1. Start early
There is nothing worse in a stock count than to be pressured for time at the end. Having people arrive early, refreshed and committed, leads to a better outcome.
2. Avoid distractions
Stocktaking in silence is important. In the retail environment particularly, it is paramount that teams are given the atmosphere to be precise. Issues occur, unfortunately, because stock is missed in stocktakes and turns up once profit has eroded through unnecessary write-offs.
3. Investigate major discrepancies as they arise
Taking the time to find the reason for large variances (plus or minus stock) as they arise is a wise stock-keeping rule. It is better to use experienced staff in particularly large item variance checks, as familiarity with the stock can help find the reason for such discrepancies.
4. Employ a mixture of personnel
Unfortunately, in stocktaking situations, familiarity with an environment can sometimes lead to a lack of objectivity. In a stock count companies are effectively auditing a number of possible scenarios around inventory movement: (A) What has come and gone (B) Possibly, noting what is yet to be ‘booked out’ as is common in retail, and (C) Counting what you ‘physically’ have on hand.
5. Become aware of what is in transit
Software is ideal for this headache. Locating where your goods are leading up to stock count is important. In the future, try working with your logistics partners, perhaps one month out, to discuss probable ETAs of larger stock in transit. Better yet, investigate using a perpetual inventory management system.
6. Ensure your staff has all they need.
From adequate meal breaks and regular hydration, to ample supplies of pens, clipboards, and count sheets, each piece in the wheel benefits the next if a smooth stock take is to take place. Scheduling regular ‘mini’ stocktakes, throughout the year (single category counts) is one way of making the six monthly major stocktakes more accurate and less time consuming.
7. Communicate with Head Office beforehand
If issues surrounding IT overload have caused you problems in the past make sure to have the contact details of the ICT troubleshooter for the weekend on hand to prevent wasted time and frustration.
8. Develop a Master Sheet.
Each time your company conducts stock takes, make sure a ‘master sheet’ has been created for the task. Follow the plan, starting with the more time consuming lines, followed by the remaining SKU’s.
9. Conduct two counts
Never assume initial count numbers are correct. Always conduct two counts and investigate variances thoroughly.
10. Never confirm a stock take until the final variance is done
At times, stocktakes are drawn out over a number of days. The reason for this is due to the fact that managers dedicate significant time to reduce the potential loss, or understand the gain. It is important, therefore, that staff understands that if the final count has not been finalized, the business is not yet ‘trading as usual’ and adequate notes must be recorded regarding inventory adjustments.