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What are the Best Tips for Retail Inventory Management?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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Counting, organizing, and managing inventory is unlikely to be any worker's favorite job; nevertheless, good retail inventory management helps maximize profits and eliminate waste. There are several basic things a good owner or manager can do to improve retail inventory management, including hiring a great team, creating efficient processes, and incorporating review.

Retail inventory refers to everything in a store that is for sale. This distinguishes it from retail assets, which may include things like shelving, store computers, and the value of the premises. Most retail stores make a profit through buying or making merchandise and selling it at a higher price. A streamlined retail inventory management process allows an owner or manger to know what goods the store has, and thus its potential profit margin.

One of the keys to retail inventory management is hiring inventory managers with a knack for organization. Some people simply have the right kind of intellect to manage the big picture of ordering and restocking, as well as the little details such as return policies and inventory counts. If hiring from within the company, look for candidates that have a mind for math and statistics and who are good with logical thinking. Though retail inventory management may require at least some work on the part of all employees, having a truly organized person in charge can make a world of difference to the process.

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Keeping sales and ordering records in order is extremely important to good retail inventory management. Using past sales records, an inventory manager may be able to accurately predict when new inventory should be ordered, how much is likely to sell over a given period of time, and what the likelihood is that all inventory will be sold before it expires. With this data, inventory management can help reduce waste by eliminating excess orders, while not risking customer satisfaction by running out of a particular product. Without accurate, regular sales and ordering data, inventory management can quickly turn into a wasteful guessing game.

Though many retail stores can accurately predict their intake and output, markets change over time. The hot product that wouldn't stay on the shelves one year may be out of style and unmovable the next, making it important to create a regular review for inventory purposes. If an inventory manager has good, up-to-date information on what is selling, he or she can better predict how to order and organize inventory.

One dreaded part of working in retail is dragging the entire workforce in to assist with inventory counting and restocking. Consider trying to make this process more fun, turning it into a company event rather than a collective drag. Hold inventory counts after store hours, and provide workers with snacks and fun music to make the hours go faster. Some retail stores even turn inventory checks into a competition between departments or teams, with prizes for high accuracy or fast counting.

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