How Your Small Business Can Conquer Common Inventory Conundrums
[This article was written by Marcus Lansky.]
If you own a business that handles inventory, the products and services on your shelf are arguably your most valuable asset – and your greatest liability. When your products are moving, they become the revenue that keeps your business in an upward trajectory. When they are not, you get stuck in a loop of missed shipments and unnecessary spending. Fortunately, with a bit of forward thinking, you can get a handle on inventory issues before they arise.
Reduce manual errors.
There are many causes of data entry “oops” moments. Not paying attention, and entering info in the wrong field are common. These human errors can largely be fixed by launching a system of checks and balances and eliminating weak areas in your processes.
For example, one area that you can focus on is warehouse organization. When your warehoused goods are in the right place, it reduces the possibility of accidentally swapping out items that look alike or have similar product numbers.
Along those same lines, pickers having to run from one end of the building to the other for popular products is a waste of time and energy. Consider changing the layout of your warehouse with efficiency in mind. This will save time and may reduce issues that could lead to inventory or shipping errors.
Stay on top of items.
Another help is implementing an efficient tracking system, such as a barcode system. These systems are flexible and encompass your entire inventory from reception to sales and reorders, and you can even apply the same tactics to your assets control. Knowing where your valuable equipment is at all times becomes simple and efficient with simple labels and tracking.
There are other quick helps for monitoring inventory, too. For instance, you can color-code items based on life-expectancy (perishables may be stored on a red shelf, seasonal on a green, etc.) and start putting your oldest merchandise in the front. Another idea is to take photos of how shelves should look, and post them in a highly-visible area so there is no question about what goes where. A simple visual can be a boon when staff members are trying to expedite a shipment.
If you’re organized, you should have few, if any, shipping mishaps. But an inefficient shelving system isn’t the only reason that your shipments might need help. Sometimes, things seemingly get shipped out of nowhere, a problem Rather Be Shopping points out even big sellers deal with from time to time.
While the occasional mis-shipment might not seem like such a big deal, the fact is that this can cost you tons of money, not to mention time and customer trust. One of the simplest ways to ensure the right items get packed and shipped is to go paperless. It’s an efficient and inexpensive way to streamline processes, not to mention a greener method of handling goods.
Look to a cloud-based system that allows your company more flexibility, security, and efficiency. As Forbes notes, moving to the cloud is a sure-fire way to improve your bottom line.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do as you work to get your inventory under control is to make time for employee training. Untrained employees can cause more problems than accidental data entry mistakes and shipping snafus combined.
You have many options when it comes to teaching your employees how to properly handle your inventory. You could choose a training course to get them on the right page, or if time and money are a concern, you can also create a handbook yourself.
Once you know what procedures work, teach your system to your managers. In turn, they can stress the importance of following your preferred approach to every member of your organization. More than just reinforcing a skill, training has other benefits, including better morale, less time spent supervising projects, and increased productivity.
Don’t let your internal operations ruin your profit margin. Inventory – and inventory management – is crucial to your success. The time and money spent on an effective system is an investment in yourself, your customers, and your business.
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.