Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Marketing to IT: Please Make Inventory Management Invisible, NOW!

Inventory management? A concern for marketing and information technology (IT) decision-makers? Oh, yes…

One of marketing's primary concerns is how a company is perceived. It turns out that how well your company manages its inventories of the things it sells is a primary determinant of how that company is perceived. Because if you can't deliver what I want when I want it, I'm going to be unhappy with you, regardless of how good your marketing or other operations might be.

Meanwhile, your customers, partners, prospects, competitors and purchase influencers are all increasingly participatory inhabitants of "the mobile, social cloud." Which means your company has to be there too. In ways that make your company more agile, responsive and, well, social.

And what do inventory management and inhabiting the mobile, social cloud have in common? Why, IT, of course. Unfortunately, at many if not most businesses, 60 to 80 percent of your IT budget is being spent on just keeping what you've already got working. Not exactly a running start on improvements in things such as inventory management.

What's a marketer to do?

Sit down with IT decision makers and convince them that this is a challenge you and they need to confront jointly. Then work with them to determine how and how well inventory is being managed now, and where improvements might be found most quickly. Then, look at some premise-based, cloud-based and cloud-enabled inventory management solutions and how they might help your company.

You can find a great rundown of several of these in an article published by Inc. in May 2011. My favorite: Fishbowl Inventory. It integrates with Intuit's QuickBooks and offers options that can take a company from better inventory management to more and better sales, fulfillment and resource planning and management, as recently covered by eWeek.

We in the punditocracy blather on incessantly about how business and IT have to get better at working together. A great way to foster such collaboration in meaningful ways is to focus on areas that avoid leaving money on the table while improving customer satisfaction, corporate perception and revenues. Improved inventory management can do all of these things.

A Special Offer: If you're interested in Fishbowl Inventory, drop a line to vip@fishbowlinventory.com. I've negotiated a relationship with the company that guarantees that every one of my readers who uses that e-mail address will get priority treatment and help getting started with their free trial of the software. And if you promise to share your feedback with me for possible inclusion in future blog posts or research (anonymously if you prefer), you'll get undying gratitude from me -- AND a five-percent discount from Fishbowl if you purchase Fishbowl Inventory! A win for everybody!

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