Just the word strikes fear into the hearts of small business owners and sends employees running for the back room to hide! Nothing is a bigger time-suck than inventory, yet it’s an essential part of doing business. After all, inventory is how to know what you have in stock, order efficiently, check in shipments, log products for shop use, and identify shrink. Though necessary, inventory takes time away from serving clients. But what if there were a way to streamline the process through automated tools and solve the inventory time-suck?

Understanding Inventory Management

Inventory management is knowing how much inventory you have in stock, when to order more, and your inventory cost/profit margins. Businesses often use handwritten records and spreadsheets to manage inventory, methods that are time-consuming, notoriously fallible, and prone to error. But what if there were a way to reclaim the time wasted on inventory management? Automation may be the answer!

What to Look for in Inventory Management Software

Ideally, your inventory management software should be optimized to save time, boost profits, reduce the overhead costs of over-ordering and over-staffing to manage inventory, and strengthen the retail aspect of your small business. Inventory management software additionally optimizes working capital by reducing the need to keep surplus inventory in stock. This, in turn allows working capital to be better spent, instead of tied up in overstock and warehousing expenses. Here’s what to look for in software to help you stay on top of inventory easily and efficiently:

POS Tracking and Reporting

Point-of-Sale (POS) inventory management is imperative for small business owners, especially as your business grows and the “inventory time-suck” cuts into your service time. Choose a system that includes barcode scanner capability, the ability to process credit cards, and print receipts. This ensures a seamless checkout experience and automatically updates your inventory with each sale. POS inventory management software should track the following in real-time:

  • Product name, description (category, size/volume, etc.), cost, assigned loyalty points, and vendor

  • Product codes (UPC barcode or SKU)

  • Manufacturer cost (cost to business) and retail cost (cost to customer)

  • Applicable taxes

  • Name, price, and quantity of sold products

  • Time and date stamps for sales

  • Product sales recorded to customer profiles in database

  • Customizable minimum/maximum stock levels

  • Vendor/supplier information and shipping details

Inventory Management Best Practices

Remember that even the best inventory management software can’t fix human error. With that in mind, make sure you’ve got inventory procedures in place to optimize the accuracy of your software’s automated tasks. Here are some recommended best practices to help you get started!

  • Organize! Group products together so they’re easy to find and count, either by brand or category

  • Receive the right way. Unpack shipments together, count accurately, and compare against packing slips to prevent shipping errors or miscounts from throwing off your inventory

  • Reconcile lost, damaged, or stolen items on a regular basis to ensure accuracy

  • Use analytics and reporting to refine your ordering practices

  • Practice FIFO (First In, First Out) to prevent stagnant or expired products and product excess

  • Use data to identify your top-sellers and prioritize keeping them in stock

  • Re-evaluate slow-selling stock

  • Perform regular audits. Make sure the actual numbers of product on shelves match inventory reports

  • Use cloud-based inventory management software with real-time analytics and automated stock tracking

  • Create reorder triggers and drop-ships with automated inventory tools

  • Stay on top of profit margins with real-time data and be aware how much of your cashflow is invested in inventory

  • Perform regular cycle counts, where you only count a section of inventory, such as shampoo/conditioners or branded water bottles

  • Use spot checks. Choose a product at random to ensure reported stock matches actual count

We Solve the Inventory Time-Suck

Vagaro’s cloud-based inventory management is integrated with the scheduling software you already depend on, and the credit card processing you need to grow your business. Our software has integrations for QuickBooks and Xero, so you’ll always be on top of your cashflow. You can access your inventory and reporting from any device. Our smart inventory tracking is capable of tracking sales from both your physical location and your online storefront. That means you’ll always know exactly what you have on hand, and where it’s selling. We can help you prevent stock outages on your fast-selling products and identify products that sit on shelves and cost you money. Consequently, you’ll be empowered to make informed, data-driven decisions on your ordering, so your cash flow won’t be tied up in retail overhead expenses. But best of all: we help you take back your time from the inventory time-suck with our all-in-one software solution. Now, you can spend your time where it belongs—with your clients!

Take control and solve the inventory time-suck!

Header Image: Mia Montemayor via Vagaro

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