In our previous updates, we reviewed how Clear Spider will continue to serve our clients as well as those in the forefront against COVID-19. In the current climate of social distancing and work from home practices, many industries are experiencing additional stress on their supply chain operations. In speaking with our clients, we have identified one of the solutions that alleviates some of these challenges.
In this article, we will explain:
- the concept of Customer Managed Inventory (CMI)
- how to reduce human-to-human interaction in inventory management operations
- how to implement this solution in your organization quickly and effectively
COVID-19 Inventory Management Challenges
Currently, many organizations (such as grocery stores, telecommunications and IT infrastructure service providers, and construction facilities), outsource their inventory management to third party suppliers. The suppliers visit client facilities to count, record, and plan inventory. During regular business operations, this arrangement reduces labour costs for the client.
At this time, even with essential businesses staying open, many states and countries around the world are implementing stay-at-home policies, shelter-in-place orders, and lockdowns, resulting in many supplier organizations scaling back client site visits, or suspending site visits altogether. This course of action will reduce COVID-19 exposure, and protect the health and safety of employees and customers. However, this also results in many third party suppliers no longer conducting site visits at client facilities to track inventory. If your inventory levels are no longer properly tracked, your organization ends up dealing with inaccurate inventory counts, uncertainty in shipment and fulfillment capabilities, and ultimately, lost revenue.
Using Customer Managed Inventory (CMI) to fight against COVID-19
The idea of customer managed inventory is to give your organization the ability to manage your own inventory by consuming, counting, and tracking inventory changes at your own facilities without the need for a third party service. Combine this with the ability for your staff to do this on the road and at remote locations using a mobile app, and you’ve got a solution that reduces human-to-human interaction while giving you accurate and up-to-date inventory information.
Transitioning your current inventory management services from a third party service to a self-serve customer managed model is one of the best ways your organization can fight against COVID-19. You reduce the number of external people visiting your sites, and you help prevent the spread of the virus, while not putting a halt in your supply chain or inventory management operations.
How to Implement CMI
The CMI solution is easily and quickly implemented via a cloud-based system like Clear Spider. Your staff can manage, analyze, and optimize inventory flow remotely, and even from their own homes. You can consume, count, and manage inventory items at your facilities, on the road, and at forward stocking locations. There’s full visibility, and you reduce exposure to other organizations being in your organization’s physical space. Of course, you get the typical benefits of having a good inventory management system in place including being quicker to respond to changes in customer demands and having lower cost overruns due to over and understocking. By shifting this information and control up the supply chain, the bullwhip effect is reduced and inventory orders will reflect demand more accurately.
Here at Clear Spider, we want to make sure our expertise in inventory management is available to organizations across all industries – whether that’s industrial and manufacturing; energy and environmental; print and publishing; aerospace and automotive; transportation and logistics; retail and food services; technology and telecommunications; construction and maintenance; finance and banking; education, or fitness.