While running your own business is exciting and gives you the opportunity to take charge, it also presents unique challenges. If you provide a product—for instance via an ecommerce website—then inventory is one area where you may encounter problems. Read on as we explore how to stay on top of things.
Master data entry
The first step to avoiding mishaps—like sending the wrong product to the wrong customer—is reliable, comprehensive data entry. There is essential information that needs to be collected with each order and organized in a way that you can easily access. You need a data entry tool that is user-friendly, especially if you have multiple employees using it, those employees should be properly trained for the system, and you need appropriate software to compile reports and track trends in terms of what’s selling (and what isn’t).
For many inventory-base businesses, this comes in the form of a barcode system. This type of labeling and tracking has a number of advantages; it’s inexpensive, it’s efficient, it provides flexibility, and it can integrate from your stock reception, to the sales floor, to reordering. You can even employ this type of tracking to your assets. That way, you know where your scanners, forklifts, laptops, and so forth are at all times.
Organize your storage space
Organization is essential to managing inventory. Lost or misplaced items will cause you stress—and cost your business money. As FitSmallBusiness explains, even if you are starting your business small and simply keeping products in your garage, you must develop an organizational system immediately. Consider how your processes will flow, like where you’ll receive and process shipments, and create a layout that is efficient.
Be sure to incorporate elements that will keep stock where it should be. For instance, stackable shelf bins are an easy way to stay organized. If you run a retail business, you may want systems that allow you to identify products via radio frequency identification tags.
Finally, LinkedIn experts note you should avoid clutter and focus on cleanliness. An unhygienic or dirty space can ruin your products, and it can become a safety concern. Make sure staff members have checklists for their reference and support.
Ensure your website is clear
A clear and user-friendly website can help avoid customer-driven errors that can result in inventory issues. If a customer makes a mistake (for example ordering a dress in the wrong color or size) it’s going to cost your company time and money to correct the error so the customer is ultimately satisfied.
Make sure products are clearly displayed and described on the website. Inchoo points out that great product photography makes a big difference, allowing people to get a clear idea of what they are buying.
You can hire a web designer to create your small business site, or do it yourself using a tool like Wix. This hosting and web design platform offers ecommerce templates that are easy to adapt.
Have a play-by-play
Even with advanced preparation and diligent organization, mistakes happen. This is a reality of any business, but with appropriate tools for your company, you can reduce human error. This goes beyond your equipment and software, since you want staff to stay on track even when they are busy, interrupted, or hurried.
With that in mind, create a step-by-step checklist for your team to follow. Then, to stay abreast of your inventory, and don’t rely on annual counts, but rely on shorter cycles for updating your records.
While inventory errors happen, the above tips can help you be prepared. Taking preventative steps now will avoid costly errors and worries. This is good news for you and will ensure that your customers—the most important aspect of any business—are satisfied.
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