Inventory management is an essential part of almost every business. There are some that have little or no inventory to speak of, but for the most part, every business needs office supplies or other sundries, at the very least. And if you move product, you’re bound to have a lot more inventory to shuffle around. You might even have warehouse facilities full of items that need to be cataloged and tracked in the course of inventory management. It can be a lot to handle when you’re just starting out and you’re trying to learn the ropes. So here are a few basics that can help even newbies get their inventory management under control.

You need to start with an organizational system. It will include not only locations where things are stored, but also some kind of coding system so that you can easily identify locations. You don’t want to find yourself picking orders to ship and telling your pickers to get items from the second to the last shelving unit on the right in the back row. This is neither precise nor efficient and it’s a great way to cause confusion. Also, it relies on you to remember where every item is kept. And what if you’re home sick or on vacation? It’s no good.

Instead, you need to set up an organized system of shelving, bins, and or other appropriate storage solutions that work for your business, your space, and your inventory. Then you need to create a labeling system. Using numbers, letters, colors, names, or other designators, you can section off your warehouse and label shelving units, shelves, and even individual bins. A graduated system is your best option, and often a system that involves letters and numbers is the more efficient way to go.

Next you need to consider the hardware and software you’re using for inventory management, because tracking your inventory on paper is antiquated and unnecessary. You’ll want to use products from a company like Arba Retail Systems that specializes in POS and inventory management for businesses like yours. With such solutions you can not only use barcode scanners to label and track inventory, but you can also manage POS transactions, payroll, and more. It pays to find the right hardware and software solutions when it comes to inventory management so you can efficiently fill orders, as well as avoid waste and loss.

Of course, your system is only as good as the people who use it, so once you’ve got your storage in place, your system nailed down, and your hardware and software taken care of, it’s time to train your employees. They need to know how it all works and the policies you’ve put in place to make inventory management effective and efficient. You should also come up with penalties for noncompliance to ensure that product isn’t slipping through the cracks and costing you money. You don’t necessarily have to spend an arm and a leg or stress yourself out when it comes to finding ways to better manage inventory. With a few simple guidelines the process can be smooth sailing.

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