A full annual inventory can seem like a very daunting task as a whole. However, prep planning will break down the steps and make the full process less overwhelming. These steps will increase your count accuracy, reduce the time you spend counting, and lead you to a successful inventory overall.
Who & When
In planning for your prep, schedule your inventory day far enough in advance that you give yourself plenty of time to prep. A good practice is to have 30-45 days to prep. It is ideal to schedule your count at a time that will not be busy in your location.
Plan the team that will be doing the prep and counting. When selecting counters, choose seasoned employees as well as those who can provide fresh eyes. A key part of planning your staff, is communicating with them the importance of their role in the overall success of the inventory. Share with your team the tasks they are assigned, and create a centralized location for tracking progress of the prep.
A majority of your prep work, will be organizing your product. Make a map your that includes dates that each section is expected to be ready to count. Assign members of the team that will prep and count each section. If you have a warehouse, it is best to start there, as your team will be able to maintain the prep work once it is done. If you have freezer/refrigerators or off-site inventory, don’t forget these in your map and timelines.
Identify what it will take to organize your product for counting day. Locate items without barcodes and decide if you will generate and affix barcodes, or prep them on a manual count sheet. Designate a space or sign that will clearly identify items that will not be counted. Any defective or obsolete product should be disposed off and removed from the count area and written off from the system quantity. It is important that any receivings/transfers are frozen and staged in an area that has been designated to not be counted inventory day.
How will you count
Establish with your team how you will conduct your inventory count. Traditionally, physical counts are done with pen and paper. While this can get the job done, it requires an extra step for someone to enter all the data. Using a scanner app, will make counting your inventory a breeze. The app will sync completed counts with your POS so once you’re done counting, you can easily update your stock levels.
Using an Inventory application or device
Using an inventory application or device enables you to complete your inventory count from a handheld device, sometimes even using your phone & its camera to scan. This saves you the time of working with manual counting sheets. This process will require the use of a fully charged device or maybe a wifi connected phone. When planning your prep, you’ll want to include the set up of your device. It is also a good idea to practice with the device or app prior to count day, and review the steps and best practices with your team.
Food and Drinks for your team
You’ll want to keep your team happy and efficient on inventory day. It is a tedious process, so keeping them on top of their game will be an important part of your planning. Have water, coffee, maybe some pizza or snacks on hand. This will also boost their morale and increase their attention to detail on this important task.
Day of the count
Pre-designate a person that will oversee the flow of the count. Making notations on sections as they are complete is a great way to avoid double counting. Double checking and auditing counts as sections are complete, will be a good idea before updating stock levels. Avoid postponing inventory checks, as the best time to do it, is while everything is fresh in mind.
After the count
Pull up your inventory reports and analyze the data to see what can be done to improve your business. Use this information to identify high risk zones, and adjust standard practices to minimize losses in these areas. A good practice to adopt would be to have frequent cycle counts of areas or items that show significant discrepancies. This will help you in identifying trends within your business.
Smooth and painless inventory days are no accident. Details planned well in advance will help you be prepared and have a more accurate count, and with less stress. Making sure you have the right tools, the right people, and the right plan will help you have a successful day.
If you liked this blog you might be interested in our previous article on this topics as well