In this article

What is Inventory Visibility? The Ultimate Guide for 2024

3 minutes

In this article, we cover what inventory visibility is and why it is important. We also share our process for improving it in 5 simple steps. Read on to learn more. 

inventory visibility

What is Inventory Visibility?

Inventory visibility is the real-time tracking and management of a business's stock across different locations and platforms. It provides a comprehensive view of inventory, from raw materials to finished products. This holistic perspective ensures businesses can promptly identify stock quantities and their positions in the supply chain.

Example: At Jane's Boutique, real-time inventory visibility showed that of the 200 dresses in their system, 15 were size M located in a warehouse 50 miles away. When a customer inquired about a size M dress, the sales team could promptly assure her of its availability and immediate shipment.

importance of inventory visibility

Why is Inventory Visibility Important?

Inventory Visibility is pivotal for a number of reasons. Some of these include:

Customer Satisfaction: 

In today’s fast-paced business environment, customers expect prompt service and timely deliveries. If businesses can't accurately account for their inventory, they may promise products they can't deliver which can lead to frustrated customers and lost sales.

Efficient Supply Chain Management: 

With clear inventory visibility, companies can better forecast demand, manage their supply chain, and ensure that they have the right products in the right places at the right time.

Reduced Costs: 

Holding too much inventory ties up capital and can lead to higher storage costs, while too little can result in lost sales. By having clear visibility, companies can optimize inventory levels which reduces both holding costs and potential lost sales.

Benefits of Inventory Visibility

Inventory visibility is essential for several reasons. Some of these include:

Improved Decision Making: 

With a clear view of inventory, businesses can make data-driven decisions regarding production, sales, and procurement.

Reduced Stockouts and Overstocks: 

Real-time data allows businesses to balance inventory levels, minimizing instances where products are either out of stock or overstocked.

Enhanced Collaboration: 

Clear visibility means all stakeholders, from suppliers to sales teams, can work from the same real-time data to improve efficiency and collaboration.

Increased Profitability: 

By optimizing inventory levels and avoiding unnecessary costs, businesses often see a direct positive impact on their bottom line.

Challenges of Inventory Visibility

While inventory visibility has many advantages, it has its own challenges. Some of these include:

Complex Supply Chains: 

With globalization, supply chains have become more intricate, spanning multiple countries and involving many suppliers. This can make getting a clear picture challenging.

Data Silos: 

In some businesses, different departments or locations might use different systems to track inventory, leading to fragmented and sometimes conflicting data.

Technology Barriers: 

Not all companies have the technological infrastructure in place to support real-time inventory tracking across all channels and locations.

Change Management: 

Implementing new systems or processes can face resistance from staff used to older methods.

Steps to Prevent Inventory Visibility Issues

7 Steps to Prevent Inventory Visibility Issues

Use our 7-step inventory visibility issue prevention process to effectively improve your inventory. Simply follow the steps below:

1. Implement a Centralized Inventory Management System: 

Start by consolidating your inventory data into a single platform or software. This ensures real-time visibility across all channels and eliminates discrepancies that arise from managing inventory in isolated silos.

Example: After adopting a unified inventory system, Jane's boutique was able to simultaneously track products across both her online store and brick-and-mortar locations.

2. Regularly Schedule Physical Counts: 

Even with the best electronic systems in place, occasional manual checks are indispensable. By periodically conducting physical inventory counts, you can verify the accuracy of your digital records and identify any discrepancies before they escalate.

Example: At the close of every season, Lisa's bookstore team conducts a manual inventory check to corroborate their electronic records.

3. Integrate All Sales Channels: 

Ensure that all sales avenues, whether they are online platforms, physical stores, or pop-up events, are fully integrated into your centralized system. This step helps in avoiding overselling or underselling due to a lack of real-time data updates from one channel to another.

Example: David's sportswear brand recently integrated their new pop-up shop sales into their main inventory system to ensure seamless stock updates alongside their web store.

4. Train Your Staff: 

A system is only as effective as the people using it. Ensure that everyone involved in inventory management, from warehouse staff to sales personnel, is adequately trained on the system's use, best practices, and the importance of accurate data entry.

Example: Last month, the management at Thompson Electronics invested in comprehensive training sessions for their staff to emphasize the nuances of their new inventory software.

5. Set Up Automated Alerts: 

Automate notifications to alert you of low stock, potential stock-outs, or discrepancies. This proactive approach lets you address potential visibility issues in real time to ensure you don't lose sales or oversell products.

Example: After setting up automated low-stock alerts, Rebecca's craft store was able to proactively restock popular items before they ran out, improving customer satisfaction.

6. Maintain Supplier Communication: 

Regularly communicate with suppliers and vendors. Understand lead times, potential delays, and product availability to make informed stocking decisions. This approach reduces the likelihood of unexpected stock shortages.

Example: John, a kitchen appliance retailer, holds bi-monthly meetings with his suppliers to stay informed about potential stock delivery delays, ensuring he's always ahead of demand.

7. Review and Adjust: 

Constantly review your inventory processes. Use data analytics to spot trends, issues, or areas for improvement. By routinely refining your strategies based on real-world performance, you ensure long-term visibility and efficiency in inventory management.

Example: Sarah's boutique recently analyzed six months of inventory data that enables her to refine her stocking strategy for the upcoming holiday season based on past trends and performance.


During the holiday season, "Stellar Toys", a renowned toy store, grappled with the challenge of stock-outs for their best-selling items. Conversely, they found their shelves brimming with less popular products which led to both lost sales opportunities and increasing holding costs. To address this predicament and forestall its recurrence, Stellar Toys integrated our comprehensive inventory visibility issue prevention process:

1. Implement a Centralized Inventory Management System: 

To address the inconsistencies in stock management, Stellar Toys adopted "InvenMaster Pro", a unified inventory system. This platform provided a single view of their inventory across their e-commerce site, flagship store, and multiple franchise outlets.

2. Regularly Schedule Physical Counts: 

Post-holiday, the management decided to initiate quarterly physical counts. By the time spring arrived, they identified discrepancies between their digital records and actual stock, correcting them before they escalated into larger issues.

3. Integrate All Sales Channels: 

Given that the holiday sales surge mainly came from their online store and a few select franchises, they integrated all their sales channels into "InvenMaster Pro". This ensured any sale, no matter the origin, updated the central stock count in real time.

4. Train Your Staff: 

Recognizing that some of the discrepancies arose from human error, Stellar Toys held training sessions for all employees, emphasizing the importance of accurate data entry and system usage, especially during high-sales periods like the holidays.

5. Set Up Automated Alerts: 

To proactively manage stock levels, automated alerts were configured to notify purchasing managers when stocks of top-selling toys dipped below a certain threshold. This prevented potential stock-outs during the subsequent sales season.

6. Maintain Supplier Communication: 

The purchasing team established weekly check-ins with their toy manufacturers and suppliers. This constant communication loop ensured they were informed about any production delays or issues that helped them to make informed stocking decisions.

7. Review and Adjust: 

After the summer sales, Stellar Toys reviewed their inventory strategy using the analytics provided by "InvenMaster Pro". By spotting trends and discrepancies early, they adjusted their ordering patterns to optimize stock levels for the upcoming holiday season.

We hope our article has now left you with a better understanding of what inventory visibility is and how to prevent it using our process.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our article on inventory terms or our article on warehousing inventory.

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