If you are in a the retail business – online or offline – then controlling your stock levels is one of the most important things you can do. Too little inventory and you miss out on sales and lose customers to the competition. Too much, and you could be left with overstocks that can damage your bottom line. So, if you are struggling to get a grip of your inventory, read on. These tips should help.
Train your staff
First of all, many stock issues come from undertrained staff. Some problems can arise from human error, of course, but training can solve most of those problems. Your employees should know about basic buying principles, rotation, and ordering. And, it is down to you, as their boss, to give them the tools they need to succeed. In general terms, never let anyone on the shop floor buy anything unless they have been under your supervision first. It only takes a wrong entry into an order form for a disaster to arrive. While most manufacturers will accept mistakes happen, you might not be able to return them.
Work within a budget
Make sure you have a proper stock budget in place and ensure that you stick within the remit. Let’s say you are a music store. It might be tempting to overorder the album for the next X Factor winner and take a gamble on big sales. But, if you go too far, it’s only going to end in tears. There is only one thing worse than an enormous overstock – and that’s a burden that you cannot afford.
Invest in better systems
There is some incredible software out there that can help you track your orders, and ensure you have all the right products in stock. You can also get systems created for you. For example, Prima Solutions did some work with TDP Textiles a while back. They created a complete package which covered stock control, sales processing, and financial management. There are plenty of options out there that can help you refine and manage your inventory in a much more efficient way.
Be careful with seasonal trends
It’s no real surprise that many retailers have a lot of stock issues after Christmas. And, in general, terms, this is why we get huge January sales – retailers just want to clear their decks. Make sure that you don’t over order during these high sales seasons. You could be left with mountains of Christmas tat that you won’t have a hope of selling.
Get better deals
Finally, it can be tough for smaller independents to get the same cushy deals enjoyed by major retailers. Sale or return, for example, is something that could save a lot of your issues, but might not be an option. The goal is to get as good a deal as possible from your suppliers – and it will take some work. But, over time, if you can prove yourself, then there’s every chance you will get better value.