Any business that sells goods, be it a retail store, wholesale, or e-commerce business, relies on the steady and reliable movement of stock from you to the consumer. However, for a lot of businesses, that movement is not as reliable as it should be. If you’re having regular inventory problems and your stock isn’t making it all of the way, it’s time to start looking at why that’s the case, and taking the steps needed to protect your business.
Get it in numbers
For one, to know how much loss is affecting your business, you need to get an idea of how much you’re actually losing in the first place. Auditing your warehouse, stock room, and shelves of goods on a semi-regularly basis can give you an idea of how much you really have compared to how much you expect to have. Then, you can work out the value and potential profit of any goods that come up missing. From there, you can get a real idea of how much you could save by tacking the sources of loss, as well as how effective they are. You just have to compare audits to one-another after implementing some of the tips here.
Double-check when inventory moves
Not all loss is down to something like theft or inventory mismanagement. Sometimes, simple human error can lead to inaccuracies. You may not even be missing some products, you might just have one individual who double-counted or missed an item along the way. The best way to prevent this from happening is to make sure that you two people to double-check every time an item comes in or goes out of the business. This way, you can make sure inaccuracies are reduced and, when items do go missing, you have two people to attest to just that. It helps make the stock room a lot more efficient, as a result.
Don’t leave it all up to humans
Two people are better than one, but if all of your stock counting is done manually, you are going to have more mistakes than you should. Investing in a digital inventory system is not only going to help you keep more accurate records, but it can help you track the data of loss a lot more effectively. You can use an inventory management system in conjunction with bar code scanners to scan every time a new product comes into the stock house, where it goes, when it’s moved, when it goes out, and if it disappears from the shelves. It can all be done digitally, as well, so that it doesn’t give your stock room workers a ton more to do.
Ensure you’re treating sensitive goods appropriately
Not all goods can be held in a simple warehouse without any form of environment conditioning or protection. When it comes to fragile goods, they may need padding or fasteners to hold them in place so they don’t jostle and break. Most common, however, are that perishable goods are not given the appropriate level of refrigeration and dehumidifying that stops them from spoiling. You need to be specific to your needs, as well. If you’re storing pharmaceuticals, a food-grade refrigeration unit isn’t going to be enough, you’re likely to need RFID refrigerators to make sure that they’re given the protection they need. The same goes for ensuring that same level of protection during storage in transit.
Put your products in the hands of a team you can trust
When it comes to the transit of your goods, you should always take the time to inspect your options if you’re losing items on the go. If you’re relying on your own drivers, you can use telematics to pay closer attention to their driving habits, seeing if there are any that might be causing damage to your goods. Otherwise, you could consider outsourcing some of your fulfilment services, be it the warehousing or the transportation, so that you can rely on a team that might be able to invest in an infrastructure that’s currently beyond your business. If your business partners are unable to keep your goods safe, you can always switch to a team that can do a better job.
Stamp on the threat of theft
A lot more loss in retail is attributable to theft than you might realise. You don’t have to cast an eye of suspicion on all of your staff, but you should consider implementing some security features to make sure that it’s not a serious concern in the business. Loss prevention training for management and senior staff, implementing CCTV cameras in the stock rooms, and making sure that everyone accounts for when they access the inventory can all help. It’s best to limit access and permission to the stock room to only a select few that need to work in there. That way, it’s easier to get down to the bottom of theft when it happens. A strong anti-theft stance also acts as a deterrent to those who might be tempted to try it. Of course, preventing shoplifting is also crucial.
Plan for busy periods
When it comes to simple accounting and management errors, you’re going to find that a lot more stock might disappear from the system during particularly busy periods. Simply put, if your team is working harder for longer, they’re more apt to make mistakes. Prepare for busy sales periods by scheduling more workers to oversee the inventory and sales. Otherwise, bear in mind that there will be some margin of error for the busiest periods of the year. Just keep an extra close eye out for theft during these periods, as it’s when some might consider it the easiest time to “get away with it.”
Hopefully, the tips above help you get to the bottom of your disappearing stop problem, saving you the headache of unexplained loss and saving you the monetary loss that could seriously drag your business down. The tips above are just suggestions, but they can give you a good idea of where to start addressing the matter.