As a small or medium business owner, you want to give your company the best chance to succeed in the competitive market place. This includes finding a reliable and consistent method of inventory management. Small and medium businesses are usually at a disadvantage when it comes to inventory management in comparison to larger corporations. Because they do not have the capital that large companies do, they are forced to invent and implement systems that may not exist. The systems in place do not have to be complex. However, if your company works with inventory, then there needs to be a system in place to manage it.
What is Inventory Management
If you view your company like you view the human body, you could call inventory your business’s food. What goes in and what goes out must be in a regular balance to keep your company fit. The process of finding a good equilibrium in your level of inventory is ″inventory management.″ According to Entrepreneur.com, not having proper inventory management solutions can cost your company in customers and in lost sales. By not being able to meet your customer’s needs, you will lose them and your company starves. Likewise if you have too much inventory your shelves overflow and your company becomes bloated with too much product. There are three simple things that you can do as an owner to attempt to keep a healthy balance.
If you’ve never really managed your company’s inventory or the person whose responsibility it was to manage it has left, you will have to take inventory. This can be a long process where you sit aside and catalog everything that is in your warehouses or storage. Once you have certain types of products figured out, you can then add barcodes to the items. Most barcode scanners are simple hardware items that you can actually plug into your laptop. These are known to work well with Excel spreadsheets. CNET.com lists some of the options for barcode equipment and scanners along with reviews.
Once you scan your barcodes into your spreadsheet you can manage your inventory at a glance. Scan items when they come in and out, removing or adding them accordingly. This is also an excellent method to track your inventory and figure out what is doing well and what you may be better off without.
Alerts and Reports
Once you have a handle on what is in your company you can take the management a step further and include an alert software to help track your inventory for you. TopTenReviews.com lists the top 10 inventory tracking software on the market, according to their research. Most of the tracking software is set up to give you alerts when inventory is getting too a set standard. For example, if you need to know when Perishable Y is over a certain number to stop ordering, this software will alert you. Likewise it will alert you when Item X gets too low. This is a huge time saver, particularly in businesses with a low number of employees.
Entrepreneur.com also discusses the advantages of updating your inventory manually on a regular basis. Many companies choose to do this in conjunction with the end of fiscal quarters or years. The process can take a great deal of time, but once you manually go through, counting and scanning, you can check it against the numbers that you have listed in your system. If these numbers match then your inventory management system is working properly. If they are far off, then you will need to reassess how you are handling your inventory management solutions.