One of FW Warehousing’s clients ships between five to 25 LTL (less than truckload) and truckloads with numerous SKUs (stock keeping units) every day. With that amount of inventory being dispersed, how does a company track everything in a timely and cost effective manner? The answer is: Inventory Management Systems.
According to Inventory Basics, the critical elements of an Inventory Management System are:
- Will organized location names
- Location labels that are easy to read and unambiguous
- Unique, short and unmistakable item numbers
- Units of measure
- A good starting count
- Software that tracks inventory activity
- Good Polices
- Most important: People who know and follow good policies: The people who work within a company and utilize the inventory system are the most critical element, which means these people must know what to do with items that are received, taken from stock, reserved for future use, required for production or who is responsible for making certain transactions, etc.
Inventory management systems are run off of inventory management software: “Inventory management software is a computer-based system for tracking inventory levels, orders, sales and deliveries. Companies use inventory management software to avoid product overstock and outages. It is a tool for organizing inventory data that before was generally stored in hard-copy forms or in spreadsheets.” 
“Modern inventory management systems must have the ability to track sales and available inventory, communicate with suppliers in near real-time and receive and incorporate other data, such as seasonal demand. The systems must be flexible, allowing for a merchant’s intuition, and must tell a store owner when it’s time to reorder and how much to purchase.” 
With the technology provided today there are even apps that can help businesses keep track of their inventory. According to Forbes, these are the top five apps for inventory management:
- Inventory Tracker is a comprehensive inventory tracking system for the iPad. The blog stated, “It works excellently in synchronizing inventory and comes with some really amazing features that would only be expected for a desktop.”
- SOS Inventory integrates with QuickBooks and offers expanded features, such as sales orders. Christina DesMarais for Inc.com reported, “It also lets individuals manage inventory in multiple locations, track items by serial number and cost history, track multiple stages of work-in-progress and create pick tickets and packing slips.”
- Retail Inventory functions as an inventory management system and can scan barcodes and sync with point-of-sale purchases made with a Cashier Live account.
- Amy Gahram for Entrepreneur.com reported, “Lettuce is more than just an inventory app. It integrates such systems as order capture, payment processing, shipping, tracking, customer relationship management and more.”
- The blog stated, “JumpStock is so interactive that it’s almost like having a human inventory manager on staff, saving man hours over the more time-intensive apps.” 
FW Warehousing is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri with Midwest warehouse distribution centers in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana totaling more than four million square feet. Founded in 1949 with a focus on food-grade storage, FW later broadened its services to include general warehousing, dry storage, hazardous material and chemical storage, temperature-controlled storage and product distribution and fulfillment. FW Warehousing has more than 60 years of experience in third-party logistics and has been ranked in the top 100 Third Party Logistic Companies in the country by Inbound Logistics Magazine.
1. Inventory management software (Wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/inventory_management_software
2. HowStuffWorks “How Inventory Management Systems Work” (HowStuffWorks) http://money.howstuffworks.com/how-inventory-management-systems-work.htm
3. The 5 Best Inventory Management Apps (Forbes)