When you have an inventory-based warehouse, you know just how much data is behind your operation. This data gives you mission-critical insights into things like your products, how they’re performing, what type of inventory you need, and what your product life cycles are like. While this can result in a monumental amount of data, there are ways to simplify the way you interpret and utilize it. One way is with data visualization tools.
Think about it: visibility is everything when it comes to warehouse operations. Your warehouse data allows you to understand how your products move through the supply chain and can give you maximum control over things like inventory management. And while experts have said that supply chain visibility is “awfully low,” improving it is a priority for many in the industry, with 40% of supply chain leaders saying they’re increasing their investments into real-time supply chain visibility.
When it comes to your warehouse, finding ways to take advantage and leverage your data is critical for monitoring and improving operations. Data visualization tools can give you real-time insights into your inventory, so you always have full visibility of your operations.
Today’s warehouses are operating in unprecedented conditions, fueled by trends such as globalization and digitization. Warehouses in 2023 are expansive and complex operations, which can be influenced by outside factors in an instant. For small to medium-sized businesses, the top warehouse concern is often stock-outs. Other concerns include the fact that too much capital is tied up in inventory, and that too much time is spent reordering. The key to solving these and other warehouse pain points (while optimizing operations) is warehouse data, and how it’s used. And one of the best ways to view and leverage your warehouse data is with data visualization tools.
Warehouse data is an essential part of understanding operations, but it can only be incredibly helpful if it’s put to work in the right way. For example, if a warehouse or supply chain manager is combing through pages and pages of data-heavy spreadsheets, it’s very possible that key information will be lost. At the very least, processing and understanding data in this form consumes valuable time and can impact the decision-making process.
The truth is that many warehouses are operating inefficiently, especially when it comes to their data. Research tells us that 24% of small businesses still track their inventory with a pen and paper, and that the top issue in warehouses today is human error. Data visualization tools offer a modern and efficient solution to managing warehouse data, and subsequently improving warehouse operations. They can save warehouse managers time, provide critical insights instantly, and reduce the risk of human error from manual data calculations.
Data visualization tools are digital applications, platforms, or dashboards that take complex data sets and transform them into visual representations. The data might be represented in the form of charts or graphs, for example, and these tools allow warehouse managers and other leaders to clearly understand data instantly. Data visualization tools can be incredibly valuable for warehouse operations because they show critical insights which can then be used to drive informed decision-making. The data is displayed in easy-to-read visual representations, and can allow warehouse managers to quickly draw conclusions, and make comparisons, for example.
There are a few other main purposes of data visualization tools. Aside from simplifying complex data, these tools also allow for enhanced data analysis. Warehouse managers can more easily identify trends and patterns and gain deeper insights into their inventory. Data visualization tools also support swift pattern recognition, allowing managers to quickly identify things like seasonality, cyclicality, or other trends that might influence warehouse decision-making.
Warehouse visualization tools also allow for better communication around warehouse operations, both internally and externally, because they simplify complicated concepts and make the data more accessible. This can also lead to enhanced presentation and reporting around warehouse data.
Another key purpose of using data visualization tools in warehouses is that they enable real-time monitoring. In the fast-paced supply chain world, real-time insights are essential to accurate decision-making, and data visualization tools give leaders the power to track key performance indicators and metrics as they happen. Warehouse managers can instantly catch any issues, spot bottlenecks, and identify emerging trends.
Sure, warehouse data visualization tools might look great, but they do more for your operations than just serve an aesthetic function. Here are some of the main benefits of data visualization tools, and the exact ways they can transform how your warehouse operates.
Warehouse decisions heavily rely on data. Whether it’s game-time decisions on inventory, choices based on product performance metrics, or solving the root cause of a crippling bottleneck, data is the key. But if the data is confusing, dense, or time-consuming to sort through, making these critical decisions isn’t going to be easy. But when data is represented with a visualization tool, it can be swiftly interpreted and acted upon.
Never be in the dark about the performance of your warehouse again. Visualization tools allow warehouse managers to quickly identify key performance metrics and indicators. When these metrics are displayed on a real-time dashboard, managers can monitor and track their operations as efficiently as possible.
Inventory visibility is integral to supply chain management, but when data is complex, it can hinder visibility, instead of supporting it. Seventy-eight percent (78%) of C-level executives say they don’t have clear visibility into their own supply chain (despite investments), and this can be a real issue. One way to improve inventory visibility is with handy data visualization tools, which give you unparalleled insights into your warehouse and inventory operations.
Inventory management can be tricky to get right, especially in today’s day and age. For example, experts say that supply chain disruptions should be expected in 2023, due to reasons including global conflicts and economic issues. Warehouse managers can best set themselves and their operations up for success with efficient inventory management supported by data visualization tools. These tools can give you a clear view into your supply chain operations and inventory needs. You can keep an eye on the movements of goods, easily spot inefficiencies, anticipate disruptions, and optimize your processes overall.
Warehouse management comes with inherent risk, some of which is unavoidable. But as it turns out, certain risks can be mitigated and even avoided when you accurately interpret data with the help of data visualization tools. Briefly, you can identify and visualize risks, and even catch early-warning signs before they turn into full-blown problems. For example, you can always ensure you have the right inventory built up for certain stages of the product life cycle. You can also always make sure the right stock is physically moving to the right location, and that you’re prepared to ramp up production in times when demand is high.
There’s certain information you should be able to figure out at the drop of a hat. With data visualization tools, you’ll always have your most critical insights well within reach. For example, data visualization tools will help you answer questions about what you need to buy, what hasn’t shipped or sold yet, what you’re out of, what your most important items are, and if your inventory is actually turning.
Your warehouse data might be crucial, but it shouldn’t take you tons of time to process. When you’re dealing with large, complicated data sets, warehouse managers can waste tons of valuable time combing through them, looking for certain insights. Not only that, but there is a chance that human error could occur, and that insights will be missed, or misinterpreted entirely. These risks can result in tangible issues, with expansive trickle-down effects. But there’s good news: when warehouse managers are getting their insights from data visualization tools, they instantly have access to the meaningful data they’re looking for and can quickly distill meaning from it. Plus, the room for human error is reduced.
Warehouse operations can be complex, as can the data that comes with supply chain businesses. But the good news is that thanks to resources such as data visualization tools, supply chain managers can quickly assess their data, draw conclusions from it, and make decisions based on it. Data visualization tools give you real-time insights into exactly what’s going on inside your warehouse, so you can catch early-warning signs, stop issues before they progress, track metrics and KPIs, and ensure your stock is optimized.
We know so much about data visualization tools because they’re one of our specialties. At StockIQ, our supply chain planning suite helps you run efficiently, improve forecast accuracy, and reduce inventory levels. With our planning dashboards, you’ll get actionable data on Stock Outs, Dead Stock, Service Level, Turns, Safety Stock, Economic Order Quantity calculations, and more.Ready to optimize your warehouse operations and start leveraging your data to improve the way you work? Contact us today.