10 Steps To An Efficient Stocktake Process

Stocktakes don’t have to be a headache for you or your staff. Learn 10 key steps to implementing a process that will save your business time, money and plenty of after-hours inventory session.

What you’ll learn:

  • How to cut down time and business costs when running stocktakes
  • The benefits of digital and cyclical stocktakes
  • How to map out and plan ahead
  • Avoiding duplications and missed inventory items in your supply chain
  • How to use inventory reports to identify inaccuracies and areas of improvement

Ah, the stocktake. Otherwise known as one of the biggest time killers in the retail industry.

Every retailer knows that the insight gained by conducting regular stocktakes empowers decisions on what inventory is in demand and will ultimately increase their bottom line — it’s even mandatory at the end of each financial year. But many delay their stocktakes or get so stuck in manual processes that they end up being inaccurate and ineffective. 

With the right inventory management system, tools and processes on hand, however, your stocktakes can be conducted quickly, accurately and without even needing to shut the store. 

Let’s dive into the top 10 steps to an efficient stocktaking process, and exactly why it’s so beneficial to your business and bottom line.

Our top 10 tips to create an efficient stocktake process

1. Always plan ahead

Even with the quickest inventory management and stocktake equipment on hand, you need to have a plan. Take into consideration your store's layout, how much you’re planning to cover this stocktake, and who will do what. 

Planning ahead means your staff have clear communication about what they need to do and ensure you’re not missing out on any hidden stock like laybys or old stock hiding out the back, and you can avoid any confusing overlap. 

2. Make use of inventory scanners and equipment

Gone are the days of having no choice but to request your staff stay after hours (usually with the promise of pizza) to complete a stocktake. With the right stocktaking equipment, you should be able to perform and finish your stocktake with the store open. 

Have a large store, complicated stock or want to take your inventory accuracy and stocktakes up a level? Fully-integrated RFID solution, RIOT, can count an entire store's stock accurately in minutes — doing away with the need to organise counts, leaving more staff to take care of customers and maximise sales, and cutting down on after-hours business costs.

3. Start undertaking cyclical counts

Attempting to count your entire stores’ inventory in just one event is prone to risks and inaccuracies, not to mention a huge effort for more retailers. 

Instead, implement cyclical stocktakes focusing on one area of your store at a time or one product/category. The benefit is your staff can focus on one small batch, lowering errors and time spent on each count, and you’ll get into the habit of performing regular bite-sized stocktakes. 

4. Organise staff appropriately

If you’re focusing on multiple areas or have a large store, appoint a supervisor in each location that’s responsible for overviewing the process. Teach staff the best system to count stock, such as always running from top to bottom and left to right, before starting to avoid duplicate counts. 

5. Map out your store

While organising how many staff you need to participate in your stocktake, it’s a good idea to physically draw out or have a layout map of your store, right down to every shelf and rack. 

Not only can you easily break up areas for cyclical counting, but you can visually assign areas to staff that they can refer to before they start.

6. Don’t forget items that are in transit

Stock that’s being transferred between stores, is still in transit from suppliers, or is labelled for customer pickup will need to be taken into consideration before you start your stocktake. Identify which stock will still be counted in your system, and try to process this stock to avoid miscounts and inaccurate data.


7. Mark off all stock as it’s counted to avoid duplication

This is where having an inventory scanner can save you a whole heap of time. Otherwise, make use of your store map we mentioned earlier to cross off areas that are completed. Ensure staff are communicating here to avoid any overlap. 

8. Make sure the data for the stocktake is valid

The inventory data you start with is just as important as the inventory data you end with. Review how accurate your inventory management system is and how you’ve been running your inventory reports in the past. Your POS should a clear view of stock numbers before you even think about starting a stocktake.

9. Digitise your stocktake

A stocktake performed with a pen and paper is a stocktake at risk of being inaccurate. With an inventory management system that allows you to digitise your stocktake, you can say goodbye to double-entering your data from manual checklists to spreadsheets or closing your stores. 

10. Review, investigate and resolve any inconsistencies post-count

As soon as you finish your stocktake, you should be reviewing your inventory for any inaccuracies. Double-check your original stock levels against the results before you update them and run an updated inventory report. 

Look for data where you can identify any glaring issues or results like:

  • Your profit margin
  • Any shrinkage
  • Slow-moving or overstocked products
  • Fast-selling or understocked products
  • Best performing categories and product types


The benefits of a regular, efficient stocktake process

Conducting a regular stocktake will help:

  • Provide accurate reporting which ensures your accounting is up to date and you are always aware of your profit margin
  • Identify slow moving and overstocked products so you can act accordingly with special sales offers. Know that what you are spending your money on is profitable & what stock your store actually needs.
  • Reduce back orders – stocktaking empowers business owners to see what moves quickly and reorder in a timely manner.
  • Highlight poor practices in your operation or possible cases of theft before things might get out of control.

A successful stocktake should be powered by an inventory management system that allows you to digitise the process and make quick, accurate work of what was a tiresome task. 

Conducting regular stocktakes this way will ensure you are continuously streamlining your process, reviewing your inventory accuracy and can take action on matching your inventory orders to customer demand and data, so you know what you’re spending your money on is profitable.

Retail Express offers a completely digital stocktake solution and integrates with leading inventory scanners and RFID solutions. Discover exactly how easy your next stocktake can be when you book a personalised demo for your business today.

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