Managing Inbound Shipments in NetSuite

Before NetSuite, many companies tried to take ownership of their inbound shipments (and future inventory) by placing them into a different status or holding locations until they could be moved and added to the books. 

While this may have worked then, let’s consider the downside of reporting inventory at locations where, in fact, it doesn't yet physically exist. Even if such an arrangement may temporarily work for accounting, it’s hardly ideal from an operational perspective and opens the door to inaccuracies. 

Enter NetSuite and its Inbound Shipping Management as a key cog in the inventory industry machine — not to mention the most proficient way to track shipments from the moment they’re “in transit” to their arrival at the warehouse.

Our NetSuite-certified experts explain the benefits of using NetSuite for managing inbound shipments and how companies can leverage this powerful tool to improve their supply chain operations here. 

What Is Inbound Shipping Management?

In NetSuite, inbound shipping management is a key functionality that allows companies to automate the tracking and management of incoming shipments from the moment they are in transit to their arrival at the warehouse. 

How Does Inbound Shipping Management Work?

Since we all understand the difference between modern procurement and purchase orders, we need not dissect that relationship too closely. But on any level, you inevitably incorporate inbound shipments when dealing with inventory purchase orders and procurement. Because in today's world, where supply chains can result in surprising lead times, a lot of companies focus their resources on tracking their shipments between the purchase order and the item receipt. And wisely so. 

Take a company that imports its goods primarily from Asia. Well, that typically takes six months, so if you want visibility, you’ll need accurate dates, the container and vessel numbers — a whole gamut of information.

That’s where Inbound Shipping Management comes in. 

In this instance involving Asian imports, the company that purchased the materials can not only take ownership of their shipment but have that ownership recognized as an asset on their books. 

Why Inbound Shipping Management Matters

For all its practical implications, Inbound Shipping Management is not required for all industries — especially not for those with less lengthy lead times or companies that don’t need or want to take ownership of assets beforehand. 

But for companies that have to monitor their incoming shipments, the key driver that leads them to adopt inbound shipment use is the obvious one: Tracking that additional information and all the predictive powers that come along with it. 

Better Inventory Management 

When transferring, purchasing, or shipping materials, a company leveraging NetSuite’s inbound shipment functionality can track purchase order items in transit while streamlining the billing process.

Inbound Shipment

Here’s a simple example: 

When transferring material from location A to B, or, say, from Denver to Chicago, that material is “in transit.” 

So the question becomes, “Is that shipment in Denver's ownership or Chicago’s?” 

Any company will be able to determine that its shipment is moving from one location toward an eventual destination. But any shipment still has to be owned from an asset and value perspective by one of those locations (Denver or Chicago) regardless of its “in-transit” status. 

Improved Visibility and Control Over the Supply Chain

The same applies to company relationships with vendors and their agreements on when and where ownership is transferred. 

So, in our Denver-to-Chicago example, the company assumes ownership when our hypothetical shipment reaches the warehouse in Chicago. It seems straightforward enough. But before NetSuite and Inbound Shipping Management, this process was commonly — and painstakingly, we might add — reduced to an Excel spreadsheet. And in that case, that company is typically forced to rely on manual processes to reflect the impacts — all of which can get overly complicated very quickly and runs the risk of overbooking assets and introducing inaccuracies.

Today, NetSuite provides an extra layer of security and sophistication to the process. It also introduces automation and billing capabilities that take the guesswork and the risk out of the equation. 

Ownership Transfer

Having all your Inbound Shipping Management capabilities in one place, and integrated with your NetSuite General Ledger, allows you to track impacts across your company automatically.  

Where SCS Cloud Can Help

To reiterate, much of the benefit of adopting Inbound Shipping Management lies not so much in streamlining the process but in having these processes in one place and fully integrated with the wider scope of your company’s operations.  

From a configuration standpoint, SCS Cloud has helped many companies transition from outmoded spreadsheets or tracking measures to the full Inbound Shipping Management offering. 

Typically, we’ve found that there are hardly any significant changes needed to your NetSuite setup to leverage the full benefits. And where separate tracking requirements exist, we specialize in designing custom fields to facilitate any such unique use cases.  

Incoming Inbound Shipments: Results

Take Control of Your Inbound Shipments Today! 

At SCS Cloud, our knowledge base is our strongest asset. We’ve worked with countless inventory-based companies to build out and make fully functional their inbound shipping capabilities. 

At the core of improving shipping and forecasting inventory is simple, high-value functionality that allows you and your company to automate its Inbound Shipping Management. 

Ready to take managing your shipments to the next level?

Contact SCS Cloud today for a free evaluation

About the author: Annie Coogan is a certified NetSuite ERP Consultant with 5 years of experience in implementations, specifically in the Manufacturing, Food & Beverage, and Warehousing Distribution industries. After working at Oracle NetSuite for nearly 5 years, she joined the SCS Cloud team and has since worked on projects ranging from emerging to enterprise-level operations.

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