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Inventory is important to any business. Unfortunately, the more of it you have, the more room there is for mistakes and inaccuracies, which can quickly become costly. Every year, countless businesses lose money because of overstocked items that depreciate in value, become obsolete, or expire. Meanwhile, understocked or missing items can cost money in lost profits, opportunities, and more. If you are only doing a physical inventory count on an annual basis, then chances are your inventory-tracking methods are in need of a major update to make them more accurate. Through advances in mobile device management, you can increase the quality of information without adding a huge amount of work—here’s how.
The barcode is by no means a new invention, and yet many businesses still aren’t using this very simple asset to its full potential. Use a barcode printer to label your shelves, using them to identify which products belong where, and how much of each there is. With a mobile device, management of your inventory becomes simple and straightforward, as you can simply scan the barcode on the shelf, enter the number your count yields, and the database is updated automatically. To increase your accuracy—particularly when factors such as batch or serial numbers come into play—use your barcode to individually label new stock as it arrives, and be sure to scan each item.
The bigger your inventory, the more time consuming it becomes to count it in its entirety. This is why many companies do only an annual physical inventory, relying on net sales and other data to fill in the gaps—and ending up with a lot to reconcile later! Cycle counts—wherein you count the inventory in portions on a regular basis—will help keep things more accurate and address issues in between whole counts. Individual cycle counts can be as small or as large as you like, so long as they are frequent enough to maintain accuracy.
Would a continuous review system, where a fixed amount of stock is ordered at variable times, or a period review system, where a variable amount of stock is ordered at a fixed time, work better for you? These are the sorts of questions you should be asking when it comes to your inventory management system. A mobile device management strategy is also a good consideration—being able to update the database from the stockroom or sales floor means reducing not only redundancy but also the likelihood of errors in your inventory.