There are several jobs that one can have in warehouse operations. Whether it’s driving the trucks, managing shipping and receiving, or working in the office with accounting or purchasing, working in a warehouse can be a great career. One role, in particular, is an Inventory Manager. We’re going to answer what that role entails, and how one can be successful in that job.
What Does an Inventory Manager Do?
Inventory Managers work in a warehouse setting or office and may oversee materials, products, and supply of inventory. They act as a liaison between their warehouse staff and other departments in the business, so their role is very important. Their job description may vary based on the needs and size of an organization, but the key responsibilities and attributes they possess shouldn’t waiver too much.
What Are the Responsibilities of an Inventory Manager?
An Inventory Manager has many responsibilities, but there are 5 key parts of the role that they must be able to manage. They are going to be the one that people look to for leadership, guidance, and knowledge, so these are the areas of expertise they should have or will need to learn in their role.
Inventory Managers have a very important job in not only finding the best suppliers for their products but also maintaining those supplier relationships. They must be able to handle any concerns or issues coming from those suppliers, and be able to negotiate or re-evaluate those relationships if needed.
The Inventory Manager must be able to vet and evaluate the right suppliers for the company as well, and that may include firing existing suppliers to find someone better. They must know how to price products, discuss markets on national and global scales, and how to establish their place as a true competitor to gain the best suppliers.
Records and Documentation
The Inventory Manager is in charge of documenting all inventory tracking and reporting. Whether they delegate these tasks to a team or do it themselves, it’s their responsibility to keep accurate numbers to avoid inventory loss and miscounts. They can find software to help with this to avoid manual documentation and then supply reporting to the other departments.
Obviously, an Inventory Manager is going to be ultimately responsible for inventory tracking, especially since this one task affects all of the other aspects of the job. Inventory tracking includes making sure items stay in stock to avoid canceled orders or backorders with customers. It also helps to ensure proper pricing and stock numbers for accurate sales and avoid overstocking a product. A WMS can be a huge help to accurately track inventory and keep consistent records of it.
Replenishment is a very delicate process in warehouse management. Buying too much stock can lead to costly overstocks and require strategic discounts to move slow-moving stock. Buying too little stock can cause products to be sold at too high of a price which makes them less competitive, and can also lead to backorders and late or canceled orders with customers. The Inventory Manager may work with the Purchasing team and help create the right strategy for their inventory purchasing plan.
Liaison Between Departments
The Inventory Manager must know all of the ins and outs of the warehouse to do their job. This knowledge makes them the right person to be a liaison between all other departments. They can help connect the dots between the warehouse staff, shipping & receiving, accounting, customer service, and other admin departments. They may have to come to different departments regularly to solve any inventory issues throughout the day and will be a source of data and reporting that other departments rely on to do their jobs as well.
What Traits Should a Good Inventory Manager Have to Succeed?
There are definitely some traits that every Inventory Manager needs to have to do their job effectively and to succeed and grow in the role.
Inventory Managers, or any administrative manager, must have good leadership skills. They need to be able to confidently stand up to and for others and speak up when they need to. People will rely on them heavily and being able to lead and be a good role model will be major in their success as an Inventory Manager.
Extensive Product Knowledge
Although product knowledge may be learned on the job, they must know they will be required to know all of the ins and outs of the product the business provides. They should go through thorough product training and be able to at the very least, know the basics of each product or service within the business. Often, managers in warehouse settings will go through just as much product training as customer service, so that they can accurately price and sell these times.
The use of warehouse management systems and inventory tracking software may require quite a bit of technical abilities to train on these programs. Most WMS will be quite user-friendly, but it will most likely be that the Inventory Manager will need to be especially savvy on these programs so they can train and assist their employees when issues arise.
Communication and Relationship Skills
Proper communication is key to managing a department, and being able to lead teams appropriately, especially in high-stress environments. Since Inventory Managers are also in charge of managing vendor relationships, they must have great relationship skills to maintain and grow those business relationships.
Be a Big Picture Person
To see how all of the points of the workflow work together, one must be able to see the big picture. When it comes to warehouse planning and management, the Inventory Manager must be able to see how they all work together and for each other to get to the final results. Inventory planning requires lots of data analysis of past and present data points to plan for the future, so seeing the big picture is critical.
Forecasting is a major part of getting accurate inventory in the warehouse. Having experience in forecasting would be a big leg up for any incoming Inventory Manager. Forecasting requires knowledge of target markets, supply and demand, data analysis, and massive industry knowledge. An Inventory Manager who can confidently forecast upcoming demand for their industry makes them highly competitive and ultimately beneficial for any business. If you can’t forecast appropriately, you will have a tough time inventory planning.
Thorough and Organized
Lastly, to thrive in this role, one must be very detail-oriented and organized. Inventory planning requires organizing products into categories like families, packs, bundles, etc. It’s important to be able to organize data in a way that not only makes sense but is a valuable tool for the business to use to accurately organize and purchase inventory. With as much data as an Inventory Manager will review, they must also be highly detailed oriented. One mistake in a report or spreadsheet can mean dire results further down the line.
If you don’t already have a qualified Inventory Manager for your business, consider hiring one that has all of these qualifications. They are a critical part of your administrative duties in your warehouse and can improve both inventory planning and pricing strategy. If you are looking for a tool to assist your Inventory Manager in their role, try our fully comprehensive WMS, TopShelf.