For some, inventory is boring. Keeping track of inventory even more so. However, without proper inventory and not tracking materials properly, the customer ends up suffering. Here are 10 ways to streamline your small-business inventory.
- Eliminate Extras
How much supply will you need? When will you need those supplies? Creating as “accurate as possible” projections based on what you’ve sold before is the best way to find answers to those questions. This is why it is easy to spend too much on inventory – which often ends up not being sold. Be sure to look for months with high spikes to stay ahead of the game.
- List Product Specifics
You know about a Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) and how viable it is – letting you find certain products in no time. You also know a SKU prevents another company’s similar-named product from being confused with your product. A SKU, however, helps you even more when paired with product specifics, such as SKU number, UPC number, Colour, Size, Price, Weight and Dimensions.
- Create A System
Do you hate it when orders you make are lost? So will your customers if you lose their orders. Do you have a decent system in place for handling, processing and fulfilling orders? Said system either makes or breaks the amount of revenue your small business makes. The benefits of inventory management software cannot be overstated.
- Do Monthly Audits
In this day and age, anything can happen to inventory. Performing a monthly audit prevents these mishaps from affecting your bottom-line respectability and revenue. Here’s how to easily do one:
- Look at the books
- List the names of products, SKU numbers and inventory number, with a blank box next to info
- Print out sheet with the information listed
- Go through your inventory, counting the inventory numbers
- Compare sheet numbers with the numbers in your system
Although you’re managing small business inventory, it still requires a hefty amount of time keeping track of everything. Therefore, spend most of your energy on “A”-ticket items. Any items that sell favourably over other products need to be reviewed, forecasted and reordered more often. Do the same with “B”-ticket items; those that sell often, but not enough to warrant favourability. And so on. Prioritising your inventory this way maximises the efficiency of audits – making your job a lot easier.
- Do Daily Audits
The shorter the time between a customer’s order and he/she receiving it, the more likely they will continue to do business with you. Always check each order’s status to ensure it’s in the proper area of the distribution/ordering channel.
Humans make mistakes. Quite frankly, technology makes mistakes as well – merely less frequently. You know the value of electronic data interchange (EDI) and bar-code scanning prevents human miscalculations. However, be on the safe side by using an asset tracker and compare a few different items from the books each day against the actual count in stock.
Using software such as QuickBooks or Peachtree, as opposed to counting-and-writing-down-in-a-spreadsheet… saves you (and your workers) a lot of time and a lot less effort.
- Back Everything Up
We’re in the internet age. “Save often” should be a law of life by now. A backup plan saves critical data in case anything goes wrong, is missing, or the system shuts down. Norton Ghost and Symantec Backup Exec are two wonderful programs that will store your backup data so you can retrieve it instantly – should you need to. (“Better to be safe than sorry,” the old cliché goes.)
- Works in Progress
Always track “work in progress” materials to allow other businesses and products to adjust correct order amounts. Otherwise, inventory gets too low. The entire organisation is held up waiting for new orders. That is no good.
Imagine ordering from a manufacturer, being told to wait 3-4 weeks, then having to wait another 2 weeks because their stock count calculations were off. You’d be mad, right? So will your customers if you do not keep your inventory in check.