Out of stock notices send potential customers to your competitors — yet managing inventory can be one of the more challenging tasks of running a business. Putting a few best practices in place, however, can help small business owners stay on top of inventory and keep the orders flowing, without having an over-abundance of product.
Struggling with inventory? Try these five inventory management tips for small businesses.
Try an inventory management software.
Managing inventory takes up a lot of time — switching to an inventory management software can free up a lot of your time for extra tasks, while also helping you to keep better track of your inventory. Inventory programs range in price, but there are a few solid options that aren’t terribly expensive. Some e-commerce hosting platforms also offer inventory tracking programs that work in both an online story and brick-and-motor store.
Prioritise your biggest sellers.
What are your top five products? Your top ten? Prioritise the inventory management for those top items, since running out would have a bigger impact than if you ran out of one of your smaller filler items. When reworking your inventory system, be sure to start with these products.
Watch for trends and patterns.
Every business has a slow and busy season, while many products are more in demand at one time of the year over another. Watch for such patterns in your business so that you can prepare to have enough inventory for your busy season while avoiding overstocking during the slow season. Make notes in your calendar when products tend to sell faster or slower, and consult that calendar when reordering.
Organise your stock room.
Ever think you were out of something, only to find a giant box tucked away some place unexpected? Organisation is key to properly managing inventory. Create an organisation scheme that works for your industry — you could organise by season, alphabetically, by product type, or by demand, for example. Once you’ve decided where everything should go, make sure employees know that same system by clearly labelling which space is designated for which item.
Go all out with a label maker.
With an organisation scheme in place, keep things tidy by organising each section as well as each palette of product. Including vital data on each label is a good idea — like the name, description, expiration date (if applicable), and when the item tends to have busy and slow seasons. If you use an inventory management software, you can sometimes create labels with bar codes or print labels and stock lists using the program.
Managing inventory can be a challenging task, but with some software, organisation, and a few other tricks, small business owners can ensure products are in stock with less worry.