Everyone who runs a business dealing with physical goods needs a system in place to keep that stock organized. Keeping stock organized saves time, saves money, and saves frustration.
If this is the first time you’ve dipped your toe into e-commerce, use the following tips to help you set up an efficient stockroom.
Keep an Accurate Inventory
Most businesses try to avoid tying money up in a big inventory, preferring regular stock replenishment from suppliers. But to make this work you need to keep an accurate inventory so you know which items to restock and when to order them.
Manual stocktaking is time consuming and tedious, thankfully though automated systems can take care of your inventory management needs.
One example is the integrated inventory management in the QuickBooks accounting system. This system automatically updates your inventory every time a sale is made and generates purchase orders once an item of stock runs low.
Then all you have to do is review your purchase orders and approve each one, or if you don’t plan to carry that line any longer, cancel the order.
When you run a business, you’ve got numerous demands on your time–keeping track of your inventory doesn’t need to be one of them.
Each box of stock needs clear labeling so you or your order picker can quickly find the products needed to fill each order.
You could scrawl on the boxes with a marker pen, but you’ll need very clear handwriting to make sure that there is no confusion over box contents. When you have hundreds of boxes come in on the same day, you can practically guarantee that your penmanship will degrade before you get even half of them marked up.
It’s also a good idea to label the contents inside each box. That way you’ll cut down on the wrong item being sent out because customer returns were re-shelved incorrectly.
You can print labels off on your computer but the simplest way to get the job done is with a portable label maker like the Dymo XTL. Handheld label makers let you quickly and accurately mark your stock as it arrives on your loading dock.
Keep Similar Products Together
It might seem logical to arrange stock alphabetically but this can lead to problems when you need to fill a customer order quickly. You would need to know exactly which label you used for the items. Did you label that box of blouses “white blouse 322” or was it “silk blouse - white 322”?
Putting all of your blouses and shirts in the same region of your stock room or warehouse will make it much faster to track down the products for customer orders, and to shelve new inventory as it comes in.
Keep a separate space for seasonal products and promotional lines which are likely to be picked multiple times a day.
Make Use of Vertical Space
Storage space is expensive, so you should use it efficiently.
Install shelving systems to make effective use of your vertical space instead of leaving your boxes on pallets. Stock arranged on shelves is also less likely to get damaged than stock down on the floor.
Along with your shelving you’ll need a sturdy set of non-slip step ladders, so high boxes can be reached safely.
You may also need to upgrade your lighting to make it easy to see what’s sitting on darkened shelves.
Keeping your inventory organized will save you from a lot of headaches. You’ll always know where to find the items you need. You’ll be able to fill customer orders and get them shipped quickly. And if you opt for an automated inventory management system, you’ll have real time inventory information, along with the value of that stock at your fingertips.