7 Inventory Counting Best Practices

Counting your inventory on a regular basis is important for every retail company. Your inventory is like cash, and you want to make sure there's high turnover.

We know counting your inventory can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these seven tips for a seamless inventory count:


1. Improve your organization

Being organized is one of the most important inventory counting best practices. And it happens before, during, and after your count.

Before your count, remember to close all transactions for inventory items. Dedicate a specific area where the count will take place, and make sure the inventory is clean and in its proper location. Also, remove empty boxes and any inventory that won’t be included in the count. Place a sticky note or sign on it marked “DNI” (Do Not Inventory) and off the shelves for the duration of the count. For items too large to move, simply leave them on the shelves, but with the DNI sign clear and obvious. And finally, designate an area to bring damaged or missing barcodes.

During your count, ensure all counters are following the same counting pattern. If you’re using PureCount’s counting software, follow the directions on the App and only move on to the next section once you’re instructed to do so.

After your count, remember to document your process and take note of any discrepancies that occurred.

2. Implement a variance tolerance threshold

Store managers and leaders should always be aware of their variance tolerance threshold. Businesses need to measure variance in monetary value  , with differences of both measured on their value. Before beginning your count, you should always implement a tolerance minimum for count discrepancies. Your business should distinguish error thresholds that require a second count by a different person and an investigation into what’s causing the discrepancy.

3. Count left to right, top to bottom

Your physical inventory count should always be performed left to right, top to bottom. Never stop a count midsection—always finish counting a section before taking a break. Counting your inventory in an organized manner will help you make sure every item is counted and no bins are missed.

4. Dedicate specific personnel to the counting team

Counts will succeed or fail based on who is counting, so choose wisely. Ideally, you develop a dedicated team for your counts. Train them thoroughly on the best practices of inventory counting as well as any systems and equipment you’ll be using.

5. Identify the fastest-moving items in your inventory

If you operate a warehouse or a large-size store, you should always identify the fastest-moving items in your inventory. This can help reorganize the space for more efficient movement of goods.

6. Plan counts in line with seasonal demand

If you carry products that have a higher demand during certain periods, plan to count them before and during their peak season. You want to make sure you have enough inventory before the high demand. And popular products tend to have inventory inaccuracies during the peak season(s). Finding these issues will help mitigate any potential customer service issues.

7. Compare your data from previous counts

Comparing the results from previous counts will give you key insights into your inventory management system, inventory turnover and issues with variance. Keep track of past counts and look for any trends.


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