Effective inventory control is essential to a successful boutique or retail store. Here are 7 tips to better manage your inventory of wholesale items.
As a retail business owner, whether you have a small boutique or an eCommerce warehouse site, you have products in your store and products in storage. These items are your inventory or stock. Staying organized and keeping track of your products in stock is called inventory control, different from inventory management.
Inventory management refers to the products that are not in stock but ones that will replenish stock. It is a process that includes knowing when to reorder and how much to reorder. The goal is not to have too little or too much inventory on hand, avoiding profit losses.
Successful inventory control can lead to better inventory management.
You may be thinking you barely have time to complete all the other necessary tasks involved with running a retail shop. You may be thinking you don’t have the money to hire someone to help with inventory control. These are challenges faced by all retailers.
Don’t let the challenges prevent you from managing inventory properly. Otherwise, you will lose more money and time later.
There are specific best practice tips you can apply to your business model for better inventory control management. Below are seven tips you can start using today.
1. Create the Best Floorplan
Entering your storage space should not make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. It would help if you didn’t have to spend valuable time searching through various products to find best-selling items. You and your employees need to get in the storage space, locate an item, and get back to the store in minimal time.
The way to do this is with a great floor plan. Depending on the products you sell, you may consider sizes, colors, bulk batches, best sellers, materials, packaging, seasonal items, and more. Incorporate space for workstations if needed. Make sure accessing products is safe for every employee. Practicing your floor plan will tell you what works and what needs to be adjusted.
2. Invest in Signs and Labels
Rather than handwriting labels and signs, invest in making them clear, easy-to-read, and durable. Signs and labels need to be smudge, fade, and tear-proof.
You can digitize labeling with the right software. Other options include tagging, scanning, bar codes, and RIFD programs. Every single item should be labeled and given its location in your storage space. Also, label the bins, baskets, and racks. You make it easy for employees, even new employees, to maintain and manage inventory by marking everything.
3. Cycle Counting
Even if your retail business has the best automated process around, it’s still a good idea to make sure the inventory on your shelves matches the list in your databases. This process is called cycle counting. It’s like taking an audit of your inventory.
Rather than count all inventory at once, you can break it down to counting smaller sections of stock on a rotating schedule. For example, if you sell clothing, you can check ladies’ pants once every three months.
4. Inventory Control Software Systems
Choosing an inventory control program reduces time and saves money. It helps you have the right products on the shelf when the customer wants them. The challenge lies in choosing the right system. Here are some guidelines:
- It should give you real-time inventory data. As soon as one item is sold or stocked, it should update this information in your software system.
- Allows you to track a product from start to finish, from stocking to selling and shipping.
- It can be integrated with other platforms and devices so you can work on inventory control when not in the warehouse.
Advances in software systems happen regularly. Be on the lookout for systems that offer extra advantages, like the following:
- Stock locator options allow you to see how many items are on the shelf and their exact location in the stockroom.
- QR coding capabilities allow you to scan products using your smartphone.
- Smartphone use versus handheld scanners. Newer systems work with your smartphone, which is lighter and easier to handle and can take pictures and allow communications with your wholesaler.
- Voice recognition technology, or voice picking, allows you to speak commands through a headphone set directly into the database where the information is stored.
5. Implement Quality Control Tactics
Quality control ensures your product remains superior through every step of the process, from purchasing from a wholesaler, stocking, selling, shipping, and even when dealing with returns. To establish your quality control process, set your standards and decide which areas to work on first.
Choose the most critical areas, like those that make customers happy. Then, create step-by-step processes that can be measured and adapted for improvements.
6. Review the Data
Because you are using an automated software system, you can collect data and enter it for later use, like when reviewing your quality control test results. Software systems allow you to run reports to give you an overall look at how well you are doing.
Data you can collect for an accurate portrait of your business include feedback from customers, employees, suppliers, and wholesale companies. Also, online reviews and ratings. This information can tell you where to make changes to improve your business and increase your profits.
7. Make Necessary Changes
Feedback from customers and employees is a free prize. They are telling you exactly what will make them happy to give you their money. Take the feedback and make changes to meet their needs. But don’t just rely on feedback to make improvements.
Instead, have the mindset that you can always find ways to improve your products and processes. Your goal is to optimize inventory.
Quality control checks will show you areas in need of improvement. You don’t have to make significant changes for improvement. Sometimes a small, simple change can lead to a better customer experience, leading to higher profits.
Inventory control helps reduce manual errors, boosts workflow, improves internal handling of merchandise, and saves money by streamlining ordering, shipping, storing, and selling. Implementing inventory control systems is rewarding for you, your employees, and your customers.