Inventory can be a pain for businesses, even ones that simply operate as a brick and mortar, and even more so for ones that sell on multiple channels, like in store and online. You can find inventory tracking software that will help you keep track of it all, but you may want to use some other strategies along with it. Sometimes even with the best software you can still miss things, and you don’t want to sell something you don’t actually have in stock.
Keep A Comprehensive List
Separate your inventory into categories per sales channel. You don’t, or shouldn’t, want to have items available in the same places, especially if you have a very limited number of that item. By having a set amount per sales channel you can more easily track what you have.
Plus, if you are selling in a brick and mortar location and have those same items available online and someone steals an item you may not catch that it is missing until someone online purchases it and you can’t find it. Better to be safe than sorry (and also a good reason to do an inventory count on a regular basis of items in a storefront).
Check Inventory On Hand Compared To List
Most mass retailers have an inventory company that comes in for them on a regular basis to count all of the items in the store and then compare them to regular inventory lists. For a smaller business this is something the owners or staff can do on their own in just a few hours, maybe one day after closing a couple times a year. How often you do it may depend on how prone to theft your business is.
Limit Channels Per Product Type
If you sell numerous types of items, it may be easier to keep track of what you have available where by splitting products up per sales channel. If you are a thrift clothing shop, you may want to post vintage items for sale on Etsy and have everything else available in the store. Or maybe have more sought after items posted for auction on eBay. Just don’t put the ones that are available online in your normal store inventory or you may end up selling the same thing twice and ending up with one upset customer that isn’t getting the vintage dress they really wanted.
Stay On Top Of It
Don’t neglect your inventory. If you notice that an item has been taken from your store without purchase remove it from the inventory immediately. If you keep up on the inventory it’s easier to ensure that your books are correct. Your stores inventory is its livelihood, so protect it.