For a great many businesses, inventory is their lifeblood. When numbers are off-kilter it can mean lost sales, customer dissatisfaction, unsold backstock—in short, it’s a quick way to see your profits dwindle. Rather than losing out in critical ways, make sure you avoid the most common problems with proper inventory management. Here’s how.
Control the Chaos
When you handle a significant quantity and variety of items, organization is an absolute must. If pickers can’t find your stock quickly and easily, it means wasted time looking for it. You can lose the sale if it’s not found, and if the stock shows up months later, it could even mean selling it at a loss because it’s no longer relevant.
With that in mind, evaluate the current arrangement of your stock, thinking through how efficiently it’s organized. Are things too cluttered? Is the space used effectively? Should you be concerned about safety violations?
Answering concerns like these can help you identify where there’s room for improvement and how to realize those goals. The Boss Magazine points out with better organization in place, it even opens you up to adding subscription services to your inventory fulfillment options.
With all that in mind, think through applicable inventory solutions. For instance, implementing a barcode tracking system can be ideal. It’s a popular choice offering speed and accuracy, and is a relatively minor investment in labels, software, and equipment. From there, you can stock, pick, and perform item checks quickly and efficiently. On top of all that, it makes customer sales processes a breeze.
Amp Up Automation
The hands-on part of linking sales with inventory is another place many businesses could tighten up. In fact, the less you require of your staff, the better, and Robotics Business Review notes full automation is on the rise as a result. Traditional methods leave too much room for human error, and by moving to more automated solutions business owners can close gaps.
Hybridized answers are a cost-effective alternative. For instance, there are software tools like Square that harmonize inventory and sales through technology and equipment, even offering tools for post-sales business building. You can see sales in real-time, review data for trends, adjust inventory orders accordingly, and even rely on collected information for customer-focused engagement.
Efficiency isn’t the only benefit of this solution. As Entrepreneur explains, one of the most valuable aspects of these systems is email marketing. Outreach can be tailored to individual customers and their preferences, allowing you to capitalize on their interests in very personal and insightful ways.
At the same time, such products ensure solid protections. These days, hackers are not only targeting your business’s data but also your inventory, so it’s all the more reason to beef up security.
Help Your Humans
While you can greatly reduce the practical influence your staff has on inventory issues, most businesses are not in a position to completely automate inventory. If your small business must maintain a human element, it stands to reason you should provide your staff with the best possible training for handling your inventory. Great organization and simplified processes are a good start, but your staff needs to have a clear understanding in how they handle your goods and services.
There are many effective methods for training employees, and it’s important to look at both your business style, products, and staff to find the right solutions. You want to ensure your employees are not only presented pertinent information, but that the information is conveyed in a manner they will be able to process and use.
A classroom-style event could work well for certain types of information, although interactive training often proves to be more engaging and memorable. Sometimes on-the-job training is best, and some small businesses aim for remote options. Think through your details to determine if one or multiple training types will fit best.
If your small business is inventory-based, make sure you’re using the best possible management strategies. Keep things organized, streamline processes where you can, and train your staff effectively. With a few smart approaches, you can ensure your stock, staff, and services are performing optimally.
About the Author
Marcus Lansky was born with a spinal condition so severe that his parents were told he would never walk. Lansky was a spunky child, and despite all the odds against him he learned to walk with the help of countless doctors, physical therapists, and cheerleaders. He specializes in helping people with disabilities to start their own businesses.