Losing track of your product inventory can create big hassles. Not knowing how much profit you’re making is a nightmare for record-keeping and accounting. And being drastically overstocked or understocked on certain items is inefficient and can disappoint customers. As if keeping tabs on everything weren’t tough under normal circumstances, it’s exponentially more difficult when you’re traveling.
Here are 3 tips for staying on top of your supply while you’re on the go.
- Use a point-of-sale inventory system. Forget manually tracking your stock. Save time and increase accuracy by investing in a point-of-sale (POS) inventory tracking system. Many POS software tools are available, and although they may have different features and price points, all of them work by marking off an item in your inventory the moment it’s been scanned and sold. More advanced POS systems can maintain data on your most popular items and categories — and can be set up to trigger automatic purchase orders for items that you want to keep in stock.
- Outsource your inventory management. If you run an online-based business and your products are easy to package and don’t require much warehouse space, consider outsourcing your inventory management and order fulfillment. You send a bulk shipment of your products to the fulfillment company, and it takes care of managing inventory and shipping orders out to customers. Although outsourcing will cut into your profit margins, the time you’ll save by eliminating inventory management and order fulfillment from your daily tasks could help you grow your business faster.
- Implement an RFID system. Once used only by farmers to keep track of cattle, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags — which emit radio signals that identify their locations — are now commonly used by many suppliers and retailers. Tracking the physical location of products allows vendors to keep tabs on inventory stock (and help notice acts of shoplifting). Instead of scanning hundreds of individual bar codes when new merchandise comes in, a vendor can scan an entire shipment with an RFID reader. Unlike a bar code, which must be scanned to “check out” a product, an RFID tag automatically sends a signal when it has changed location. Although RFID technology is far more convenient than the traditional bar code, it isn’t cheap to implement: Readers can cost from one to several thousand dollars, and each tag can cost anywhere from $10 to $50. That may be cost prohibitive — but if you’re selling high-end merchandise and are worried that your employees won’t keep close control over your inventory while you’re out of the shop, an RFID system may be worth the investment.