5 ways inventory and ordering systems can help hospitality businesses reduce costs

Written by Jonathan Grant

20th June 2023

Being able to effectively manage suppliers, product availability and menus down to an ingredient level will ensure operators are able to tackle rising costs and remain profitable – all while maintaining the same standard of service guests expect.

Implementing smart back-of-house tech solutions which update in real-time and that are fully connected to other tech in the venue, such as the EPoS, will enable operators to make vital cost-cutting decisions based on accurate data from across the entire business. Technology can also streamline and speed up mundane, labour intensive or time-consuming tasks involved with managing inventory and ordering, as well as reduce waste.

For many operators, manually managing inventories and stock is a particularly time-consuming task, and one that can cause a huge admin headache if not done accurately. But it can also be costly to operators in terms of their bottom line and wastage, so utilising robust, feature-rich technology to aid the process will undoubtedly prove to be beneficial.

With this in mind, here are five ways that digital stock and order systems can help operators transform their inventory management:

  1. Make real-time decisions by integrating your EPoS and stock solutions

We all know that having accurate and up to date stock information is a critical part of the business decision making process. As hospitality businesses have increased in operational complexity, so too has the process of calculating the stock. There is a real danger that in modern operations decisions are being made based on inaccurate information generated by conflicting stock management processes.

First and foremost, EPoS integration would be beneficial. At Zonal, our EPoS comes as standard with a complete stock management solution, which provides accurate, real-time data that allows businesses to ensure appropriate amount of stock for each product is being held, enabling operators to set limits on product usage, mark them as ‘unavailable’, as well as run regular line and spot checks and same day stock takes. The system also enables operators to review stock position down to an individual ingredient. This enables operators to avoid the potential for unnecessary overordering and reduces the amount of cash tied up in stock. The real-time data provided by the system also enables operators to keep on top of where and for what reasons they are losing money, whether that be due to drinks being poured in error or staff giving away too many free drinks.

Ensuring sales data is being captured from the till and other ordering channels – and that all this insight is feeding into the stock management system – will enable operators to keep tabs on stock, purchasing and costs, all in real-time, meaning they can be quick and agile in making important cost-cutting decisions. Not only this but having the right solutions in place allows operators to reduce admin time and ensure accuracy of purchase items and recipes by removing the need to re-key the information.

  1. Use order templates to improve the purchasing process and minimise errors

Preparing a stock order is often viewed as a necessary evil. Even with a flawlessly organised stock room, team members can find themselves spending a large amount of time trying to obtain an accurate account of stock needed. Not only that, but this runs the risk of missing key products, or juggling new product lines during a menu change. The outcome of this is inaccurate product levels and availability.

Having feature-rich purchasing and stock control systems that allow staff to create order templates for items that are ordered regularly can be particularly useful to operators. This enables them to re-order popular products quickly, reduces errors being made with the ordering of stock, as well as minimises the risk of over-ordering. Templates can be set up either by an individual operator on-site or at head office level, and pushed out across a whole estate, helping to streamline the ordering process regardless of the size of the operation.

With a few simple clicks of a button, staff can create templates directly in the system – either from scratch or based on previous orders that need to be replicated regularly. What’s more, the list of products to order within the template can be ordered based on the layout of the back bar or storeroom, making it easier to cross-check physical stock in-venue against the ‘regular order’ template, helping to speed up the process and further reduce the potential for unnecessary over-ordering. These templates can then be re-ordered however regularly they need to be, so you can ensure the right amount of stock is always available.

What’s more, with the right system, value-based approvals can be set up as part of the ordering process if needed by a business. This is particularly useful for pubs, bars and restaurants with multiple sites, as orders that exceed a configurable threshold cannot be made until approved by a manager, helping to eliminate unnecessary costs caused by purchasing errors before they occur.

  1. Use suggested ordering functionality to save time and manage stock levels more effectively

We know that operators are continuously looking to reduce the time spent on repetitive tasks, whilst also maintaining a high degree of accuracy. Whilst having tools to help build a stock order are helpful and do save time, it often remains a laborious task and can certainly be a challenge for inexperienced team members. Suggested ordering is one way to drive a reduction in admin time and to increase stock order accuracy – keeping stock holding values down whilst also ensuring all items remain available. An effective suggested order facility will consider real-time stock holding levels (driven by EPoS integration), minimum stock and par levels and anticipated usage taken from historical usage.

This kind of facility ensures businesses are not needlessly ordering too much stock, driving high stock holding, increased wastage and added burden to operations. It also provides a safety net to prevent underordering which impacts product availability and ultimately revenue.

  1. Manage suppliers and costs effectively, to help boost profits and protect margins

Having stock in place at the right levels and at the right time is certainly a key element for keeping costs down. But so too is having the right stock from the right source and at the right price. Keeping track of suppliers, catalogues and prices is important to ensuring cost of sales is where it needs to be, however this is becoming an increasingly challenging task to manage.

Back-of-house tech can play a crucial part in this process. It offers operators tools to digitally store large product lists, segment products into manageable catalogues and importantly import prices changes as they happen. These digital processes make managing suppliers simple and ensure teams are always ordering the right products to hit those all-important margins. And with supply chains facing ever increasing challenges, the reduction in admin overhead is a welcome relief for those responsible.

Having a fully digital supplier and ordering process also allows operators to drastically reduce the time and effort needed in processing both invoices and credit notes. The use of ‘invoice matching’ technology eliminates the need to manually reconcile delivery notes and invoices where they both match – leaving only those that have discrepancies. And where discrepancies occur, having a fully digital credit request and acceptance process allows for tighter control and reduces the risk of losing money.

Not only does all this save staff admin time, but it enables operators to also protect and even boost margins.

  1. Use data and reporting to drive business decisions and cut costs

Technology doesn’t only provide direct operational improvements to your inventory management – it also provides access to a whole host of reporting you can use to make smarter decisions to cut costs, such as helping you quickly identify any potential issues when it comes to stock.

Being able to see a report – in a few clicks of a button – that estimates how may days’ stock you have on hand based on live data makes managing stock levels easier and reduces the risk of waste and overordering too. Zonal’s end-to-end purchasing system, Acquire, also displays discrepancy reports which can help operators or staff easily identify where errors are occurring throughout the ordering process, such as incorrect invoices. This empowers operators to better manage their supplier relationships and cut down on time spent dealing with these issues.

The thing that makes this all possible however, is having an EPoS that is integrated with all the back-of-house and stock-taking tech. Having integrated systems which use the EPoS as the central data hub allows for seamless data sharing and reporting, providing you with one version of the truth for accurate, insightful reporting. This enables operators to be able to very quickly identify where processes across the business can be improved and made more efficient, such as identifying the need for more training for staff or recipes that may need refining to maximise margins, helping to save businesses time as well as money.

Using the right technology to manage both suppliers and stock can help operators manage the level of waste they produce which in turn can save them valuable money, and allowing technology to do the heavy lifting will let you know where those all-important pennies can be saved across the business.

Discover how you could reduce costs in your business with Zonal’s integrated technology

If you’d like to find out more about how our hospitality EPoS and inventory & ordering systems could help you to more effectively manage costs in your business, get in touch today and our team of hospitality technology experts would be happy to show you what’s possible!

By Jonathan Grant

Director of Technical Sales at Zonal

Jonathan started his hospitality career over 20 years ago managing venues before moving into a technical training role at Zonal in 2012. With a vast amount of operator knowledge and a passion for technology, Jonathan leads Zonal’s technical sales function. Supporting Zonal's internal teams to ensure customers technical requirements are exceeded, Jonathan’s expertise is pivotal in our customer success process providing advice, recommendations and specialist technical support.

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