Running a business is no walk in the park.
No matter how much you love what you do, there are many moving parts to handle. You have a team of staff members to lead, products to sell, and a company to market.
Not to mention, when things do sell, you have to track what is going off the shelves and what is coming in to restock. This is the basic principle of inventory control.
Just this one aspect of a business requires much of your attention, though.
Otherwise, you risk losing items and money as things slip through the cracks.
Make sure such setbacks don't happen with the help of the following ten tips for inventory management.
1. Fix Your Processing Procedures For Better Inventory Control
Before you start worrying about inventory control, think about how you handle inventory as soon as it comes in.
Many of your mistakes can be fixed with the right processing procedures.
Processing is how you add new items to your inventory.
When you get this right, you reduce confusion over product details like delivery dates, SKU numbers, and, if applicable, expiration dates.
This information is crucial to the overall maintenance and quality of your inventory.
Make sure you are processing things the same way every time you receive an order. Try to process as soon as an order comes in, too. The less time something spends sitting around, the easier it will be to track later.
2. Track Your Top Sellers and Buyers
Speaking of tracking, give special attention to the top products you sell and the regular customers who purchase these goods.
This approach to inventory control means you will always have everything you need on-hand.
It allows you to place the orders you need in order to fulfill the orders you get.
Plus, it will come in handy when making future projections.
This level of attention in inventory planning translates into financial losses or gains.
When you fail to do this, you may be understocked. This causes a customer to place a smaller order and you lose money. But, when you are well-prepared, you can continue to fulfill orders on time and maybe even sell more units than you have in the past.
3. Identify Everything
Whether you are planning for large-scale orders or fulfilling average requests, all of your inventory should have a specific tracking code.
Your inventory control is largely dependant on this.
Every single unit needs to have a unique identification number.
When processing, try to make a note of the time the unit was added to a system and when it was received. If your warehouse has a tendency to move things around, track every time a unit goes to a different shelf.
Such details allow you to backtrack your work from the shipment an item came in on to where it is now.
4. Do Regular Large-Scale Audits
Sometimes, backtracking is as simple as thinking a unit is on one shelf, then taking a quick glance to realize it is elsewhere.
Try not to let such inventory control mistakes happen often.
But, at least they are relatively easy to manage.
To minimize their likelihood as much as possible, do regular audits of your entire inventory. An audit is an analysis of everything you have in your possession.
It goes through every single item in the warehouse to double check certain specifications. You should have how much of a certain product you say you have, and each unit should be where you say it is.
There will likely be a few discrepancies, but try to keep them as low as possible.
If you find them fluctuating every time you do an audit, you may have to change how you handle inventory management.
5. Audit Every Day's Incoming Orders and Outgoing Shipments
One way to keep audit issues down is to do an audit every day.
Daily audits on regular operations can have a significant positive effect on the mass audits you do monthly or quarterly.
This allows you to go back over all the goods that came in and went out within 24 hours. Such a focus increases your chance of catching small errors before they become big mistakes.
Maybe there was a count that was off by one unit. Maybe a truck came in late and not all cases were accounted for.
When you fix these issues as they happen day by day, you have less inventory control crises happen later.
6. Reorganize Your Space
Another way to keep small mistakes at bay is to change how your space looks.
Inventory control may not be an issue of counting, loss, or even theft.
It could be as simple as having a better understanding of where everything is. SKUs and audits play a big role in this, but so does proper organization.
Organization is particularly important if you know when your high season is.
Depending on the industry you operate in, the high season might be holidays - like it is for retail. Or, your high and low times of operation could depend on a certain kind of weather - like it can for travel destinations and hospitality services.
Either way, you have to be prepared.
Re-arrange your docking, unloading, and storage areas to be as efficient as possible.
You may need to bring in specialists or consultants to help you. If anything, you and your leadership team should plan to roll up your sleeves and spend some serious time considering the new arrangement.
7. Change Your Inventory Management Systems
Instead of changing where everything goes, consider changing the system you use to track it all.
In the fast-moving, digital age we live in, pen and paper won't work anymore. You can't just sign off on something and keep a running list of things.
You need a system you can count on to give your inventory the support it needs.
This is what will track each item as it comes and goes. It will allow you to understand multiple orders at once and see where in the logistics process something is.
Such access to information that is organized and updated in real-time is priceless.
8. Share the Workload
Although there are many benefits to upgrading your inventory management system, you can't rely on the technology to do it all.
You shouldn't take on all the work yourself, either.
The best thing to do is to find a balance between the technology, you, and your leadership team.
These might be the people you directly report to or those who directly report to you. Whoever you decide to count on, make sure everyone is on the same page.
Establish a procedure can add to their job roles and responsibilities. Hold each other accountable, and share feedback openly of which inventory control tactics are working and which aren't.
9. Look Ahead
When you establish a team of people to handle inventory together, you are better able to get things done.
During day-to-day operations, this looks like minimizing small errors.
Teamwork creates a sense of trust and holds everyone in the warehouse to a higher standard. It also means you have extra eyes on the floor, should anything extreme happen.
Plus, you are better able to plan for the future.
Think about where you want your business to be this time next year. More so, start creating three- and five-year projections.
Such goals take much planning, which is only possible with a deep, working knowledge of where you currently stand.
It is even more effective when you have multiple people working together.
The team dynamic allows you to bounce ideas off each other. You can check each person's numbers and come up with new concepts or talk through the different possibilities of moving forward.
10. Try New Technologies
No matter how you decide to move forward, you should try to do so in the most efficient manner possible.
After all, inventory control is all about minimizing risk and loss while leveraging your time and resources. One of the best ways to do this is with the help of the right technologies.
How are you processing goods when they come in?
How do you make use of SKU numbers and generating audit reports?
Your way might be working well, but if there is a better option out there, it is worth checking out. Look into new inventory control technologies available in the market.
These systems can't answer every inventory problem, but they can help prevent many issues before they even happen.
Trust in the software to do the tracking. Use it to better assist your team and serve your customers. From the time a unit arrives in your building to the time it leaves its shelf, the right software can help you put all the logistics information together.
Take Your Inventory Control Performance to the Next Level
Is your old inventory control system not working?
Use the tips above to upgrade how you run your operations.
Or, call a support team to transform how everything is accomplished.
Our specialists have created the system you need to ensure inventory control is as stress-free and high-performing as possible.
Contact us today to discover how Sweet can work for you.