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Back to Inventory Basics

By APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE | 0 | 0 | June 22, 2012
It’s one of the fundamental ideas on which APICS was founded 55 years ago__inventory control__and it’s still relevant today. Last week, Capital Business, a publication of the Washington Post, ran the article “Retailers using high-tech solutions to manage inventory.” These solutions include iPhones, big data, and radio frequency identification. 

It would have been hard to imagine iPhones in 1957, let alone that they would be major tools for inventory management. However, the retailer Lowe’s is counting on them to track inventory, improve customer service, and more. According to the article, Lowe’s purchased 42,000 iPhone 4s to go to work in stores across the country last September. “Retailers are pouring more money into software and technology to better align and automate the distribution of goods,” Danielle Douglas writes.

The US Commerce Department reports that merchants increased their inventories only 0.6 percent in April. With uncertainty over the economic recovery and consumer spending, retailers are aiming to keep inventory low, which makes management of that inventory essential.  

“Tracking product demand via mobile devices, or other forms of technology, analysts say, can offer a more precise method for ordering, storing, and restocking merchandise.”

The article also highlights how technology can help retailers move inventory. For example, an iPad app created by Lemur Technologies connects customers with goods, telling them where their desired product is and when it goes on sale.

Using your resources

Although iPhones and iPads might not jump to mind when we think about emerging operations technologies, the Capital Business story illustrates some growing trends. According to the APICS Operations Management Body of Knowledge Framework, emerging operations technologies “change the way businesses operate. The rate of change continues to increase, creating new opportunities while simultaneously threatening existing operations methodologies.”  

As supply chain and operations management becomes more globally complex and incorporates increasingly advanced technological solutions, you must continue to contemplate the pillars of this profession__inventory management being one. 

APICS has a variety of resources that can help you embrace best practices and new ideas related to inventory. For those new in the field or looking to gain greater comprehension, the APICS Principles of Inventory Management series will impart an operational knowledge and understanding of inventory management principles and techniques, roles and responsibilities, and the impact that inventory can have on a business.

Of course, earning your APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) designation puts you in an exclusive group of peers. It demonstrates to your colleagues, employer, and potential employers that you have mastered the ability to evaluate production and inventory activities across a company’s global operations. 

For the last 55 years, inventory management has been a key to successful business. Do you have the necessary skills to grasp and maximize this key business strategy now and in the future? APICS can help.

Idea exchange

Now, you can take the APICS Operations Management Now discussion to your social networks on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and the APICS Supply Chain Channel. Be sure to use the hashtag #OMNow and include @Tweet_APICS in any tweets to have your words featured on the APICS homepage.

  • Are there any examples in your organization of using new technologies for inventory management? If so, what advantages have they brought?
  • Has your company experimented with consumer apps for tablets and smartphones? If so, what have you learned from these endeavors?
  • In what other ways has inventory management changed in the last 55 years?
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