How do I Avoid Common Inventory Problems?

Nicholas K.

Common inventory problems range from misplaced supplies in a warehouse to stolen products from the showroom floor. The first step in protecting your inventory is to establish clear and replicable inventory control policies. Another way to avoid common inventory problems is to involve your staff in regular inventory audits. An inventory management firm can help you avoid common inventory problems while reinforcing control processes. You can also invest in inventory management software that integrates information from the stock room to the cash register.

To avoid common inventory problems, a business needs to have inventory control policies in place.
To avoid common inventory problems, a business needs to have inventory control policies in place.

Your business needs inventory control policies to avoid common inventory problems. Your sales staff should enter the right product numbers and bar codes into your computers to update inventory lists. Returned merchandise should be labeled with the right product information to avoid losing these items in your inventory. Another common inventory problem is the free flow of samples and supplies from your stock room. Check-in and check-out sheets for every sample or supply keep your inventory lists accurate.

Keeping track of inventory with a laser barcode scanner.
Keeping track of inventory with a laser barcode scanner.

A quarterly or annual staff audit of your company's inventory can reduce supply chain issues. You can subtract items sold by product number from the total units in a product category to create inventory sheets. Every employee from sales staff to managers can look through your inventory to assess if your calculations are correct. This rudimentary approach to inventory might determine significant disparities in your existing inventory control system.

When supply is much more than demand, items may need to be offered on clearance.
When supply is much more than demand, items may need to be offered on clearance.

The process of updating your inventory control system can be simplified when you work with an inventory management firm. These firms hire contractors and temporary workers to conduct inventory audits within a particular region. Audit results allow an account manager to assess your inventory control needs into the future. These firms often sell proprietary software and hardware that allow for future internal audits. You can arrange for monthly or quarterly audits by the firm to avoid significant inventory problems without investing in expensive proprietary products.

Routine inventory checks can help minimize problems.
Routine inventory checks can help minimize problems.

Your preferred office supplier might carry inventory management software that is less expensive than software offered by inventory management firms. You can install this software in each computer in your facility to ensure that inventory is tracked from arrival to sale. Your warehouse staff can scan bar codes on products to check these items into your inventory. Sales representatives can remove products and supplies from the inventory list at the cash register. Inventory management software updates your inventory lists instantly, allowing for quick audits of every item in your show room and warehouse.

Barcode scanners and other automated systems help to minimize inventory variance.
Barcode scanners and other automated systems help to minimize inventory variance.
Working with an inventory management company may help businesses avoid inventory problems.
Working with an inventory management company may help businesses avoid inventory problems.
Portable devices can be used to track inventory.
Portable devices can be used to track inventory.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments

TreeMan

Does anyone have any experience with hiring an inventory management firm? I've done a few searches, but haven't come up with much information.

Are there certain characteristics to look for when you are hiring a firm? For anyone who has used one of the companies before, how much should I expect to pay? Finally, is there a common cutoff point where using the proprietary programs mentioned in the article will be more cost effective than hiring an inventory firm?

stl156

@cardsfan27 - Concerning you first comment - this article alludes to it, but having different managers cross-checking information is a key to keeping accurate records.

When I worked as a manager in a department store during my younger days, the manager of each section would be in charge of his or her own inventory. At the end of each month, the supervisor and a manager from another department would look over the numbers to double check that they were accurate. Rarely did someone's number's come out perfectly, and having two extra sets of eyes looking at the numbers really helped.

Even though most businesses use inventory software now (remember I said my younger days), I still think there is some value to having a second set of eyes look at the numbers. Nothing can beat human judgment.

I'd be interested to hear others' experience with how they've handled inventory planning in their line of work.

cardsfan27

I had never thought about it until now, but I'm sure managing inventory is no small task at some of the larger chains. They literally have tens of thousands of items in every store that have to be accounted for at all times.

I've never heard of an inventory management firm. Are these common, or do most businesses just choose to do their inventory management in-house? It seems like inventory control software might be the best choice for smaller companies.

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register: