“Social distancing” and “flattening the curve” weren’t the only words and phrases used with abandon during the pandemic. Another was “supply”. While not new to the lexicon, supply was a major buzzword largely because there simply wasn’t enough of it throughout the crisis, as grocers, big-box retailers, furniture sellers and many others were struggling to keep up and restock to keep pace with the buying pace. among consumers.
Fast forward to today, supply has normalized, but inventory has piled up as business owners overestimated how high demand would remain in a post-pandemic world.
Changing global, consumer and economic circumstances have forced commodity-focused industries to re-strategize and exercise proper inventory control. Here we will briefly discuss what inventory control is, how it differs from inventory management, and tips to improve your inventory control.
What is inventory control?
Inventory control is a business activity that involves counting and tracking inventory that currently exists in your backrooms, factories, warehouses, or distribution centers. This means understanding all aspects of what is there, including what exists, where it is (specifically), its general condition, and when it arrived.
How is inventory control different from inventory management?
At first glance, it would seem that inventory control and inventory management are synonymous. Although often used interchangeably, these two business processes are distinct from each other. The main difference is the timeline. While inventory control only relates to the inventory you currently have, inventory management determines what you will need. In other words, inventory management is more forward-looking and predictive, while inventory management is in the moment.
4 best practices for successful inventory control
1. Have a “home” for the goods
It’s not enough to have an inventory or know that you have specific items in stock; you also need to know where it is so that it can be easily located. Having a home for goods applies to both inventory that has not yet been sold as well as what is available for purchase and on the floor. If items aren’t moving as quickly as you’d like, it might be a good idea to move them to an area where they’re easy to spot or where customers are guaranteed to pass, such as an entrance or exit.
2. Prioritize identification
No inventory control system can be successful without a way to identify what is in stock. But instead of using serial numbers, which can be easily misinterpreted and prone to recording errors, it may make more sense to use tags. Just make sure they’re big, the descriptions are readable, and the names used for each product are both logical and accurate.
3. Count well
In any pursuit, whether in business or in life, how you end often depends on how you start. This is certainly the case in inventory control. Make sure your physical inventory count is correct and accurately reflects what you actually have. Also, try to use the same units and measurement system to ensure consistency and avoid misinterpretations (e.g. grams, gallons, kilograms, pounds, number of pieces, multiples of 10, 100, 1000, etc.).
4. Make sure the goods are easily traceable
Inventory control also includes goods in the process of arriving or already in the process of being delivered but which have not yet been delivered. Whatever stage the items are at (in transit, out of stock, being delivered, etc.), they must be fully traceable. Product lifecycle management software and enterprise resource management software often offer localization solutions.