Mobile or ‘field’ inventory management is becoming an imperative for delivery. Inventory tracking traditionally ended once the inventory was placed on a truck. Today, however, tracking that delivery doesn’t stop with the drop off. Just look at grocery: customers want to be able to reject or return an item immediately if they aren’t satisfied with it, and many businesses will need to manage inventory at the customer’s door. How successfully businesses pull this off can be the difference between an exceptional customer experience or a bad review.
Beyond its impact on the customer experience, inventory management is critical to the running of the business. Organizations need continuous visibility into their inventory while it moves in the field; their field employees and, in some cases, partners, need a solution to manage the changing inventory in real-time.
This order data is also critical for later analyses, including understanding which items most frequently fail to be delivered in good condition, and the top reasons for customer dissatisfaction with the items delivered.
It’s clear why businesses should want to manage their mobile inventory – but what does that actually entail?
Necessary Functionalities for Mobile Inventory Management
Tracking the movement of inventory off-site – scanning items once they enter a truck, tracking them through the last mile and then in some cases returning them to warehouse, storefront, grocer, etc. – requires a mobile solution that effectively manages inventory through the final destination.
Businesses need a solution to managing inventory on the road, while drivers and delivery partners need an application on their mobile devices. Ideally, the solution will enable users to accept or reject orders (or specific items within it) on the fly through a mobile device. More importantly, the solution will follow business logic created to most effectively handle the return and rejection, ensuring a great customer experience and optimal logistics flows.
This functionality is also critical for getting insights into:
– the reason for returns/rejections
– at what stage of delivery items are rejected
– where items are after being rejected/returned
– when the times arrive back in the warehouse/store
This much visibility allows for a truly full chain of custody in the last mile.
Bringg’s updated inventory management functionality enables businesses to build easy-to-use inventory driver flows. The customizable functionality takes the drivers step-by-step through the actions within their Driver App, already used by the driver to manage orders and routes on the road. This ensures that the customer receives a positive experience and that the driver easily understands how to manage the inventory according to the organizations’ logistical flows.
Reporting inventory in the field
For example, when businesses actively manage inventory in the field, they need real-time information on everything from delivered or rejected items, to reasons for rejection and actions on the per-item level. Bringg enables this by providing the driver with the means to report inventory:
On the order level – The driver can report a singular reason and action for multiple items within the order. This offers the drivers an easier, faster and more accurate way to manage multiple item returns.
On a ‘per item’ level – The driver can follow one of two flows per item, whether accepted or rejected. Accepted items will have an action flow to complete the order, while rejected items will each have a dedicated reason for rejection, followed by an action flow for returns. This gives the business greater visibility and control of order rejection with a standard flow that offers accurate data tracking of all items.
These two flows address different use cases. Order-level rejection is usually used in grocery deliveries. Here, a driver delivers a long list of items. It’s common that some items are rejected for the same reason (the package is wet, or the customer didn’t have proper ID and cannot sign for the ordered alcohol). In this case, the driver can quickly view all the items, mark some items and report one reason for all those rejected.
The per-item use case is generally used in oversized or bulky deliveries where the customer’s item list is small but the items are expensive, requiring chain-of-custody and item tracking status. Here the rejection will usually be done item by item.
Take, for example, a driver who delivers a dining room set consisting of a table and six chairs. One chair is damaged, while the table is the wrong color. The customer would like to return both items.
– The driver is able to reject the chair, providing a reason for this rejection (“Damaged”), and a picture of the chair as proof.
– The driver can then reject the table with another, different reason (“Wrong Item”), again with a picture of the table as proof.
– For the remaining chairs, which were delivered, the driver is able to provide pictures and a signature form per each item.
Bringg also enables the system to auto-create a return task with the rejected items inside. This task will then be automatically displayed in the Driver App at the end of the route, supporting the business’ returns management process.