Windward Insider Blog
Review Your Inventory Management Style: Is Push or Pull Better?
Inventory control software can be configured to work with either push or pull management methods. But with uncertainty in the supply chain "Why not try a blended approach?"
There is an ongoing debate as to which inventory control method works best: ‘push’ or ‘pull.’ Each approach has its pros and cons that require careful consideration. However, for those who use reliable inventory control software, it’s possible to adopt a blended policy on inventory management systems with exceptional results.
The decision to use one method over the other will largely be based on the type of business you operate. The other determining factor will be your ability to meet product demand while limiting:
- Inventory control costs
- Carrying costs
- Ordering costs
- Missed opportunity cost
By understanding what is meant by push and pull inventory control, as well as the risks and rewards associated with each one, you’ll have a better idea of how to match your inventory management style to the needs of your customers while considering market conditions.
Push Inventory Management
This approach to inventory management relies on a company’s ability to forecast demand for their products. When coordinated effectively, you’ll be assured of having enough inventory on hand to meet any order request. Push inventory control requires careful business analysis to determine:
- Which products are in demand?
- What volume of products are expected to sell?
- Seasonality of product
- External market conditions
The more accurate and insightful your inventory control software is, the better positioned you’ll be to predict buying trends.
Of course, the primary risk with push inventory management is that if your calculations are off, you could be left with surplus inventory that will:
- Increase inventory costs
- Require additional warehouse storage
- Reduce profits (through product markdowns, for example)
However, reliable point of sale software systems like Windward System Five on Cloud that feature advanced reporting capabilities to give managers the insight they need to make accurate decisions. They can collect and analyze consumer data to identify buying trends based on:
- Annual sales variances
- Year-to-date comparisons
- Customer profiles (i.e. demographics)
Pull Inventory Management
Pull inventory, which is sometimes referred to as ‘just-in-time’ inventory, works in the complete opposite manner to push inventory. This strategy aims to drastically minimize inventory costs by providing products on an on-demand basis. In other words, when a client places an order, it gets forwarded to a supplier to be filled.
As you can see, this approach virtually eliminates the risk of being left with unsold stock. It also gives businesses greater flexibility to adjust to consumer buying trends as they unfold. When combined with the real-time reporting capabilities of POS software, your ability to adapt is significantly increased.
However, in order for this tactic to work, it requires a well-oiled supply chain. Businesses that follow this model:
- Are more reliant on their suppliers
- Are more likely to experience stock-outs and product delays
- Will likely have to place orders more frequently
Should your supply chain falter, it will have an adverse effect on customer satisfaction.
To learn more about the effect of just-in-time inventory, read: Inventory Control Software: Rewards and Risks of Just-in-Time Inventory.
Do you need inventory control software that works with your business management strategy?
Call Windward Software at +1(800) 663-5750 to see how our fully integrated business management system can be customized to the way you operate.
Resources included for current customers
There are also courses available in the Windward Learning Academy which should lay down a great base of knowledge for you.
Professional Services are available to deep dive into this topic beyond what is covered in your Maintenance plan. One of our Professional Services Specialists will dive into the topic of Managing Inventory Quantities to make recommendations that will help you adapt to today’s market dynamics and freshen up your best practices:
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