A recent study showed that 82% of people hate stocktake. It’s a little surprising that the number isn’t higher. Nobody spends more time stocktaking than they absolutely have to, right?
However, by not insisting on regular, accurate stocktaking procedures, many business owners are putting critical areas of their business at risk.
Below are the 10 top reasons why you should take stocktake seriously. Very seriously.
1. Improve the Accuracy of Accounting & Reporting
I cannot stress this enough! Inaccurate stocktake means inaccurate reporting! Since everything you buy has an asset value, it will appear on your Balance Sheet and directly affects the Cost of Sales and Profit and Loss reports – essential management tools you should check monthly. If you maintain accurate inventory, your accounting will also be current. If you’re running accurate stock processes, then your stock cost values will be right as well as your gross margins, and you’ll get accurate reporting. Not ideal!
2. Don’t Waste Cash on Overstocked Items
Running a successful retail or wholesale business is about spending your cash wisely. You need to buy only what you need of any one item in order to keep sales going and prevent stock-outs. The rest of your cash can be used to increase your product range, do more marketing and so on. Items on the shelf gathering dust for months are useless to anyone. An accurately kept inventory system will let you quickly identify slow-moving products, put them on special offer and release the cash for higher turnover goods.
3. Improve Sales by Reducing Back-Orders
If you know what’s in stock, you’ll also know what’s not. If you’re relying on a walk around the warehouse or shop to make your Purchase Orders, then you’re relying on your memory to flag up items you’ve run out of. Using an accurate stock report, you can quickly see what’s low, compare it with what’s been selling well and get those re-orders placed in time so you stay supplied. If you’re interested in exactly how much to buy each time, do some background reading into the principle of Economic Order Quantity, EOQ.
4. Identify Issues Before They Get Out of Control
If you’re keeping an eagle eye on your inventory levels, then you’ll spot issues as soon as they appear rather than six months later during an annual stock take, at which point you may have lost a lot of money. Perhaps a step in your warehouse process is being missed, or one of your salespeople is making mistakes on sales orders. You need to know NOW! A tightly maintained inventory system is the best place to do the checks and balances to reconcile Sales and Purchases.
5. Streamline Your Re-ordering Process
Your re-ordering process will be fast and reliable if you know what’s in stock using your software system. You don’t have to go into the warehouse or wander around your shop to build a Purchase Order. You can work methodically through your product set, making informed business decisions about what to buy. A decent inventory management system will let you know if you already have goods on order with a supplier. If your suppliers have extended lead times and irregular deliveries, this is a must to prevent re-ordering from running out of control. By comparing previous sales records against current inventory levels, you can make sensible decisions about what to re-order.
6. Minimise Losses and Theft
Nobody likes to think that their staff are stealing from their stock, but it pays to be vigilant. If your staff know that you manage an accurate inventory system, then theft will be massively discouraged. If you manage accurate stock levels, then you can identify theft quickly. It’s not just theft of course – you may discover that you’re losing stock to damage, loss or some other cause that you’d not be aware of.
7. Improve End-of-Year Processes
If all your inventory levels are up to date all the time, then a periodic stock take will be faster and more efficient since it will just be a confirmation of data rather than a time-consuming data entry task. If you need to change lots of information in your software after a physical stock count, you must ask yourself why and how it’s gone wrong. Since your inventory is likely your biggest asset, there will be subsequent issues with accounting corrections too.
8. Gain Trust in Your Information Systems
Running an efficient and profitable business is about sharing and using accurate information, usually through an integrated software system. If your staff know that the stock levels in your system are always up to date and correct, they will place their trust in the software and use it more at all levels. You’ll end up with better data for better reporting, collaboration, and efficiency across the team.
9. Improve Customer Service
Under- or over-shipments happen; that’s life. When customers call to tell you that they have not received 1 of the 4 items they ordered, you need to be able to check your data and confirm that you do, indeed, still have one extra unit in the warehouse. Likewise, if you’re keeping on top of inventory levels regularly, you’ll be able to identify incorrect shipments much sooner. If you can communicate accurately and quickly with your customers, they will have trust in your ability as a merchant, which in these times of high competition, is a very valuable asset. If your stock system is up to date with Purchase Order information, you can inform customers when inventory is just about to arrive, and get extra sales you’d otherwise be hesitant to fulfil.
10. Minimise Warehouse Costs
If you know where things are in your warehouse and whether you have any at all, then pick/pack/ship processes are significantly more efficient. Your warehouse staff don’t need to be hunting for the last unit since you know it sold yesterday and was shipped at 6 pm via UPC, for example. This means you can process more orders in the same amount of time with the same staff or balance your resources differently. Accurate stock levels can keep you lean!