Most retailers recognise:
- the importance of accurate inventory data to retail excellence, and that a stocktake is a necessary process to achieve this
- the pitfalls of manual stocktakes
- the benefits that digitising your stocktake processes can deliver in terms of accuracy, reducing time that needs to be invested by employees & ensuring your store can stay open and continue to make sales
(This is covered in detail in this article for those that want a recap). A digital stocktake involves your team using barcode scanners (typically wireless) to record a count of your available inventory and then uploading this data into compatible retail management software so current quantities are centrally available to all areas of the business. However, there are some very important considerations that you’ll need to make to develop a streamlined digital stocktake solution that your employees successfully adopt:
Select the right retail software
With the right retail software solution, you’ll have ready-made digital stocktake options that have been road-tested by other retailers, plus guided step-by-step support to help you rapidly implement your new process. If your current software partner does not provide this and you try to build a process from scratch, this will involve a lot more complexity and time. Your software partner should be able to provide advice on suitable hardware that can make the stock counting and data upload process as simple and efficient as possible for your staff. Once data is prepared for upload to your retail software it should be able to be cross-checked by a manager / appointed employee before it is updated in your system. Managers should then be able to nominate items for a re-count, or accept them into the final stocktake adjustment. Once approved, inventory data should then updated and made instantly available to all employees (including at the point of sale) across all locations so they have a real-time view of inventory availability and status. Software with an integrated eCommerce solution will also allow this live inventory data to be made available your online customers. Employees should be able to leverage this latest inventory data, in-depth analytics functionality and workflow tools to make key business decisions and automate business processes.
Select the right hardware
You’ll also need to look at suitable scanning hardware that is compatible with your retail software and meets your business needs. These scanners will need to read the barcodes you use in your retail operation and ensure that the data is recorded in a compatible format. Ideally, devices should be wireless with built-in memory that can be uploaded once counts are completed. Scanners with cables have to be constantly connected to laptops, which is a very inconvenient method for you and your staff! Other factors to consider with scanners are:
- How many scanners do you need? (A good digital stocktake process will allow multiple staff to complete counts and aggregate this into one uniform data-set)
- Do you need rugged devices?
Develop a stocktake training plan
Alongside the technological considerations above, it is vital you put together a clear set of guidelines for your employees on your approach to stocktaking and regular training on how to use the tools you have put in place. Without a plan, your staff will clash over the same areas being counted and layby or display stock may be counted incorrectly. A stocktake procedure must be written in simple language with logical processes. Employees will need to be shown how to correctly use your selected hardware, and how to upload this into your retail management software. This will ensure the counts are accurate and the labour costs spent on performing it are best utilised.
Retail Express offers a completely digital stocktake solution– arrange a free demo today to see it in action.