It wasn’t long ago that inventory and data systems were only an option for the largest suppliers and retailers. This type of sophisticated technology required a business with a large budget. Today, the field of inventory management could not be more different. Small businesses now have the opportunity to gather real-time data on every item they sell in every step of their inventory process. Here’s five steps that every small businesses can use to get the most out of an inventory management system.
Automate Product and Vendor Info
Some small businesses believe they can continue to rely on spreadsheet or even handwritten records. While these methods have been used for years, today’s retailers and suppliers find more success with automated systems like POS or order management. For example, POS can automatically deduct sold items from records, notify you when the stock of a specific item is depleting, and construct purchase orders based off items sold.
The most sophisticated POS or order management system cannot prevent common receiving errors. These will be up to you and your team to avoid.
One of the best ways to ensure flawless receiving is standardization. When a shipment has been received, make sure that all boxes are unpacked together. This will help you avoid miscounting any items. Also, as soon as every item has been unboxed, check what you have received against your purchase orders. Overlooked errors here will lead to complications on two sides, as both you and your supplier will have inaccurate inventory levels.
Every efficient retail operation relies on a barcode or price tag system. Generally, price tags can be utilized when you are selling a small range of products. Keeping every item properly labeled will help employees during restocks and recovery, and will ensure that customers are never forced to second-guess a product’s price.
Any larger product lineup, generally anything over 100 unique items, needs a barcode label system. With so many products floating around, you need something more than just a price tag. Barcode labels allow you to link specific information to every label. This allows you to automate inventory and keep an extremely accurate list of every item sold, shipped out, or missing.
It’s also important to periodically inspect your inventory. Barcode labels and inventory management systems do eliminate much of the hassle, but you want to make sure you have steps in place to catch any data errors. Physical inventory counts will accomplish this. Use your automated data as a reference, and simply check your own count against it.
Remember, variations between inventory reports and your physical count need to be reconciled. Down the line, unreported discrepancies may lead to bigger issues.
This goes without saying, but a cluttered stockroom or warehouse will ruin any attempt at successful inventory management. Before utilizing a system, take the chance to optimize your available space. The best retailers come up with creative ways to do so. Plus, do you best to keep reserved excess space on-hand; there may be a day when you want to take advantage of bulk discounts from suppliers.
This blog post was based off of an article from Fit Small Business. Read the full article here.