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Inventory Counting with Square for Retail

Overview

Sales, theft, loss, and incorrect or missed inventory adjustments can cause discrepancies between the inventory associated with your Square account and the physical inventory you have on hand.

To reconcile or combat these discrepancies, most retailers perform cycle or full physical inventory counts. With Square for Retail Plus, you can perform these counts from your iPad or iPhone’s built-in camera or manually input your inventory using a compatible barcode scanner. Additionally, multiple team members can count in tandem, so you can reopen your business to take sales sooner.

Note: Inventory Counting is currently only available on iOS devices. This feature cannot currently be used on a Square Stand or Terminal.

Set Inventory Permissions

To conduct inventory counts with Square for Retail, you will need to assign permissions to your team members. View the video below to learn how to add inventory counting permissions.

Stock counting permissions include:

  • View unit cost while counting (Point of Sale and Dashboard): Allows the role to see unit costs and total value amounts for items in a count. This permission will only impact unit cost visibility in a counting session and not other places where unit cost appears within the Square for Retail experience.

  • Initiate, contribute to, and commit cycle counts (Point of sale only): Allows the role to start and complete a cycle count, independent of any reviews.

  • Initiate and contribute to full inventory counts (Point of sale only): Allows a role to start a full count but not review or update the system.

  • Review, commit, and delete full inventory counts (Point of sale and Dashboard):  Allows the role to review, edit, and submit a completed count to the system.

To assign inventory permissions:

  1. From your online Square Dashboard, go to Team > Permissions and select the role type you want to allow stock counting permission.

  2. Select Items.

  3. Under Stock Counting, select the permissions you want to assign.

  4. If the permission is for a new team member, select Save team member.

  5. If the permission is for an existing team member, click Save.

Learn more about Getting Started with Team Management

Cycle Counts

Cycle count is a periodic auditing process where a subset of your inventory is counted at regular intervals to maintain accurate stock levels and identify discrepancies. It is recommended to conduct a cycle count for each item variation at least once every 90 days.

Manual cycle counts

  1. From the navigation bar in your Square for Retail app, tap Inventory > Stock counts.
  2. Tap Count stock > Cycle count
  3. Tap the search bar at the top of the screen and select the appropriate variation. Then, tap Continue.
  4. Tap the item variation to input a quantity using the number pad, then tap the check mark.
  5. Repeat this process across all applicable variations.
  6. Tap Next > Confirm.

Cycle count with a scanner or camera

  1. From the navigation bar in your Square for Retail app, tap Inventory > Stock counts.
  2. Tap Count stock > Cycle count
  3. Use a compatible barcode scanner or the built-in camera on your iPad or iPhone to scan the item.
  4. Either continue to scan item duplicates individually, or tap the item list on the screen to input a quantity using the number pad. Then, tap the check mark.
  5. Repeat this process across all applicable variations.
  6. Tap Next > Confirm.

You can save or cancel a cycle count at any time by tapping the X icon next to Stock count in the corner of your screen. You’ll see a pop-up that says Save Changes, and you can either save and close or discard without saving.

Note: Progress will only save on the device used to count inventory, meaning you can’t access a saved count from another device, even if the device is logged in to the same Square account.

Full Counts

A full inventory count is an examination of your entire stock, where each item’s quantity is physically verified and documented to align actual stock levels with the recorded data.

Manual full count

  1. From the navigation bar in your Square for Retail app, tap Inventory > Stock counts.
  2. Tap Count stock > Full count
  3. Tap the search bar at the top of the screen, and select the appropriate variation, and tap Continue.
  4. Tap the item variation to input a quantity using the number pad, then tap the check mark.
  5. Repeat this process across all applicable variations.
  6. Tap Submit progress > Confirm.

Full count with a scanner or camera

  1. From the navigation bar in your Square for Retail app, tap Inventory > Stock counts.
  2. Tap Count stock > Full count.
  3. Use a compatible barcode scanner or the built-in camera on your iPad or iPhone to, scan the item. 
  4. Continue to scan item duplicates individually or tap the item list on the screen to input a quantity using the number pad. Then, tap the check mark.  
  5. Repeat this process across all applicable variations.
  6. Tap Submit progress > Confirm.

You can save or cancel a full count at any time by tapping the X icon next to Stock count in the corner of your screen. You’ll see a pop-up that says Save Changes, and you can either save and close or discard without saving.

Full Count by Category

To perform a full count by item category instead of adding items ad-hoc, you can use search filters available as part of item lookup.

To add items to your counting session by category:

  1. From the navigation bar in your Square for Retail app, tap Inventory > Stock counts.
  2. Tap Count stock > Full count or select an existing full count that is in progress.
  3. Tap the search bar at the top of the screen, then click on the Filter icon next to the search bar.
  4. Select an item category you would like to count inventory for and tap Show Results.
  5. From the list of results, you can either select specific items or click on Select All.
  6. Tap Confirm when done selecting your items.

Once you have finished adding items to your counting session, you can tap any item or variation and enter a quantity for it. After you complete counting all of your items, tap Submit Progress to save your work.

Full Count with Multiple Devices

Multiple devices can be used to contribute to a full count. To perform a full count with multiple devices via your Square for Retail POS app:

  1. On your primary iOS device, start a full count by clicking Count Stock in the Stock count tab.
  2. Once a full count has been started on an initial device, navigate to Inventory > Stock counts on your secondary device(s).
  3. From your list of stock counts, tap on the Full count you created on the primary device listed as In progress. Note: do not create a new full count on the secondary device, as all devices should contribute to a single in-progress full count at a time.
  4. On the Full count details screen, you can choose to Count items or View count summary. You will also see the options to Delete count or Start review with your secondary device(s) but these may not be relevant when a count is in progress.

Note: Stock counts with multiple devices can only be done with Full counts. All devices contributing to the full count must be logged into the Square for Retail app and assigned to the same location.

Review and Approve a Full Inventory Count

After contributing to a full inventory count, you will need to review and approve the count. Be sure you have counted every item on hand before submitting a count for review.

Reviews can be submitted via the Square for Retail iOS app or the Square Dashboard.

Full Inventory Count on the Dashboard

  1. From your online Square Dashboard, click Items > Inventory Management > Stock Counts.
  2. From this list, click a Full count is listed as In Progress. Then, click Start review. Note: Uncounted variations will have their stock set to zero once the reviewed count is approved. To view a summary without submitting for review, click Cancel > View count summary to view this count. 
  3. From the Review results screen, verify that all counts are correct:
    • To sort the list, tap Sort and select an option from the list. You can sort the list by Variance (Count), Variance (Cost), or alphabetically using the Alphabetical function.
    • To override a line item count, click the line item and click Override count. Then, enter the correct count, and click Done
    • To add missing items to the count, return to the Stock counts view and click the count that has the In review status. Tap Retract from review > Confirm and the count will go back to In progress. Once the count goes back to In progress, new items can be counted using the iOS app. When you are finished with the count, you will need to resubmit the count for review. 
  4. Once all line items have been reviewed, click Confirm

Full Inventory Count on iOS

  1. From the navigation bar in your Square for Retail app, tap Inventory > Stock counts.
  2. From this list, tap a Full count listed as In Progress. Then, tap Start review. Note: Uncounted variations will have their stock set to zero once the reviewed count is approved. To view a summary without submitting for review, tap Cancel > View count summary to view this count. 
  3. From the Review results screen, verify that all counts are correct:
  4. To sort the list, tap Sort and select an option from the list. You can sort the list by Variance (Count), Variance (Cost), or alphabetically using the Alphabetical function.
  5. To override a line item count, tap the line item and tap Override count. Then, enter the correct count, tap the check mark, and tap Done
  6. To add missing items to the count, return to the Stock counts view and tap the count that has the In review status. Tap Retract from review > Confirm and the count will go back to In progress. To add missing variations to the count, tap Resume count. When you are finished with the count, you will need to resubmit the count for review.  
  7. Once all line items have been reviewed, tap Confirm

Note: Be sure that all line items have been reviewed before tapping Confirm as this action cannot be undone. Once your full inventory count has been approved, the  Stock counts status will display as Completed

Inventory Variance Report

An Inventory Variance Report is a comparison of the actual inventory count and the expected quantities, generated to identify discrepancies in inventory levels. You can view your Inventory Variance report or review historically completed counts via the Square for Retail iOS app or the Square Dashboard.

Inventory Variance Report on the Dashboard

  1. From your online Square Dashboard, click Items > Inventory Management > Stock Counts.
  2. Click into a full count that has a Completed status. 
  3. To sort the list, click Sort and select an option from the list. You can sort the list by Variance (Count), Variance (Cost), or alphabetically using the Alphabetical function.
  4. Click Details on the top right to view the total count and cost variance for the counting session. You can click on individual variations to view their count and cost variance. 

  • Be sure to resolve missing unit costs in your online Square Dashboard for all variations in the count. Inventory value on hand and total variance may be inaccurate due to missing unit costs.

Inventory Variance Report on iOS

  1. From the navigation bar in your Square for Retail app, tap Inventory > Stock counts.
  2. Tap a full count that has a Completed status. 
  3. To sort the list, tap Sort and select an option from the list. You can sort the list by Variance (Count), Variance (Cost), or alphabetically using the Alphabetical function.
  4. Tap Details to view the total count and cost variance for the counting session. Tap individual variations to view their count and cost variance. 

  • Be sure to resolve missing unit costs in your online Square Dashboard for all variations in the count. Inventory value on hand and total variance may be inaccurate due to missing unit costs. 

Note: Only employees with the View unit costs while counting permission will be able to see the cost variance for an inventory count. Once a count has been submitted for review, there is no way to update the unit costs associated with an item or variation. 

Export Inventory Variance Report

You can export the Inventory Variance report for a completed cycle count or the data from an in-progress or completed full count using your online Square Dashboard.

Export data from a cycle count

  1. From your online Square Dashboard, click Items > Inventory Management > Stock Counts.
  2. Click a cycle count that has a Completed status.
  3. Click Export, and choose a report to export.

  • Items CSV will export the item counts and variance data.
  • Count summary CSV will export a summary of the count details including the counters, reviewers, and when it was started and submitted.

Export data from a full count

  1. On the Square Dashboard, click Items > Inventory Management > Stock Counts.
  2. Click into a full count that has an In Progress or Completed status.
  3. Click Export in the top right of your Dashboard, and choose a report to export.
    • Items CSV will export the item counts and variance data
    • Count summary CSV will export a summary of the count details including the counters, reviewers, and when it was started and submitted.

FAQ

Why can’t I access Inventory Counting features?

Inventory counts are only available to Square for Retail Plus subscribers. Learn more about Getting Started with Square for Retail here.

Inventory Counting requires app version 6.7 or higher. You can upgrade to the latest version of the Retail POS app via your App Store. Learn more about Updating your Retail POS App here.

You will not be able to access full counts while you have an ongoing cycle count in progress. Discard or commit any ongoing cycle counts before continuing. The full counting feature is hidden until cycle counts have been committed to preserving any data you have tallied towards an active count.

How do I run a full count without setting uncounted items to 0 by default?

In order to avoid having uncounted items set to 0 stock, we recommend using a cycle count. Full counts are meant to count every single item in inventory at a location. Therefore, any uncounted items are set to 0.

What devices can I use to contribute to inventory counting?

You can conduct inventory counts on the following supported mobile devices:

  • iPhone 6s or 6s Plus or later on iOS 15+
  • iPad Mini 4 or later on iOS 15+
  • iPad Air 2 or later, iPad Pro, or iPad (5th generation) or later on iOS 15+