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Organization not your strong suit? Then it’s likely managing your inventory is a bit of a challenge. And we get it — inventory management software is a lot. Not only do you have to make sure your shelves are always stocked, you also have to make sure that they’re stocked with the right kind of stuff at the right time of the year. It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.
Inventory management tools go a long way to help make inventory less of a headache. You can hook up your Square account to a number of different inventory management tools (like Stitch Labs, Shopventory, Intrakr, One Up, Shopseen, and Whisk) in Square App Marketplace. But knowing where people usually get stuck can keep you from making the same mistakes.
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Here are some of the most common inventory management mistakes — and how to avoid them.
1. Not forecasting
If you own your own business, it’s only natural to get caught up in the day to day. After all, there are always things that need your immediate attention. But if problems with your inventory are consistently one of these fire drills, it’s likely that you’re not spending enough time on inventory forecasting.
One of the fundamentals of effective inventory management is planning. That is, knowing the ebbs and flows of your item sales by day, week, month, and year. That way, you can better gauge when you need to stock up (and down) on certain items. Here, data is your best friend. Luckily, there’s a wealth of information at your fingertips in your Square Dashboard. You can quickly see when which items are selling and then adjust your inventory accordingly. Square seller Brew & Brew in Austin, for example, uses Square data to know what to stock up on for big events like SXSW. It also helps Brew & Brew figure out which types of beer are selling the best so it can plan its orders for the next week. Planning for your inventory spikes, especially around holidays, is crucial.
Future of RTL
2. Lack of automation
If you’re counting up your inventory with a clipboard every day, stop. It’s time to put things on autopilot. Look at integrating an inventory management tool that automatically alerts you when stocks are low. You can enable inventory alerts in your Dashboard and also connect your account with a variety of tools in Square App Marketplace to help streamline these checks. That way, if someone comes in and cleans you out of sunscreen (family camping trip?), you know right away and can order more. You need to make sure you have a good idea of what’s on your shelves — at all times.
Frequent problem: Someone buys something in your online store just as someone else purchases the last of that item in your physical store. Not good. Again, this one’s about automation. Make sure your inventory system automatically updates your online store when you sell things in your physical store. It removes another thing for you to worry about and manage, and makes sure that your online shopping experience isn’t frustrating for your customers.
4. Ineffective vendor relationships
Your relationships with the people you do business with are just as important as your relationships with your customers. This is especially true with your vendors. After all, without them, your store won’t be stocked, no matter how organized you are. To make sure things run smoothly, it’s really important to have a solid working relationship with your vendors. This means setting clear expectations on both ends for timelines and communication. For example, if your vendor is closing down for a holiday week, you should know that well in advance so you can prepare. And if vendors say their shipping time is two days, you need to hold them to it. Having an effective working relationship with your vendors is something you should set from the get-go. If you need more tips on how to effectively manage your vendors, read our post on the subject.
Inventory management can be overwhelming — but there are things you can do to make it much less of a tangled mess. Check out Square App Marketplace to find tools that can help automate and streamline your inventory management.