Counting inventory physically is one of the most tedious work a retailer has to do. For some merchandise it may require to close the store temporarily because the number of hours taken is high.
However, any retailer knows the importance of inventory count as this will enable to keep a tab on the stock you have on paper vs. what is actually in-stores. This will result in knowing accurate inventory, to avoid shrinkage by spotting it at an early stage and to have right amount of stock on time.
To make this step easy we will discuss the methods which you can effectively implement to efficiently get the job done.
IN PROCESS INVENTORY
Apart from your stock you also need to take care of in-process locations such as:
- Products out for repairs.
- Sales orders awaiting back-ordered merchandise for fulfillment.
Prior to a physical count it is imperative that you first know whether such goods need to be included in the count or not. So you will record wrong data in the end.
This is the process of partially counting merchandise on a continuous basis so you can stay on top of stock levels without having to interrupt regular store operations. Cycle counting entails that you count just certain portions of inventory on a daily or weekly basis so you won’t have to do a full inventory count anymore.
If you feel that you may not be comfortable with cycle counting, the tips mentioned below should come handy.
SCHEDULING BEFORE TIME
It entirely depends on you to conduct your physical inventory counts when and how often. Some stores do it once a year, others on a bi-annual basis, while certain stores do it more often. Whatever you decide though, you’ll need to inform your staff well in advance of the decided date. When you come to this stage, you need to take down the names of the people who’ll be helping you with your physical inventory count. Make sure they can be available and do not get stuck up somewhere else.
You wouldn’t definitely like to halt store operations, so if possible try to schedule your inventory count after business hours. Or inform your customers prior to this if you could make it after business hours.
MAP YOUR STORE
As per this tip you need to draw a map of your stock’s location. Sketch out the location of every rack, display, wall, and shelf if necessary. This will enable you to have complete view of your store and you can assign people to each sections who in turn will initiate the counting process efficiently. Moreover, your map will also work as checklist where you can mark the sections covered and the section remaining.
TAG SHELVES AND BOXES
It won’t be wise if you blindly start the counting process without any kind of prior work of marking the stock especially if products are not visible. Try to get rid of all the loose boxes and Stray pallets by putting them in any temporary place (but well-marked) for the time being. Keep an eye for any product which is out of place for example a diamond ring in the gold ring section. Make sure everything is at the right place.
Make sure that you staff is fully aware of your plans and their role in your expedition. They should not be confused about any changes you recently made. So you inform them prior to start of the work. You may take a walk in stock room to show them the place, this will familiarize them which will give better output.
GO FOR COMPUTERIZED METHOD
With everything going digitized you may need to spare the traditional pen and paper method because the chances of error is high. Moreover you would not like to tally the data.
That’s why you’re better off using digital solutions when doing this task. Check if your POS or inventory management software offers stocktaking features and take advantage of them.
PROVIDE MEAL TO YOUR STAFF
Snacks with some beverage for your staff will end up in efficient work. Physically counting inventory is a tedious process, so you want your team to stay on top of their game. Keeping them well-fed and watered helps them do just that.
PRINT AND REVIEW DISCREPANCIES REPORT
Make a report which will high-light any difference between the on-hand balance in the computer (before the physical) and the counted quantity.
REVIEW THE PROCESS
Reviewing the data recorded by your staff and discussing what went wrong and what worked well will help to make improvements for the next time.