Why it’s important to perform a physical inventory count at the end of the year
As we near the end of the year, now is a good time to talk about the importance of physical inventory counts to prepare for the next year.
Although many companies use inventory management software to track inventory throughout the year, it’s important to perform a physical count to ensure what you have on hand matches what is in your system. An end-of-the-year inventory count can reveal how your stock has been affected by shrinkage – damaged, miscounted, or stolen inventory.
The best time to perform a physical inventory count can vary from business to business. While some businesses who are typically slow near the end of the year can take advantage of taking physical inventory during the holiday season, others should hold off on conducting an inventory count if the holidays are a peak time. If your business is typically busy during the holidays, consider performing an inventory estimate – factoring in shrinkage – and wait until after post-holiday sales have been completed to do an actual inventory.
The general goal of performing inventory is to make sure you have enough stock on hand to meet the needs of your customers without having goods that will expire, lose popularity, become obsolete, or needlessly take up space.
Many businesses choose to classify their inventory by importance:
- The top tier is for high-demand products you expect to sell quickly.
- The middle tier is for items that are somewhat important in terms of price and order frequency.
- The bottom tier is for goods that aren’t as important because they either have a low-profit margin or aren’t frequently ordered.
Now that you’ve organized your stock into tiers, let’s discuss their fastest and easiest ways to perform inventory counts.
Tablets with barcode scanners
Tablets with barcode scanners are a great way to productively perform inventory for your entire warehouse. Many companies choose to rent iPads or Surface tablets, but if you’re worried about your employees dropping or damaging your rental equipment during inventory, rugged Android tablets are also a popular rental item.
Before barcode scanners became widely used, inventory counts were conducted using SKU numbers or performing counts manually. This painstaking process not only takes up more time but also leaves you more vulnerable to mistakes and shrinkage. Furthermore, the real-time information provided by barcode scanners can help you forecast future sales and more easily determine in-demand items.
Since items are scanned as they come in and leave the warehouse, it’s easy to determine how many products are returned and if they are within the warranty period. Additionally, if your organization has a major recall, you’ll be in the position to track the percentage of products that have been returned or replaced.
By implementing barcode scanning tablets, you’ll be able to track your products more effectively. That way if a customer calls and wants to know when their product will be shipped, your representatives will be able to properly inform them of where the item is in the delivery cycle. In addition to performing much faster audits, you’ll also be able to track when your employees check-in and out on their inventory-counting-devices – giving you 100% certainty of the labor costs associated with inventory tracking.
Laptops, printers, and scanners
Although tablets are the most portable way to perform inventory, some companies choose to implement laptops for end-of-the-year inventory to set up a temporary command center on the warehouse floor. Your portable command center can be used to plug in any necessary peripherals into your rental laptop’s USB ports – like barcode scanners, printers, and traditional scanners. You can connect a printer to print out more tally sheets, or a scanner to quickly get an electronic version of a completed tally sheet for future reference. Laptops with full numeric pads, or external numeric pads connected via USB, make entering inventory counts a breeze.
If you need more screen space for your mobile command center, monitor rentals are also available. Rentacomputer.com can also preload the necessary software onto your rental devices in order to streamline the inventory counting process.
Although tablets, laptops, printers, and scanners can make taking stock of your inventory much faster, it’s important to make sure you have the appropriate wireless internet to reach your entire warehouse or store.
You can’t keep track of the inventory your employees are scanning – or run your software – without wireless internet. If your warehouse doesn’t already have WiFi from corner to corner, a mobile hotspot or WiFi router rental may be the perfect solution for your business. Our technicians will make sure there are no dead spots so you can effectively perform end-of-the-year inventory.
Project future inventory and dispose of unwanted stock
After you’ve completed your physical inventory count, it’s time to budget your inventory for the coming year. Although your inventory budget may change with customer demand, the economy, new items, and other factors, it’s important to get a head start.
Now that you’ve organized your inventory into tiers, you can consider freeing up warehouse space for items that have higher profit margins. This is the time to hold sales and consider mark-downs to move these unwanted items out of your inventory. There are also other ways to dispose of unwanted stock such as:
- Selling to a liquidator. Although you probably won’t make much, it’s an opportunity to open up some space on your shelves and buy new inventory.
- Donating items. Donations can also be used for tax write-offs.
- Using items as a promotion. In order to sell unwanted items, consider selling them with more desired stock in order to promote the sale of bottom-tier goods.
End-of-the-year inventory device rentals with Rentacomputer.com
Are you considering renting a device to make your physical inventory count easier this year? Our account manager Randy Moore specializes in laptop, tablet, smartphone, internet hotspot, and accessory rentals. Randy will gladly handle any questions you may have in regards to rentals to make your inventory count easier. Contact Randy today at 1-800-736-8772 ext. 225 or fill out a fast, easy online quote form today.