There’s a rule in business. Whoever manages to do the most work using the least amount of time using the least amount of resources is eventually going to win. This means the smartest businesses are constantly looking at how they can improve efficiency, without tweaking things to death.
The lifeblood of most businesses is their inventory. If inventory is being managed inefficiently it's going to ripple out into everything else that requires a human’s time and work. If tracking and updating inventory is faster, everything gets faster.
Here are 5 tips for you to manage inventory more efficiently without skipping a beat:
1. Invest in Barcoding.
Yes, this does mean some physical hardware, but a $20 barcode scanner and a $40 label printer will save you countless man-hours of manual typing and correcting mistakes. Most scanners act like a keyboard, so instead of typing, just scan wherever you need the number. No double-checking what you typed. No reading glasses. Just point and scan.
2. Ensure inventory is easily cataloged and referenced.
Once it’s in your system, you should be able to look it up with ease. There’s no point in having all the info in one easy system if your info is a mess. Invest that time up front to set up a clean, detailed inventory. It’s a pain at first, but it saves an eternity in the long run. Use the fields available, and add indicators for reference, like “-SL” on SKU numbers for silver rings and “-GL” on gold.
Remember, you’re building a library that you’ll keep coming back to. You’ll also have to train new employees later on. So make it consistent and make it easy, but make it yours.
3. Take advantage of your remote tools.
Having to go to a specific computer to look up a spreadsheet that’s only on that computer is not the way to run a business in the 21st century. Anything important needs to be in the cloud where it’s backed up and accessible from anywhere 24/7.
Office 365 and Google’s G-Suite are excellent examples of cloud-based business tools. If there’s a spreadsheet that needs to be accessed, you go to your web browser, log in and access it. Your inventory system needs to have that same cloud-based setup. If you have server racks in your business that manage your inventory, you’re probably doing it wrong.
We’ve all worked with a manager who tried to do it all by themselves. Don’t be that manager. That manager ends up buried under a pile of work while his employees look around for things to do, whether they’re work-related or not.
Your inventory setup needs to be simple enough for your employees to use, but it needs to have safeguards in place. You may want your employees to receive a new box of product, but that doesn’t mean they should have access to view your total profits for the month. Access controls are key to any software solution. If something changes, you need to be able to find out who changed it. Notice I said, “be able to find out”. Micromanagement is also a pitfall to avoid. Hands-on management that trusts employees while still holding them accountable is the right balance to shoot for.
5. Anything that can be automated... should be automated.
Manually updating a spreadsheet of inventory may be fine for a freshly-born startup, but it’s hardly good enough for a serious business. Updates need to be tracked in real-time. People are bad at sitting for hours at a time and counting things over and over. It’s not what they’re made for. But that is precisely why we rely on computers. It’s right there in the name. Computers just compute, over and over, day in and day out.
So ditch the manual spreadsheets and sticky notes for trying to track inventory. Let software handle the tracking and storage so your team can tend to customers, close a sale, meet with a supplier, throw up a coat of paint, scout for the next location, or anything else that can’t be done by a robot.
If you want inventory robots of your own, Shopventory plans are available now for as low as 79¢ per day. Right now, you can sign up for a 30-day full-featured free trial of Shopventory with no credit card required. We also back Shopventory with a 30-day money back guarantee. That means a total of 60 days risk-free!
You can start a trial today and join the thousands of merchants worldwide using Shopventory to win at inventory management!
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