easier to make a sales report and also identify selling trends.
Perhaps, the role of technology was being underplayed in the grocery business. But now that it has taken prominence, a lot of the challenges could be tackled.
Leverage Cloud Computing
Countless businesses have transformed their operations and digital back-ends with cloud computing a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to manage, store and process data. Simply put, cloud computing is a range of services delivered over the internet, or cloud based system. Remote servers store and access data instead of local hard drives or data centers.
For businesses, it means that some of the traditional machines (heavy and space occupying) are being replaced. It is enabling retailers to reduce hardware and software investment. More companies are realizing the potential of cloud computing in reducing IT costs and simplifying systems. Grocery stores have realized the benefits as well.
Here are three things that leveraging cloud computing can do for your grocery business-
1. Improved Operations-
The cloud can integrate different verticals inventory, orders, etc and improve your restocking capabilities. This lowers costs and increases efficiency.
2. Insight into Business Performance-
Cloud computing helps in getting real-time details of consignments and orders. A business also gets digitized documents from suppliers, carriers, logistics providers, vendors etc making it easier to take inventory decisions. With cloud computing, retailers can have better supply chain visibility and a supply chain system that efficiently notifies of stock-outs, expedites deliveries, or manages high inventories.
3. Improves Customer Service-
Utilizing Software as a Service (SaaS), cloud computing works with Big Data to provide meaningful insights about customer preferences. This can help a business in a lot of ways -- from personalized customer service to understanding buying patterns.
Managing your inventory can be a pain, especially when you’re just beginning.
You have to keep track of your stock and make sure you don’t run out of anything.
Incorporate AI and Machine Learning
Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning accurately forecast demand. It ensures that your store has full shelves and the waste is less. Inventory Management which seemed like a herculean task has become an easily manageable one with AI. Maybe that's why the big players have lapped them up enthusiastically and are making as many modifications as possible.
But that does not mean that the small businesses can't have it as well. AI and Machine Learning help companies identify their unique needs that could be served with data and custom Machine Learning development. Besides synchronized and systematic inventory management, these technologies help in creating simplified check-out systems to improve the customer experience.
AI and data intelligence significantly improve pricing decisions. And, one cannot forget the autonomous service robots that are ensuring cleanliness, hygiene and convenience at grocery stores that are usually prone to be messy and chaotic because of the huge amount of inventory. The innovations are helping to build better and smarter grocery stores.
As businesses grow, product catalogs tend to become large and messy. Especially in a retail sector like grocery stores, the amount of inventory (most of it perishable) could make survival difficult if the systems are not optimized and if inventory control isn't proper. Most companies looking to grow beyond the traditional setup are leveraging the power of Software as a Service (SaaS), analyzing data through various modes from implementing retail point of sale (POS) systems and cloud computing to AI and machine learning.
The result already is and could be even more exhilarating as it boosts sales and enhances customer experience. Just a simple implementation of a grocery store POS system takes off the workload from the employees and makes everything easier from inventory management to payments.
Most of these technologies are easy to use and allow companies to position themselves ahead of their competitors and eventually increase their earnings.
Managing your grocery inventory can be a headache.
If you’re not careful, you could end up spending more time managing your inventory than actually running your store!