Delivrd: Working with Suppliers

9 Tips for Working with Suppliers

For a successful business, it’s crucial not only to find the right supplier but also to establish ongoing relationships with them. Here are some tips and tricks that may help you when working with suppliers.

  1. Note Differences in Time Zones. Remember that if your supplier is located in time zone different than yours, e.g. Europe and the US, it may impact the delivery time and costs.
  2. Pay Attention to Differences in Business Culture. Be prepared that in some countries, attitude is more laid back so adhering to lead times might be limited, whereas other cultures are more accurate. You may also experience issues such as differences in law, quality expectations, language barrier, etc.
  3. Know Differences in Currency. It’s great if your inventory management system supports multiple currencies and exchange rates, as your currency may differ from the supplier’s currency.
  4. Know Differences in VAT Rates. Each country, even each state in the US, has its own VAT rate. Check out the Wikipedia article which has a table of VAT rates for various countries, and be sure to have this table at hand.
  5. Prepare Product Descriptions Beforehand. While you are waiting for new stock to arrive, you can create product descriptions but not publish them until you receive the stock. It may save you lots of time.
  6. Have More Than 1 Supplier for the Same Product. It won’t hurt to have a backup plan for high-selling items in case of issues with a primary supplier.
  7. Regularly Communicate with Your Suppliers. It would be nice to develop the habit of discussing the progress of your business with suppliers.
  8. Use Inventory Management Software to Monitor and Evaluate Your Suppliers. It’s good to keep a database of your suppliers, so that you could store information about them, easily create replenishment orders, and make remarks about the quality of your cooperation.
    Delivrd offers a convenient feature for managing business partners, including the suppliers. Specifically, you can rank the quality of each shipment that you receive from your supplier.
  9. And the most important advice – Pay Your Invoices on Time, according to agreed payment terms.

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Delivrd: Inventory Manager

Superpowers of an Inventory Manager

An inventory manager is not just a guy lost somewhere between the warehouse racks. Actually, this position requires a unique, “superhero” set of skills, which will streamline a business, if properly applied. Before we dig deeper into those superpower skills, let’s take a look at typical daily activities of an inventory manager.

Superhero Inventory Manager: Daily Routine

 

  • Recording the Inventory. An inventory manager should keep a complete list of company’s SKUs and their characteristics as well as constantly update this list. For smaller companies, an Excel spreadsheet would be enough, but larger companies should use more sophisticated ERP and inventory management tools. Delivrd provides the convenient and easy-to-use Inventory List functionality.
  • Controlling the Stock. Inventory managers are responsible for tracking and controlling the available inventory items. They should always be aware of the number of new items that come from replenishment orders, and they should know which items are either low in stock or overstock. For these purposes, inventory managers can use specialized software such as Delivrd, with which they can count inventory, register issue/receipt, view transaction history, and more.
  • Working with Suppliers. A superhero inventory manager is responsible not only for finding reliable and cost-effective suppliers, but also for maintaining long-term partnerships with them. In smaller companies, an inventory manager can also process replenishment orders for purchase and delivery of new inventory items. Delivrd makes it possible both to keep a list of suppliers and manage replenishment orders with those suppliers.
  • Coordinating the Warehouse Staff. In larger companies, an inventory manager can lead a team of warehouse employees and control how they receive and record new stock. In other words, they should make sure that each item is on its place and there are no shortages.

This is just a rough list of what a superhero inventory manager can do during the day. But it’s not enough just to do it – it’s important how to do it. Let’s see which skills are essential for a true inventory management superhero.

Superhero Inventory Manager: Superpowers

 

  • Strong Math Skills. A superhero in the sphere of inventory management should definitely be a math genius. Unfortunately, inventory management software cannot replace human input by 100%, as the stock amount that is available on warehouse shelves should correspond with the amount in the database. And of course the role of an inventory manager requires more in-depth calculations during the inventory planning and forecasting activities.
  • Brilliant Knowledge of Data Analysis and Forecasting Methods. A good inventory manager should be proactive, not reactive. In other words, they should be able to research the current situation with inventory, make forecasts for the future, and always have a backup plan for emergency cases.
  • Multitasking. A job of an inventory manager is quite versatile, from counting and replenishing the inventory to hiring and managing the warehouse staff. Ability to handle all of those tasks and not to go crazy is for sure a superpower!
  • Organizational and Communication Skills. Ability to negotiate with suppliers, make profitable deals, organize supply and delivery – all of this belongs to organizational and communication skills that an inventory manager should possess.
  • Leadership Skills. As we’ve mentioned earlier in this article, an inventory manager can also be responsible for coordinating other employees and keeping them motivated, so leadership skills are vital here, too.
  • Personal Qualities: Reliability, attention to details, ability to concentrate.

Wow… Seems that being a superhero inventory manager is quite a challenge! But it only seems to be that hard. Actually, if any person, not only an inventory manager, enjoys what they’re doing, they prove to be the most motivated and dedicated employee. Do you agree?

PS: We at Delivrd are doing our best to help our users automate inventory management processes of their companies. Try our free app and see if it can help you become an inventory management superhero!

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Basic Inventory Management with Delivrd

Note: For up-to-date guides on using Delivrd, please refer to official Delivrd documentation.

Many of our Beta users are looking for a very simple inventory management solution, which will allow them to build a basic product catalog, updated initial inventory levels for each product, and then keep inventory levels updated – either by receiving products to inventory (for example, from suppliers) or issuing products from inventory (for example, for customer orders).

Delivrd now supports this simple inventory management scenario with the addition of stock receiving and issuing. Delivrd already support receiving products to inventory with a replenishment (purchase) order, and issuing inventory to customer orders, but now, if you look to receive or issue stock without having to create orders, there’s a simple way to do that in Delivrd.

Basic inventory management process

1. Create your products – You can either create products manually or import them from a csv file.

2. Update initial stock quantities – you do this by using the ‘Count’ action from the inventory page. This should be done immediately after a product has been created.

3. Update inventory quantities to reflect inventory movements – you use inventory ‘Receive/Issue’ transactions to reflect actual inventory movements.For example, if you receive 5 pieces of a product from a supplier, you should select the ‘Receive to Inventory’ transaction. If you sold 3 pieces, you should use the ‘Issue from Inventory’ transaction.

4. To view all of your inventory movements, you can use a product’s transaction history.

Video tutorial – basic inventory management in Delivrd

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Packaging Materials Management in Delivrd

Note: For up-to-date guides on using Delivrd, please refer to official Delivrd documentation.

This how-to guide explains why and how you should manage your packaging materials in Delivrd, the free online order fulfillment and inventory management solution.

What are packaging materials?

Packaging materials are used in the packing phase of the order fulfillment process as containers of actual products you sell to your customer.

Delivrd only manages one, primary packaging material. If you use several different packaging materials to pack a single product (for example, you pack several pieces of a certain product into a bag, and then place several bags into a carton box), you can only manage one of them in Delivrd. In the example above, it makes sense to manage the carton box as a packaging material, but it’s up to you to decide.

There are many different packaging materials you can use, each one with its own unique characteristics.

Some examples:

Padded Envelopes:

"Padded Mailer" by Surv1v4l1st - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Padded_Mailer.jpg#/media/File:Padded_Mailer.jpg

Poly Mailer:

Carton Boxes:

"Umzugskarton" by HornM201 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Umzugskarton.jpg#/media/File:Umzugskarton.jpg

 Creating Products for Packaging Materials

The first products you have to create in Delivrd are your packing materials, because when you will start creating your sell-able products, you will need to define which packaging materials are used for packing them.

Since managing packaging materials is very similar to managing any other product, creating products for packaging materials is almost identical to creating other products, with one very important difference: you have to define the product as a packaging material.

You can do this by navigating to the ‘Packaging‘ tab in the product information tab, and setting the check-mark in ‘Packaging Material?’ field:

Packaging material

Replenishing Packaging Materials

To replenish your packaging material stock, you create replenishment orders for your packaging materials as you would to any other product. The product receiving process is also identical – once it is completed, inventory  levels of packaging materials will be updated accordingly.

Consumption of Packaging Materials

Packaging materials are consumed during the packing process.

In Delivrd, each product you sell has a packaging material assigned to it. When a customer order is created, the packaging material is automatically added as a separate line to the customer order.

If a customer order has more than one product, more than one packaging material will be added to the order. So if the order contains 3 different products, 3 packaging materials will be added to the order. If you decide to pack all 3 products into a single packaging material (for example, into a single large padded envelope), you need to remove the packaging material lines that are not going to be used in the packing process.

Packaging Materials Delete

When you pack your order lines, packaging materials are consumed once a shipment have been created and shipped. Inventory levels of the packaging materials are automatically decreased in accordance with the amount of packaging materials that were used for packing.

Wave Packing

Availability of Packaging Materials

When you create a customer order, Delivrd check for sufficient inventory levels of packaging materials against the quantity required by all open customer orders.

If you have a shortage of packaging materials, Delivrd will highlight these shortages in the Edit Customer Order or View Customer Order page:

Packaging Material Availability

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Inventory Management in Delivrd

Note: For up-to-date guides on using Delivrd, please refer to official Delivrd documentation.

This how-to guide explains how inventory is managed within Delivrd. Inventory management is one of Delivrd’s key features and as such, reflects upon all processes supported by Delivrd.

Inventory Types

There are two types of inventory in Delivrd: Regular and Damaged. They should reflect the actual condition of your products – Regular inventory can be used for order fulfillment, while damaged products should be sent to your supplier for repair/replacement, or thrown away.

 

Inventory in Inbound Processing

Inbound processing starts with a replenishment (purchase) order, where you order products from your suppliers. You can receive the products from that order directly, or you could create a shipment, and then receive the products through that shipment.

When you receive the ordered products, you can examine the quality of each piece and based on its quality receive it as regular inventory or damaged inventory.

Either way, when you receive products, stock level are increased by the quantity that was received.

receive_quantity

Inventory in Outbound Processing

When you pick, pack and ship products to fulfill your customer orders, inventory levels are decreased according to the quantity that was shipped.

You can only ship regular inventory, not damaged inventory.

Wave Packing

Availability Check for Customer Orders

Whenever a new customer order is created in Delivrd, a check is performed to ensure that you have enough available stock to fulfill your customer order (or orders).

Usually, you would import several orders together, and Delivrd will calculate the quantity required to fulfill all these orders, and if an inventory shortage was identified, it will mark these orders:

Availability Check

For each order, you can view order quantity, total required quantity for each order line product (taking into account all open orders), and the actual available quantity:

Available stock per customer order

Returns

There are two types of returns in Delivrd: return to supplier and return from a customer.

Return to Supplier

You can create a return order to your supplier. You can return either regular inventory (if, for example, the supplier sent you a larger quantity than was agreed), or damaged inventory.

Returning products to a supplier decreases inventory levels according to the quantities in the return order.

Return from Customer

For various reasons, customers return products. Here two, you can either receive the returned products to Regular Inventory or to Damaged Inventory.

Inventory Count

You can use Delivrd’s Inventory Count feature to update your inventory levels to reflect actual inventory quantity. Due to many reasons, over time,  the inventory quantities updated in Delivrd might differ from actual quantities. If that happens,you can count the products and update the actual quantities in Delivrd.

Serial Number and Inventory Management

Using serial number management in Delivrd provides an increased level of inventory control, as inventory is managed at the piece level (each piece is uniquely identified), as oppose to at the product level.

The Serial Number Management how-to guide explains how that works.

Serial Numbers List

Inventory Management of Packing Materials

Another one of Delivrd’s unique features is packaging materials management. Since packaging materials (bubble padded envelopes, poly mailer, carton boxes etc.) are represented in Delivrd’s with their own product, inventory for these materials can be managed just like any other product.

Example: product for packaging material Padded Envelope. Available inventory quantity: 97

padded envelope inventory

You can use replenishment orders to order the packaging materials from your suppliers, and you should receive your packaging materials to stock, just like you order any other product.

You can also update the inventory quantity of these material by using Delivrd’s count function.

Additionally, every shipment you create from a customer order, has a packaging material assigned to it. When shipping is completed, inventory levels of the packaging material is decreased, based on the quantity that was used for packing the shipped products.

Example: this order has one line of  the product ordered (line no. 10), and another line (line no. 9999), detailing the packaging material used, and the quantity that will be used for packing this order.

edit_order

 

Safety Stock

When creating a new product in Delivrd, you have to enter a safety stock quantity. When inventory levels fall below the safety stock quantity, quantities in the Inventory list page turn red. You then need to replenish your inventory (usually in the form of a replenishment order from your supplier).

Negative Stock

Delivrd allows your inventory level to go negative (meaning, inventory quantity can be less than 0). Negative stock can only occur if you have not managed your inventory properly. For example, if you received to stock 3 pieces but you actually got 5 pieces from your supplier, when you ship the forth (4) piece, Delivrd will show a negative stock of 1 piece (-1).

If you have negative stock, you should immediately count your inventory so that Delivrd reflects the actual product quantities you have on hand.

Product Transactions History

A powerful tool to analyze your stock situation is the product history vector. Every inventory transaction (goods receipt, ship to customer, inventory count, return) is presented with its date, quantity and impact on overall inventory. The column Cum. Qty shows how inventory has changed over time with respect to each transaction.

Product Transaction History

Inventory Chart

The inventory chart provide a visual representation of your stock situation over time, compared to safety stock levels.

Inventory chart

Inventory List

This page lists all products, regular inventory and damaged inventory quantities, and the replenishment quantity – this quantity is the quantity that was ordered from suppliers but was not received yet (meaning it is either awaiting shipment from the supplier or was already shipped and it is on its way).

In Inventory list, if inventory quantity is below safety stock levels, quantity will be shown in red.

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Creating Partners in Delivrd

Note: For up-to-date guides on using Delivrd, please refer to official Delivrd documentation.

This how-to guide explains how you create partners in Delivrd, the free inventory management and order fulfillment cloud solution.

Partners in Delivrd describe the people and companies which are part of your supply chain. In Delivrd, there are 4 types of partners:

1. Supply Sources – This are the people or companies that are the source of the products you sell. These can be a factory which produces the products you sell, an online marketplace such as Amazon, eBay or Ali Express, or in some cases, the direct supplier of your products

2. Suppliers – These are the ones who supply your products.When you create a new replenishment (purchase) order, you select the supplier of your products from the suppliers list.

When you create a new supplier, you need to select the supply source of this supplier. For example, if you buy your products from a supplier names jung.jong who sells his products through AliExpress, jung.jong is your supplier, and AliExpress is the source of supply.This is similar for Amazon or eBay sellers, where the supply source is eBay or Amazon, and the seller himself is the supplier.

3. Sales Channel – These are the channels you sell your products through. This can be Amazon, eBay, Shopify, your own e-commerce website, or even direct selling, where you sell to customers face-to-face. You need to create your own sales channels, based on your own needs.

4. Couriers – These are the couriers you use to ship your products. Possible couriers are the postal services, DHL, UPs, FedEx etc.

Before you create your first replenishment (purchase) order, you must first create at least one supply source and one supplier

Before you create your first customer order, you must first create at least one sales channel and courier.

Video Tutorial: Create partners in Delivrd

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Receive Ordered Products from Suppliers

Note: For up-to-date guides on using Delivrd, please refer to official Delivrd documentation.

This guide will explain how to receive products that you ordered from your suppliers. Receiving the products in Delivrd, the free order fulfillment and inventory management software, will update their inventory levels, serial numbers (if they exist), and update the status of the shipment/replenishment ordered that we used to order these products.

As explained earlier, Inbound Shipments are created in Delivrd based on Replenishment orders (sometimes called Purchase Orders).

Received Shipped Products To Stock

To receive ordered products and update your inventory, we first need to find the inbound shipment we created in Delivrd. You can do that by searching for the shipment with the tracking number.

Here’s a screenshot of a shipment I received from one of my suppliers, VolumeRate. The tracking number was updated in the shipment I created in Delivrd, and it is printed on a nice barcode which I can actually scan right into Delivrd to easily find the shipment:

shipment_tracking_number

This shipment contains 10 pieces of one of the products I sell on eBay – envelope style leather case for iPhone. I get each piece with a label with the sku number on it (359913) and another label with a unique serial number for each piece:

shipment_products

So you can either type the tracking number of scan it, and once the shipment is found, from the Actions drop-down menu, select ‘Edit’:

search_shipment

From the edit shipment page, go to the page’s ‘Action’ menu and select ‘Receive Shipment Products’:

shipment_receive_products

You will be transfered to the ‘Receive Shipment Products‘ page. Here, you’ll get a list of all products you ordered and were sent in this shipment. To perform the actual products receipt, click on the ‘Receive’ button of each product:

products_recieve_to_stock

You will then enter the quantity you actually received (in the example below, order quantity was 10, and quantity received was also 10):

receive_quantity

The most accurate method to determining the actual quantity received is to count each piece you received in your shipment, and then update this quantity as the quantity received in Delivrd. Alternatively, you can rely on the quantity printed on the delivery note he sent (thus trusting your supplier he did not make any packing mistakes). If you choose to rely on the delivery note your supplier sent, you can use serial numbers scanning (if available) to verify that quantity.

Receive Serial Numbers

One of the strongest features of Delivrd is serial number management. Using serial numbers you can uniquely identify each piece in your inventory. That means improved inventory accuracy, and minimizes mistakes in the order fulfillment process.

One of my suppliers, VolumeRate, labels each piece of any product I order from him with a barcode containing a unique serial number. Whenever I receive a shipment from him, I scan the serial number barcode of each piece I get. It only takes a couple of minutes to complete the process, but once I’m done, I know exactly how many pieces I’ve received. Also, even more importantly, I can scan the serial number barcode when I fulfill customer orders, which eliminates packing & shipping mistakes to almost zero! (more on that in later posts).

To receive serial numbers to Delivrd, I click on the ‘Serials’ button from the ‘Receive Shipment Products‘ page:

recieve_serial

In the ‘Add Serial Number’ page, I can see the quantity received (see previous step), the number of serials I’ve already scanned, and the order number.

The cursor is placed automatically in the Serial Number box, so I can just continually scan all barcodes of serials I received in the current shipment, until I’m done:

scan_serial

Once all pieces have been scanned, I can compare the quantity I received to the quantity I scanned. If there are differences, there are some pieces missing – I either did not scan all of them, or the supplier shipped the wrong quantity.

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Create Replenishment Order – Example

Note: For up-to-date guides on using Delivrd, please refer to official Delivrd documentation.

In our last tutorial, we explained how you create replenishment (purchase) orders in Delivrd. We will now walk-through an example of a real replenishment order I created to order some products I sell on eBay.

I use various suppliers to source my products, but my favorite one is VolumeRate (from now on, referred as VR-VolumeRate). Products are not sold cheap there, but VR is a very reliable supplier, and more importantly, he ships his products well-packed, all products are labelled with both SKU number and a serial number barcode. And that’s awesome, because I don’t have to label each piece I buy. Here’s an example of those labels:

iphone_leather_case

When we will walk-through receiving shipped products from a supplier, I will explain why these labels are so great, and actually worth the extra $$ I pay VR.

But first thing first, we need to create a new replenishment order. In the example to follow, I purchased 2 products: Glossy screen guards for iPhone 4 and protective back-cover for iPhone 5, totaling 45 pieces.

Here’s how the order details look on VR’s website:

vr_OrderDetail

Important things to notice are the Order # , in the top left corner of the screenshot, and the SKU numbers.

I will use VR Order # as reference order number in Delivrd, and any time I will need to lookup that order I will use the Order # as a search term.

SKU’s, as you might have notices so far, are very important in Delivrd,as they are used to uniquely identify products. When I created the two products in the order, I’ve used the SKU’s that VR uses. I could have basically used any unique number for an SKU, but since VR already manages SKUs, and even labels products with those SKUs, it makes sense to use VR’s.

This is the header information of this order, from the view replenishment order page:

Delivrd_repl_order

The order # (230) is the order number that Delivrd has assigned to this order. The reference order number is VR’s order number. Total shipping costs for this order were $12.21. I estimated that the products would arrive mid-April, but that was just a guess.

The order lines for this order, and the total for this order, including shipping costs, are as follows:

Delivrd_reporder_lines

Once the order have been created, you can change any details you want, including removing/adding new lines.

After all order lines have been added and changes completed, the replenishment order should be reviewed and released.

You can review the order in the view order page or in the edit order page, and release it by clicking on ‘Release’ from the Actions menu, in the top right-hand side of the page:

release_repord

What happens next is, I usually wait a couple of days until VR ships the products. When that happens, I get a tracking number from VR. I then create an inbound shipment, to keep track of the order’s shipment.

 

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Create New Replenishment Order

Note: For up-to-date guides on using Delivrd, please refer to official Delivrd documentation.

In the previous guide we described how to add a new product to Delivrd. The next step, after the product has been created, is to create a replenishment order from your product’s supplier. Other systems often use ‘purchase orders‘ to describe an order from a supplier, but I prefer to use replenishment, as it better describes the purpose of this type of order – make sure you always have available inventory to fulfill your customer’s orders.

Like most types of orders, replenishment orders are made up of two parts: a header and details.

Replenishment Order Header

The order header is made up of several general pieces of information: order number (generated automatically by Delivrd), reference order number, supplier, expected delivery date and more.

When creating a replenishment order in Delivrd, here is what you need to fill:

Reference Order

This is the number of the order your supplier provided you with. This would be the number your supplier’s information system generated. Each supplier is likely to use his own order number range and numbering logic.

For example, Amazon order numbers look like: 106-1129021-9005857

amazon_ref_order

My top supplier, Volumerate, has order numbers which include not only numbers but letters as well, something like 1501108YUYEIVR:

volumerate_ref_order

Supplier

You will have to choose the name of the supplier from the list. A guide on how to add suppliers to Delivrd will be added later.

Expected Delivery Date

This is an estimate you will provide on how long it will take for the shipment of the products to arrive. It’s just a guess, and it will be used as a reminder that certain shipments from your suppliers are due to arrive. If shipments are overdue, you have to check back with your supplier (or the carrier itself) the status of the shipment.

Shipping Costs

If you know up-front what are the shipping costs you will pay the supplier, add them here. Shipping costs are later, for the purpose of profit & loss analysis, distributed between the different products of the order.

Order URL

Some suppliers might provide a URL to link directly to your order details, so you can update the URL here. When you view the order details in Delivrd, you will have a quick link back to your supplier’s website and the details of your order.

repl_order_header

Replenishment Order Details

Each replenishment order has at least on line (or item), consisting of a product ordered, its quantity, unit price and comments, if any.

In Delivrd, you first create the order header, save it, and then continue to add the order lines.

Order line details:

Product

Choose the product from the drop down list. The product search has an auto-complete feature, so you can just type any letters from the name of the product and the drop down will narrow the list of products and display only the relevant.

Qty.

This is the number of pieces (or any other Unit of measure you use) that you order.

Unit price

The price of each unit, as you agreed with the vendor. This is the net unit price, and it does not include any discounts/delivery costs/surcharges.

Keep in mind that Delivrd is an order fulfillment/inventory management software system, not a financial system. Delivrd does not take into account discounts, VAT calculation, or any type of payment details or interface with the supplier. The unit price in Delivrd is used mainly for profit/loss analysis.

Return

Mark this checkbox only if this is a return to the supplier. More on this option – in a l later guide.

Gift/FOC

If you do not pay for this product (if it’s a gift from your supplier, for example), mark this checkbox. It will allow you to input a price of zero (0). If this is not check, price must be greater than zero.

Remarks

If you have remarks for an order line, you can add them here.

Here’s the add replenishment order line screen:

repl_order_lines

Once you are done, click on the ‘Save’ button. You can add as many order lines as you need.

When all order lines have been added, you need to review the order and then release it. You can do that from the Actions menu – select ‘Review and release order’.

You have now created a replenishment (purchase) order.

These are the next step in processing the order:

1. Review  the order, make sure everything is OK and then release it.

2. If the products are shipped by a supplier and he provided you with shipment details (e.g. tracking number), create an inbound shipment based on the released replenishment order. If no shipment details is provided or relevant (for example, you picked up the products by yourself from the supplier), you can skip the shipment creation step.

3. Receive the goods. If serial numbers are relevant, receive them too. Once product receiving is completed, inventory levels are updated in Delivrd.

Steps 1-3, post replenishment order processing, will be explained in a separate guide.twitteryoutube