How to track inventory across multiple warehouses


Key takeaways

  • Right products, in the right location
  • Out-of-stock = 72% of consumers will go to competitor
  • Live warehouse and financial data
  • Landed costs across your portfolio

3 min read


Inventory management is challenging enough: optimising stock levels, tracking orders and deliveries, and managing the physical space. 

So, what happens when your business grows and one warehouse no longer cuts it?

As you add more warehouses to your distribution network, those challenges are multiplied.

The biggest problem you face with multiple warehouses is ensuring all the right products are stocked in the right warehouse location so you can fulfil orders on time, every time. 

Get this wrong and the stakes are high. A recent IBM study found that if an item is out-of-stock, 72% of consumers will switch to a competitor.

The good news is there are strategies you can put in place to streamline your inventory management across multiple warehouses:

Build your foundation with the right system

Chances are the legacy system you had for a single warehouse cannot keep up with the complex demands of multiple locations.  

You need a system that lets you distinguish between identical items stored in different locations, then choose the most appropriate location to receive supplies and fulfil orders according to stock levels. 

Another essential is for real-time data to be synced across warehouses, so you have visibility into location-specific inventory quantities, allocations, items in transit and costs, from a single platform. 

The benefits are game-changing: according to a US study, a single view of inventory can cut out-of-stocks by up to half.

For Australia’s second biggest distributor of coconut water products, Raw C, warehouse management was a huge pain point. The only way the business knew what was in its warehouses was by going into them every week and manually counting stock. With distribution centres in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth, this was an inefficient use of its resources. 

With MYOB Advanced, Raw C has access to live financial and warehouse data. Stock is easy to check and move, without any need for weekly stock takes

Understand inventory flow

Investing in the right software platform is only part of the solution; use the platform to unlock data insights into the ebbs and flows of your supply chain.  

How does supply and demand differ by location? Regional variations can occur due to local preferences, the customer demographic in a particular location and seasonal differences – especially across the vast expanse of Australia and New Zealand. 

Knowing how inventory flows from your warehouses through your supply chain networks will help you effectively maintain optimum stock levels in each warehouse. 

Manage costs per location

How much investment is tied in inventory in each warehouse? A big part of managing inventory across multiple warehouses is understanding costs.

With the right software, you can trust stock counts and see quickly how much your stock is worth in each location. You can also see the landed cost of every product, enabling you to adjust strategies. 

Let’s say there are differences in local transportation costs for your Sydney and Brisbane warehouses. The cost to your business in supplying the same product may vary depending on whether it’s dispatched from Sydney or Brisbane. Using real-time data lets you work out the most economical approach to fulfilment and improve your bottom line.

Standardise procedures across warehouses

Make sure all warehouses are managed in the same way. This means implementing standard processes and procedures for staff to follow. It might not be a popular decision but this will not only improve efficiency but also customer satisfaction as a result of a consistent buying experience.

If you’ve inherited warehouses or they’ve been added to in a piecemeal way, take the time to review and update processes and warehouse layouts. Without this, you won’t be able to achieve a consistent, central view of all stock across locations.

Summary

Expanding into multiple warehouses is just the first step to business scaling and growth. Without a streamlined inventory management system, you risk ending up with “out of stock” situations and frustrated customers - or worse, you’ll lose customers to the competition. The right ERP platform, like MYOB Advanced, can change the game, letting you optimise inventory management across locations, streamline your operations and gain visibility into data for future planning. 

Discover how to remove repetitive tasks

...and accurately track financials.

Download our guide to find out how.

To gain more insight into preventing cost overruns, talk to a MYOB consultant.