This is part of the Chainlane Interview Series, where we talk with supply chain professionals on the hottest topics, solutions, and thoughts on the industry.
Should you have your own supply chain/ retail tech insights to share with Chainlane’s readers, feel free to contact us at email@example.com for a potential interview.
This time, we talk with Inventory People about inventory counts, why accurate counts are so important, and how to conduct them.
The People Behind Inventory People
Tell us a little about the team behind inventory people
The executive and management team at Inventory People Incorporated have more than thirty years of experience, working globally with retailers, manufacturers, and 3PL providers developing and implementing complex inventory management solutions using state-of-the-art technology and inventory management professionals.
What was the beginning of the Inventory People team?
The team at Inventory People started working with retailers in the early 1990's right at the time when computer systems, UPC barcodes, SKU, and other database attributes were being introduced to the supply chain as a mean to manage their business better. Our team's expertise has since been globally recognized and our projects grew from exclusively working with retailers to commercial, industrial, automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, warehousing, 3PL, and other complex environments requiring innovative solutions to help our client manage their everyday inventory operations.
Are there any interesting stories or projects within your team or industry, which you're proud to share?
We are extremely proud to have worked and managed the largest inventory company in the world. Our executive team has worked in 7 countries and have moved their families around the world to work with some of the best retailers and best industrial clients. Our business has taken us to nuclear plants, mines in northern Canada, as well as car and heavy machinery manufacturers. We’re proud to have built partnerships with the best and most respected retailers, large and small.
About Inventory People
Tell us a bit about Inventory People as a company
We are an inventory solutions company offering physical inventory stocktake and RFID solutions to retailers, manufacturers, warehouses, and supply chain companies. We help our clients gain control and visibility of their inventory, stocks, and tangible assets.
Any awards, recognition, inspirations, or achievements worth mentioning?
Our team members have received numerous awards, namely most valuable partner, most productive inventory teams, business innovation award, and CEO award.
Please provide a little bit more info on your offering/s
We customize our inventory services to the needs of our customers. Unlike most of the inventory companies, our approach to stocktaking is 100% tailored to our clients' reality.
Tell us a bit about the different roles in Inventory People and their core values
At Inventory People, everyone has an important role to play. Our approach to the business is simple, roll up your sleeves, take part in the business, learn every day, and make yourself indispensable to the business. We think that our auditors are every bit as important as our account managers, our president, our IT specialists, or our external partners. We all have an important role to play to deliver an accurate count, to implement an RFID project or to successfully complete a complex project in a remote area.
Inventory Count and Accuracy
What's the importance of having an accurate inventory count, and what issues do inaccuracies cause?
Accurate information is at the heart of any business. Inaccurate data will always have a negative impact on our clients' operations. Our customers will demand accuracy no matter what the stocktake service may be. We are hired for full wall-to-wall counts, cycle counts, warehouse setups, RFID management and RFID implementation projects. Each project requires detailed planning every step of the way and every step that's included in a project should be in place to protect the accuracy of the process.
Why is it so difficult to achieve accurate inventory count, and are there any best practices to help reduce inaccuracies?
The five steps towards an accurate physical inventory count are:
- Understanding the client setup, the systems, and the environment you will be counting inventory in.
- Programming and updating the tools you will be using to capture the data.
- Customizing the reporting used to manage, count, and verify the data.
- Producing a robust yet simple set of counting procedure, specific to the client, so that everyone is working in the same pattern.
- Agreeing with your customer on roles and responsibilities.
The main challenge that most clients face when attempting to count their own inventory will often be their deep knowledge of their operations which often leads to taking shortcuts and making the wrong assumptions.
The lack of discipline or a break in the five steps listed above will inevitably lead to an inefficient inventory experience and an unreliable inventory stocktake.
Should companies conduct their own inventory count or outsource them or both? Why?
We believe that companies should be involved and committed to maintaining an accurate inventory at all times. An RFID system is an amazing way to keep control and monitor inventory no matter where it is in the supply chain. Best practices and procedures all the way through the supply chain is a must for any organization. We also believe that while most clients do a really good job at optimizing their operations, they should hire an external inventory company for a partial or a complete audit at least once a year. The combination between sound and disciplined inventory management processes and a reliable inventory company coming in to audit is the best way to manage.
What benefits can be gained for accurate counts...short and long-term?
When an item is traveling from the point of manufacturing to the store, running through transport and warehousing, your systems should be able to predict its availability to your customers. An accurate count will accurately reset your on-hand quantities and rid of any errors in your system, allowing a fresh start. However, while an accurate count will allow an accurate read on your merchandise, best inventory practices and a robust inventory management system, such as Chainlane is what will make a company win over their competition long term. Good inventory control practices combined with a robust inventory control system such as RFID and an external inventory company auditing periodically is the winning combination.
About the Supply chain
In your own words, how would you define ‘the supply chain’?
The supply chain is the interconnected points that material and finished goods take between their points of manufacturing to the end user.
What has changed in the Supply Chain since you’ve started in the industry?
The world has become a lot more compatible. The integration of systems and data has made it easier for companies and suppliers to optimize.
What are the most crucial supply chain pains, weaknesses, and areas that need solving?
Discipline, technology, training, consistency, regulation, integration, and compatibility are normally areas that require constant monitoring and adjusting. A supply chain is not a static process that once set up it is running. Adaptability is what makes the best of the best succeed.
What does “Inventory Accuracy” mean to you? Why is it so important for businesses?
“If we are not accurate, we do not exist.”
What do you think will be the biggest changes and innovations we’ll see for the supply chain within the next 10 years? 5 years? next year?
The geopolitical landscape, artificial intelligence & technology overall, employee turnover, aging population, and the rising costs of transportation will affect supply chains around the world the most in the next 3 to 5 years.
What do you recommend others industry professionals focus on in the coming year/s?
Focus on building long-lasting partnerships with clients as opposed to being a vendor that comes once a year to conduct an inventory count. The inventory company that will succeed in the future is the company that will take part of a long and permanent inventory control solution.
How would you describe your collaboration with Chainlane?
Our collaboration with Chainlane has been amazing. Not only did we learn the value of a solid partnership with an amazing company, but it also tought us to embrace RFID technology. Retailers themselves will embrace RFID technology no doubt, but will also seek for companies capable of supporting them through this journey. We believe that Chainlane partnering with Inventory People is the perfect and most sustainable solution for retailers in Canada.
How has Chainlane helped you or the businesses/clients you serve?
It gave us an opportunity to broaden our inventory control solution offering. It helped our clients step into RFID in a very simple and easy to implement solution, and it opened servicing opportunities to our clients.
How would you describe the process of working with Chainlane? From concept, to planning, to integration/implementation, soft launch, QA, and ongoing support and growth?
Working with Chainlane has been simply amazing. They are as hardworking and client focus as we are. It has simply become a natural and seamless extension to our company. The retailers using RFID and Chainlane along with Inventory People are experiencing the continuity and professionalism they should expect from companies with global experience.
In closing Where can people go and learn more about you, what you do, and your company?
Please visit us at inventorypeople.com or send us a quick note at firstname.lastname@example.org