John Bunting is the COO at Fuse5 Automotive Software, an aftermarket software provider. He spoke to Aftermarket Business World about technology and inventory management.
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What are key challenges when it comes to inventory management in the aftermarket?
As we are talking to customers it’s really the amount of new products entering the market. Technology is playing a larger role in how they are able to keep up with that, where traditionally it may have been a more manual process.
What are some key best practices for inventory management?
You need to ask how you want to operate your business. I have customers that want ot be able to sell to anybody in any region, and for them stocking heavily on D and C movers is part of a strategic advantage. From and industry perspective, though, we have the ability to run much leaner than we have at any time in the past.
It’s no longer necessary to have things on a month-long order cycle. With regional warehosues and Amazon, you can keep a lean inventory. If you are willing to run on a three-day cycle, you can streamline inventory levels. I don’t see a lot of people adapting to that yet.
From a logistics perspective, you can really streamline what you keep on the shelf and still keep your customers satisfied.
Are there emerging technologies you think will be important for aftermarket inventory operations?
Mobile is the future. From an industry perspective, things are becoming less dependent on hardware, and the cloud is obivosuly one thing we have been on the forefront of. Hardware is less of a constraint, so applications can run without loading software onto a device, or restricting the ability to access the software with unlimited users is the next step.
The application is getting away from the server-based devices that have multiple levels and restrictions.
We have an SMS app that is nearly complete that we think will make it easier for techs to go out and create a ticket. With OCR and artificial intelligence, they have a device they can point at a license plate and automatically pull the VIN information. In the warehouse, you can take a tablet and our software and do a lot of the inventory work.
At Fuse5 we are excited about what the industry is about to become. Now the industry is ready to take significant advantage of new and improved technology. The future is bright.