Inventory isn’t something that most store owners get excited over, but it is something that has to be done. Naturally you should use a point of sale system that has inventory tracking built-in, but even with the best point of sale system, you still have work to do on your end to keep your inventory in check.
The Elements of a Good Inventory Procedure
- Organized location names
- Labels that are easy to read
- Unique, short item identification numbers
- Units of measure
- A starting count
- Good inventory keeping policies
- Software that tracks your inventory
- People who know how to use your inventory system
Reasons for Tracking Your Inventory
There are many different reasons why a business owner needs to track their inventory. But, it is important to know the common reasons and benefits to using an accurate inventory.
Most businesses have their assets as their main source of capital. Therefore, each year you need to track those assets, evaluate them and make sure your business is still running properly. Having a proper inventory can help with the asset tracking and valuation process – and your insurance company or financial institution might even require it.
Ensuring Stock Levels Remain Consistent
Your customers demand that they receive their products on time, but how can you assure them they will if you don’t know what you have in stock? Tracking inventory ensures that you will always have consistent stock levels.
Preparing for Seasonal or Sale-Related Demand
As a retailer, you are likely to have high demand seasons. By knowing your inventory and keeping track, you can anticipate those demands and make sure you have enough inventory in stock to accommodate them.
Preventing Theft, Loss or Inventory Shrinkage
When your employees know you don’t keep track, what is there to stop them from removing inventory from your store? It is imperative that you not only keep track of inventory for your customers, but also to prevent losses.
You are likely to have an insurance policy on your business. If there is a natural disaster or damage to your inventory, your insurance will pick up the loss. But, if you don’t have an accurate inventory of what was lost or damaged, it will be difficult to file a claim.
Accountants May Require Inventory
Your accountant may require an end-of-year or end-of-quarter inventory summary from you. If you already have a solid inventory record, handing that over to your accountant will be nothing more than transferring a file or printing out a report.
Tips for Keeping Track of Your Inventory
There are numerous ways you can track your inventory, but the first and most important tool is a point of sale system. This system works on your computer, tablet and maybe even your phone. It helps you keep company records, check customers out, and integrate your inventory records. But, not just any point of sale will do. You need a comprehensive one that allows you to keep track of cash and sales, but also keep track of inventory.
A good system will have a barcode printer and scanner. A barcode printer allows you to input items into your inventory in the point of sale system, then it will print out barcode labels so that you can attach them to your products. With a compatible barcode scanner you can do inventory checks, scan products for a faster checkout, etc.
Look for a barcode printer that is compatible with your current point of sale system. Shopify, for example, has compatible point of sale systems and barcode printers. You will also want one that can print several labels per minute and preferably uses thermal printing technology. Thermal printing technology is faster, more accurate and more cost-efficient than traditional printing. You won’t have to deal with the ink and paper like you do on a traditional printer, but also if you receive a large shipment that needs to be added to your inventory, you won’t spend hours just printing out the labels. Also, look for a barcode printer that is also capable of printing shipping labels. That way if you sell products online, you can still ship your products and print shipping labels using the same printer.
Keeping track of inventory is important — regardless of the type of business you run. By keeping accurate count of your products on hand, you can deliver to customers on time, manage your assets better and prevent losses in the future.