Taking stock – some tips for stock-taking
If your business involves the sale of products then you may be familiar with the concept of stock-taking (or doing an inventory count). Most of the time, businesses have computerised stock control systems which keep track of every product movement in and out. Well, in theory at least. No matter how accurate the stock control system, manual periodic stock counts are a must for any business. These stock checks verify what the system says should be in stock. Any differences can then be investigated and corrected.
The frequency and detail of a stock check depends on a number of factors. The value of items held in stock is probably the most important driver of the frequency of stock takes. Normally, high value items receive a lot of regular verification simply due to the financial loss which might be suffered by the business. Small items like pens and pencils, or nuts and screws, might be ignored in stock checks. A second factor is what I call ‘walkability’. For example, a high street newsagent might sell items like lottery scratch cards, pre-paid bus tickets or packs of cigarettes. All these are small, easy to conceal and readily saleable for cash. One high street retailer I know actually checks stock of lottery cards and bus tickets every night. It only takes a few minutes.
When deciding how often to do stock checks and what to check, try to keep these two factors in mind. You don’t need to count everything every time. It’s much smarter to be focused – it saves you time and, potentially, money.