The sharing economy is gaining traction these days. Based on the concept of sharing products instead of owning them, this form of collaboration has become quite trendy in some sectors. Cars and tools are only two examples of hugely popular shared commodities.
In her 2010 book, “What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption,” Rachel Botsman, speaks about products with “high-idling capacity.” Just think of cars and bicycles that sit in driveways and garages most of the day. An even more telling example is the power drill that can be found in more than 80 million households in North America. The average power drill is used 13 minutes in its lifetime!
The answer to more responsible stewardship of products used occasionally has evolved into formalized sharing processes. For example, there are hundreds of tool lending groups in North America and an increasing number of car collaboratives. Groups sharing children’s toys and baby furniture are quite common.
Some of these collaboratives are based on an informal honor system of sharing among a group of people who live in the same community. Other groups have paid staff that administer the transactions, collect fees perhaps annually or per use and facilitate lifecycle issues. There are as many other variations on setting up sharing economy initiatives as there are people to dream up the ideas.
Need for Inventory Management
Even though there is an element of trust to varying degrees within all these ventures, there is still a need for an organized approach to managing the inventory. After all, whether a workshop full of wrenches and saws or a fleet of $40,000 hybrid vehicles, the shared items represent considerable capital expenditure. A smart administrator understands the practicality of using barcode or RFID technology to:
- Track location of each item in the common inventory
- Coordinate scheduling
- Maintain the items in good repair and adequate number
Inventory Data Collection
The barcode labels or RFID tags of an inventory software solution can provide useful information about each item such as:
- Details of items; e.g. brand, model, serial number, vendor, data purchased, condition
- Location of item on premises
- Name of user, time checked out and expected return time
- Maintenance schedules; e.g. oil change, tire rotation, blade sharpening
- Lifecycle benchmarks; e.g. reduced emission control, degrading electronics, missing parts
Benefits of Using Inventory Software
Inventory software such as IntelliTrack Check In/Out or other DMS solutions can provide an accurate, up to date and complete inventory listing typically resulting in:
- Increased efficiency for maintenance and repairs
- Increased accountability of user to return items in good condition
- Reduced number of lost or stolen items
- Ability to compile statistics such as frequency of usage, repeat users, increased demand and geographic info
- Ability to determine feasibility of expanding in volume, kind of product or geographic availability
A collaborative economy initiative often begins in a small way with a few people sharing a few items. In the beginning, they would probably not see the need for any kind of technology solution. However, once the idea spreads beyond a few neighbors, no matter what kind of item is being shared, it quickly becomes obvious that some kind of inventory tracking and management tool is required.
In this day and age, there is no need to be stuck with pen and paper or a spreadsheet. An IntelliTrack specialist can easily identify appropriate, affordable inventory software that can grow as the sharing initiative expands. Today’s sharing economy depends on trust and goodwill, enhanced by efficient data collection and inventory management.
Contact the IntelliTrack team to discuss options for optimizing the sharing experience.