Product tracking continues to revolutionize the way that producers and suppliers ship goods, create new batches, and organize their warehouses. Technology has only helped the latest trends, encouraging more innovation in several exciting fields, and making product tracking technologies easier to use for everyone. We’ve taken the pulse of the product tracking market, and come up with several advantageous changes that are making your logistics easier to manage than ever before.
1. Item-Level Tracking
Item-level tracking refers to processes that – typically through RFID tags or similar technology – keep tracking of inventory on a unit by unit basis, instead of just by pallet or batch. It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of this trend and the ways it can affect multiple industries as tracking solutions drop in price and become available for more businesses. Inventory management grows more automatic, shipping problems become easy to identify, and new orders become incredibly accurate.
2. Inventory Control
Inventory made inroads into real-time management in 2013, but the trend will increase in 2014 and become available for all types of businesses up and down the supply chain. Using a mixture of tracking, wireless technology, and new management software, even small companies can keep constant track of their inventory unit by unit. Automatic ordering and immediate decisions making will grow more common, so that businesses can adjust their ordering to meet unexpected demand, chart growth patterns they may not have noticed, or simply plan ahead to switch out inventory based on seasonal changes.
3. Cross-Company Compatibility
This is a big deal for more complex industries and supply chains that extend for long distances. The latest tracking technologies, codes and frequencies are being standardized by associations so that multiple companies can use them. As products move through the supply chain, data can now be handed off to the next company – and the next – with greater ease. It will only grow easier with time, saving all businesses in the supply chain money and time while delivering better tracking data with no strings attached.
4. A Push Forward Toward the Retailer
Item-level tracking and similar technologies are pushing power forward to retailers. More and more frequently, inventory decisions and information will originate in the retail sector, where businesses will be able to track exactly what products are selling, what remains on shelves, and what they need to order more of – right now – to meet current demand. As a result, retailers are going to get more picky about the suppliers they use, marketing will start focusing more on retailers, and some production systems will need to shift to understand real-time retailer decisions.
The consumerization of product tracking is a boon to all production and delivery companies. The days of confusing interfaces, weird menus and lengthy training sessions are diminishing. In their place new systems (often cloud-drive) are rising, organic solutions that are simple to learn and easy to master, with data and interfaces that anyone can understand. This was once a big barrier to adoption, but now developers are stepping up and creating solutions that any business can use without taking three tech classes.
6. Big-Time Work in Smaller Environments
Prices are dropping, and with a little help from the consumerization trend, high-class tracking technologies are finding their way into even the smaller business operations. Today product tracking solutions can start small and scale as needed. Expect to see RFID, warehouse management systems, and cloud-based delivery management in even small companies. The benefits remain the same, while the costs of starting early are continuing to drop. It will not take long for smaller businesses to realize that they can start tapping into some of the advanced technologies of the big shippers to help guarantee their own quality or save some extra money.