A Successful Stock Take: Six Mistakes to Avoid

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Stock taking is a crucial event on any business’ calendar – it’s that time of year, quarter or even month for businesses to reconcile the actual stock in the warehouse against the stock on the books. Your stock take will look different depending on the type and size of business you run. That said, there are some universal mistakes that any business should avoid at stock take time – let’s take a look.

Poor Preparation

Many businesses treat a stock take as an exercise in getting prepared when, in reality, it’s as important to prepare for the stock take itself. Effective preparation involves more than pulling together a team of stock counters; businesses should make sure that the warehouse is tidy, that hazards are dealt with and that all known inventory is accessible and able to be counted. Ahead of the stock take, the person in charge should prepare a plan of the warehouse or store that shows the sections to be counted and the order they should be counted in.

Receiving Inward Goods

Continuing to receive inwards goods blurs the line between what is in the warehouse and ready to be counted, and what is not yet in inventory – it is a recipe for inaccurate information and stock numbers that don’t make sense. In some businesses, it may not be feasible to shut down procurement in order to carry out a stock take. In that event, consider running the stock take in pieces – hold off on receiving inward goods for the area that you are currently counting.

Poor Timing

It is difficult to continue to trade through a stock take, particularly in a busy retail environment. To take away the pressure to stay open, run your stock take outside of core business hours or consider shutting up shop during a quiet season to carry out the count.

Using the Wrong Tools

Stock taking involve long days of repetitive tasks, so if you can automate or use technology to make the process easier, you should. Investing in stocktaking software can save you hours every week and boost inventory accuracy. If your products have barcodes, consider purchasing or hiring barcode scanners to speed up stock counting and data entry. If you’ve got the budget, you might even consider RFID tags as large numbers of tags can be scanned at one time, making stock counting a breeze.

Making Assumptions

The whole point of a comprehensive stock take is to test your business’ assumptions about the stock it has on hand. It is crucial that none of these assumptions are used to expedite or simplify the process – every single piece of inventory must be counted. For example, if stock is stored in labelled boxes, each box must be checked to ensure the correct amount of inventory is present (unless the boxes are sealed). This applies even if the boxes are not opened as part of the usual course of business; what would happen, for example, if stock had been going missing from boxes and the stock take failed to uncover the issue?

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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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