Taking Stock: Six Inventory Management Tips To Keep You Organized
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Inventory management—just the thought of it makes many small business owners cringe. Yet keeping track of the products you create and sell is critical to running a successful enterprise. When you don’t know what your available stock is, it becomes more difficult to meet consumer demand, which ultimately leads to missed opportunities and lost sales.
But if you’ve just started running a business, or your inventory is in desperate need of a little organization, you might not know where to begin. To help you get started, here are six helpful inventory management tips that’ll help you at any stage of business.
1. Use Detailed Descriptions
When keeping a good inventory, it’s crucial to include all the necessary details in your item descriptions. If your item description is missing key information, you may be unable to locate it for a customer—or you might forget it exists entirely and tell them you’re out of stock when it’s ready to be sold.
As you begin to organize and label your stock, be sure to include the following information:
- Item name and number
- Cost to purchase or produce
- Sale price
- Discounts (if any)
- Item quantity
- Category or department
- UPC and SKU numbers (if applicable)
- Supplier ID and order quantity (if applicable)
If you have multiple variants of the same item—for example, a decorative coffee mug available in gray, green, and terracotta—treat each as a separate item to track inventory. This will help prevent similar items from being stocked or sold incorrectly.
2. Inventory Everything—Including Supplies
Oftentimes, new business owners make the mistake of inventorying only the products they offer to their customers. However, good inventory management involves keeping track of the raw materials and supplies used to make those products.
If you run a business that sells various types of pottery, then you’ll likely remember to inventory the various types of pots, vases, and other items you create. But don't forget to inventory the different kinds of clays, paints, and glazes used in the process. By carefully inventorying your supplies, you’ll remain aware of what you need and when you need it to keep operations running smoothly.
3. Add New Inventory Carefully
This is where many inventory management mistakes and headaches happen. A single incorrect entry, in the beginning, can lead to under or overstocking problems down the line, which will cost you on the sales floor. To avoid these problems, take extra care when adding new stock to your inventory.
Double-check your item information and keep an eye out for any discrepancies. This goes for inventorying packages from suppliers, too. If something is missing, make a point to contact them and resolve the issue.
4. Watch Out For Inventory Loss
It happens for all sorts of unfortunate reasons—shoplifting, inventory damage, transportation errors, and more. When stock goes missing for reasons other than a sale, it’s called inventory loss. Stay vigilant and do your best to safeguard against theft, damage, and other forms of inventory loss.
5. Don’t Discount Manual Inventory Counts
Relying exclusively on digital resources to handle the humdrum task of inventory management is a tempting thought, but it’s important to schedule regular manual checkups as well.
Data entry errors and software malfunctions happen, but your eyes won’t lie to you. You can guarantee that your inventory is completely accurate by cross-checking your inventory management system against a thorough visual inspection.
6. Don’t Discount Inventory Management Software, Either
These platforms offer several time-saving features, such as real-time inventory tracking, demand forecasting, barcode scanning, the potential for scalability, and more. Needless to say, the efficiency and ease these options offer can save your business time and money.
Inventory Management Is All About Accuracy
Inventory management is an essential part of running and growing a successful business. Never rush the process—take your time, be thorough, and double-check your work. It may not be the most exciting part of running a small business, but accurate inventory management can keep your business running smoothly.