Dealing with inventory as a start-up

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Starting up a business can be a hectic time, especially if you’ve never encountered that environment before. Sorting premises, staff, cash flow, stock, you name it there’s heaps to do. But just because it’s new to you, doesn’t mean you can wing it, especially when it comes to your inventory management. You still need to put a start-up plan in place right from the get go, so that you and everyone around you knows what the story is once the business gets going. That’s not to say it won’t change as and when it needs to.

Anyway, let’s go through just a few of the things you need to plan out before you set off.

Setting up your stockroom

Setting up your stockroom sounds like a rather simple task: put up some shelves, put the boxes on it, and away you go. But it couldn’t be any further from the truth. For starters, you need to think about the amount of space you will need for your stock. If you don’t have enough space, you could potentially be having to order in and process new stock more regularly than you need to, adding extra workload onto your staff and adding extra expenses onto your bottom line. Just think about the extra shipping costs alone.

Your stockroom also needs to be organized so that you and your staff know where everything is and you can get at products easily. Having to search tirelessly for products will waste time, so make sure shelves and products are labeled appropriately and consider putting more popular items in easier to reach spots.

Processing incoming stock and fulfilling sales

Once you’re up and running, products will no doubt be in and out of your stockroom constantly. How you deal with that will determine how effectively and efficiently you run as a business, ultimately saving you money.

All product-based businesses need to consider stock management, regardless whether you are a manufacturer or a start-up brewer. Firstly, you will need to start assigning your stock product numbers or SKUs, so that each item and product line is easily tracked and accounted for. Secondly, think about who and in what order will deal with incoming orders and outgoing sales. Having a clearly defined process will streamline your entire operation.

Good inventory management software can help you also. With the ability to easily track and scan products and see real-time data and insights on stock you hold, you’ll not only save time but at any given time you’ll also know exactly what’s sitting in the stockroom.

Getting staff onboard

If your business involves employing any staff, even as a start-up you’ll need them to adopt the processes you put in place. To do this you need to make sure you communicate the plan and processes with them clearly, getting them to believe in how you want to run things. Also, give them the training they need, especially when it comes to technology they may not have encountered before, and lastly, don’t be closed off to any of their feedback.

Monitoring stock

Even with great inventory management processes and accompanying software, you still need to do regular checks on your stock – just to make sure everything adds up. Schedule in regular stock takes as opposed to leaving it to just once a year. As well, with the adoption of barcode scanning and other integrated technology, there’s no need for your stock takes to be a laborious, tiresome time.

Once you have all your ducks in a row, and your numbers add up, your online reporting will allow you to make real-time decisions about your business. That means you’ll know things like how much capital to invest in stock, which stock to buy and when.

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Melanie - Unleashed Software

Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.

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