Orem, Utah-based Fishbowl creates customized inventory control software packages for clients on two different platforms, says Brandon Phillips, the company’s marketing communications manager: warehouse and manufacturing.
Commissaries, central kitchens and other third-party providers of prepared foods and other foods to grocery retailers typically use the manufacturer platform, he says.
Recipe management is a big part of Fishbowl’s service to these customers.
Also useful for commissaries and similar facilities, Phillips adds, is Fishbowl’s Fishbowl Go scanning product. Users’ smartphones can be turned into scanners via a Fishbowl app, or the company can provide actual scanners similar to the ones used by retailers. Bar codes are scanned during the food-making process to ensure that the proper amounts are being used and that inventory is adjusted accordingly.
“One of the main reasons people use Fishbowl Go is because of FDA compliance, which is a big deal,” he says. “With a scanner, you make sure you’re tracking everything.”
Phillips cited one example from his experience as a customer trainer for Fishbowl, a job he held for five years before moving to the office side.
“It was a peanut butter manufacturer that made organic peanut butter, and they have to make sure everything was FDA-compliant,” he says. “What we were able to do was to provide them with a full tracking system of lot numbers from start to finish.”
Depending on the source of the peanuts, for example, they could have different lot or batch numbers, he said. Knowing exactly where everything is and where it came from is crucial.
“If there’s a recall, you have to know what all went into it,” he says.
Better software, less waste
The right inventory management software also can help prevent waste, Phillips says. Take the peanut manufacturer. At the beginning of the production process, they might have 100 pounds of peanuts. After they’re shelled and mixed with other ingredients, there might be 60 pounds. Inventory management software tells you exactly how you got from Point A to Point B, how much was used and how much is left.
“You can actually track your yield, waste, all that kind of stuff,” Phillips says. “That full tracking, and then knowing where to ship it, is huge. ‘We sent 10 jars of peanut butter to this place and found out that this batch is bad, we have to recall it, find out which customers it was sent to, etc.,’” he says.
Another case study for how inventory management software can help companies is a Wisconsin mushroom farm that also has its own retail stores and a central kitchen where it makes mushroom-based salsas and other foods.
“They had the same kinds of issues, they wanted to track loss, how much they were wasting, the true costs of things,” he says. “We were able to help them with point-of-sale, lot number tracking, sales number tracking, anything where they needed to know what was going into what, being able to check expiration date, you name it.”
Hiring a company like Fishbowl is often an eye-opener for commissaries, central kitchens and other food manufacturers, Phillips adds.
“They’re actually finding out what the costs of things are,” he says. “You’d be surprised by how many companies have no idea of what costs are. We went to a place that makes cookies. They thought they cost this much to make. But after working with us, they found out they take 20 cents more, when they considered the true costs of manufacturing.”
Preventing stockouts, increasing efficiency, decreasing mistakes — these are among the benefits of Fishbowl software, which is the top QuickBooks add-on in the industry, Phillips says.
The company’s clients are typically small or medium-sized businesses, companies that are already using QuickBooks. One of the things that Phillips stresses for commissaries, central kitchens and other similar facilities that are thinking about adopting an inventory control software platform, is that it may not be as expensive as they think.
Sure, companies can easily spend six figures and up on SAP and other platforms. But if they’re not too big, Fishbowl will likely have a solution in the $5,000 to $30,000 range.
In 2020 Fishbowl expects to focus not so much on new products, Phillips says, as on adding different features to current products.
“That’s what drives us more than anything,” he says. “Everything’s getting more and more cloud-based, so we’re providing more solutions for that. Last year we improved our work order processing, adding even more steps and instructions, better images, etc. So a manufacturer can say, ‘This is how you make a cookie, with step by step instructions. We have a bunch more new features like that coming out.”
Unleashed Software on “The Misconceptions and Myths of Inventory Management”
Inventory management is the art of striking the perfect balance between production of goods and the demand for them, and it plays an integral role in keeping businesses afloat. Taking care of your inventory means having systems in place for overseeing, controlling, storing and delivering your products to consumers.
Creating streamlined systems to manage your inventory stock can be a challenge and there are a few myths circulating on how it should get done. Let’s break down some of the common misconceptions and myths.
Myth 1: You don’t need inventory management software
Small companies often think that their books and inventory stock are manageable with a spreadsheet or pen and paper. After all, there isn’t that much to look after, right? On the contrary, inventory management software is critical for both small and large businesses. This software can streamline processes and keep inventory history in an organized and accessible space.
Moreover, inventory management software can help your business grow. With software like this in place when you are small, it sets you up to scale your endeavor. It is responsive to change and can manage bigger numbers with ease. It keeps all data in a centralized location which allows you to look back on previous reports. These reports can help with future planning and forecasting demand.
Myth 2: It can be implemented after a business has started
Many companies try to get their business underway and then organize the inventory management later down the track. Unfortunately, this can lead to delays and complications with your product. It’s extremely important that inventory management is set up before you get started. This way when goods and materials start coming in, you are already organized. If you try to implement a system after you already have a stack of inventory, it can be chaotic and inefficient. This way everything is tracked as it comes in the door and it is traceable through its entire journey.
Myth 3: It’s separate from sales forecasting
Forecasting is a big part of any business as it helps them plan and prepare for the future. When predicting consumer demand, inventory management needs to be factored into the equation. With the right tools, you can look back on previous sales and inventory history. You can derive patterns with this information and use it to sculpt your forecasting.
Misconceptions and myths about inventory management can cause negative impacts on business operations. With the right software, your business can remain competitive, profitable and very informed.
Inventory management specialist Unleashed Software is a multi-national company with U.S. headquarters in San Francisco.