5 great tips to manage your inventory

Image by Jens P. Raak from Pixabay

By Reggie Moore

It is crucial to be aware of different inventory management techniques. Inventory management does not differ significantly whether you are running a brick-and-mortar store or an online store. Below are five ways through which you can manage your inventory.

You should be organized

For the inventory to be managed effectively, it all depends on organizational skills and techniques. The organizational management should ensure that your products are organized strategically. Stock rotation for SME’s, for example, is not rocket science, but having a handle on it lets you know what products are selling dependably and which are lingering in the warehouse longer then they should.

The best solution is to keep related products together. Ensure there are lists and similar products (and products which are related in function or sell together often) are grouped together to make it easy to keep track of everything. When you group similar items together, you will not have to worry about searching far and wide related products since they will be in one place, which also makes order fulfillment easier.

Successful firms usually organize products at the warehouse by category to ensure things can be found easily when a client places an order. For instance, a retailer dealing in sporting goods will ensure camping gear is placed in one category, whereas the team sports gear is placed on another part of the warehouse. Organizing things alphabetically alone could hinder more than it helps if your fulfillment is slowed down by running around your warehouse or your storage area for items that fall into a similar category but are separated alphabetically. Consistency in your inventory management is also key. Make exceptions to the system rare and obvious, or you can expect errors around those exceptions to be a regular occurrence.

Try out proper organization techniques tailored to your business and you will realize they make a significant difference as you manage your inventory.

The warehouse operations should be automated through barcode scanning

As you operate your store, you will process numerous orders daily. Although things can happen quickly, human error can be mitigated or eliminated through automation using barcode scanning. The barcode system ensures you can keep track of your inventory accurately. The picking/fulfillment accuracy will also improve. Also, the downstream costs will reduce. The largest and most successful companies in retail online, such as Amazon, make heavy use of scanning as a way of improving speed and accuracy.

The inventory management software should be scalable

Some businesses manage their inventory using spreadsheet software. If you own a small business with a small inventory with few other workers, such a technique can be sufficient and cost-effective. Also, options such as Microsoft Excel are readily available and are easy to use and are accessible to many people, making the expense of a scalable, higher-technology solution seem prudent or frugal.

Your sales and inventory management needs usually grow, and businesses should understand that platforms such as Excel are not sustainable options at some point. The main issue is that more than one person will be tasked with managing the inventory, and the data present should be accurate or you could run into circumstances where you should have an item in stock, but it is missing. The more hands that get in the data, the greater the possibility for error.

Upgrade the inventory management software in your business to ensure your inventory is operating efficiently. Much of the inventory software in the market currently is cloud-based and can be accessed by many users who can also make the changes simultaneously, while automated processes built into the software can help catch and reduce errors. Such a system will help to streamline your business by ensuring there is accuracy. Whatever solution your business uses, make sure it has adequate back-end support.

Practice regular auditing

Your inventory should be audited regularly to ensure everything is accurate. As you carry out an audit, you will learn more about what is happening in the warehouse.

If you fail to carry out an audit, some data will be lost, and some of the issues that will arise include having less inventory and certain products being misplaced. As you operate an online store, an audit will come in handy. When things are handled manually, there is a likelihood they will get mixed up.

When shipping your product, using vehicle tracking software can be of great benefit to you and to your customer. Features on these tools vary but knowing where your product is after it leaves your warehouse can bring peace of mind to you and to your customer, who will know exactly when it is delivered. Additionally, knowing where things went can be vital to recovering stolen property or when managing loss prevention situations.

Analyze your data before making reordering decisions

The inventory data should be analyzed such that you can manage the future inventory effectively. It means that you will work out the products you should reorder with the past fulfilled orders, and you will know when to reorder them. It also helps you see what products are moving and what products are not, so you can strategize on how to market or liquidate slow-moving products and open up more space for things that are selling or will sell well.

As a retailer, keeping track of your supply can be a daunting task. You need to ensure that when a client places an order, it is fulfilled within the shortest time possible. This is why having great inventory management skills can help you ensure the products are in stock and ready to move right away. Better yet, as your capacity for filling orders increases, so will your revenue.


Reggie Moore is a freelance writer and proto-entrepreneur. When not trying to tinker with a new process or idea, Reggie can usually be found saying the words “Well, actually…” to an unsuspecting bystander.

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