Inventory management is often one of the biggest challenges in the retail industry.
Besides having to store everything you sell securely, there’s issues of waste and shrinkage to deal with, problems that can arise from theft or as the result of staff or administrative errors.
Then, of course there’s the seasonal roll-out of new merchandise and those dreaded stock counts – often taking hours (or whole nights) to update the store and its back-end systems.
And what about ensuring the purchasing function is balanced against stock control? We all know how having excess or insufficient stock can spell trouble for the retailer – nothing worse than a store full of cut-down prices or with ‘out-of-stock’ signs everywhere!
Clearly, how you manage your merchandise directly affects sales, profits, growth, brand identity and, above all, customer satisfaction. But does it also have to be the ultimate headache in the business? Follow a few good inventory management practices and we think not!
Check what’s incoming
First and foremost, always check what gets delivered against orders. Assuming the numbers are correct when you add incoming stock to your inventory could result in being short or over-stocked at a later date. Equally important is the way you manage returns, making sure to restock items into your inventory correctly and being careful to account for defective or damaged goods.
Categorise and store wisely
Optimise storeroom space by categorising your inventory into groups of merchandise – from the most important to the least – and then store them for ease of access. Out on the shop floor, try not to place products that look too similar in close proximity. This simple tip can help to avoid errors when staff are picking or counting stock.
Best-before/ use-buy dates
There can be hefty fines for keeping out-of-date produce on the shelf, so if you’re selling consumables, it’s best to create a reminder system for each product so you know exactly when to lower its price and when to take it off the shelf.
Minimal stock levels
Your suppliers will most likely all have different lead times and you’re probably also stocking a range of items that have different levels of demand. That means a bit of clever calculation on your part – basing your minimum stock level on how long it would take for that level to run out in store alongside how long it usually takes to restock the item. Add in a buffer amount to cover the unexpected, then establish a reminder system for re-orders.
We know it’s no-one’s favourite job but taking regular stock of your merchandise is obviously the best way to keep control, spot errors and avoid problems such as out-of-stocks or inventory miscalculations. How often should you do it? As frequently as is humanly possible!
Use your tech
The good news for today’s retailers is that the challenge of managing your merchandise has been made much simpler through new technology that gives more automation to the process and reduces the risk of human error.
An advanced POS system, like the Good Till for instance, has built-in inventory management functions that support the whole process. You can view stock in real-time from anywhere; add delivery schedules; automatically deduct stock from inventory as it is sold via the POS; mark up items as wastage; manage inventory across multiple sites from one portal – and much more!
On top of this, the Good Till’s advanced stock management module offers retailers even greater insight into stock management and the utmost levels of control. An iPad application supports everything from booking in orders and identifying delivery errors to carrying out stock counts with ease. A back-end management portal makes it simpler to pull out stock audit or variance reports, providing you with accurate data on how products are moving in and out of your business. Synchronise that data with your sales and purchasing functions and you’ve got a management tool that helps you to make better, smarter and more informed merchandising decisions.
Does your POS make managing your merchandise this easy? Get in touch to find out more about the innovative way the Good Till can support your retail business.