Your stockroom is the heart of your inventory management system. It’s where your business stores the inventory and assets needed to keep it operating productively and profitably. Without a solid organizational strategy, it’s challenging to keep your inventory organized.
If your business is committed to reducing storage costs; speeding up tedious, inventory-related tasks, meeting customer demands faster, and minimizing inventory shrinkage, spoilage, and obsolescence; then organizing your stockroom correctly is an essential first step.
In this article, we’ll walk you through a six-step process of how to organize a stockroom. Of course, you can tweak this strategy to meet your business’s unique needs. But we’ve found these adaptable stockroom organization ideas are a great place to start.
1. Create an inventory list
Before you optimize and organize your storage space, you must figure out precisely what inventory your business needs. If you already use inventory management software, you can review your inventory records to determine what stock you need, how much of it you need, and where. You may be able to discern this from inventory spreadsheets or manual inventory lists, too.
Once you’ve gathered that information, sit down and create a detail-rich inventory list. If you’re using an inventory app, you’ll be able to add pictures, include attachments, and sync barcodes and QR codes.
Suppose you aren’t entirely sure what your business has on hand or what inventory it requires to operate smoothly. In that case, you’ll want to conduct an inventory audit, talk to your employees about usage, and do your best to create a thorough stocklist. Of course, you can always make adjustments as you grow more organized and understand your company’s needs better.
2. Make the most of your space
Once you know what your business has—and what it needs—it’s time to get organized.
Whether your business only has one tiny storage closet or owns a dozen warehouses across the country, optimizing your storage space is essential. Start by identifying all storage opportunities, on-site and off, including inside company fleets, within filing cabinets, and in your workspace’s forgotten nooks and crannies.
Once you’ve made a list of every place where you could store inventory, think about what inventory needs to go where. Talk to other employees about what systems work for them and what current processes feel inefficient. These insights can really help shape a better organizational strategy.
After you’ve got a handle on how and where inventory should be stored, create the infrastructure needed to support that system. Think about how you need to prepare for better stockroom organization. Increase space by adding vertical and hanging storage. Make high-touch tools and supplies even more accessible by keeping them on thoughtfully-organized rolling carts. Remove inventory from bulky, space-wasting boxes and packaging.
And don’t forget to consider the limitations of your storage and the requirements of the inventory you stock. Raw materials, for example, often have stringent storage protocols. You’ll need to consider everything from sun exposure to humidity levels when storing such items.
The same goes for high-value assets and other expensive inventory. You may need to implement security measures, such as installing locks or surveillance cameras, to keep inventory safe.
3. Think about how you stock your shelves
Once you’ve prepared your stockroom with the right inventory and equipment, it’s time to get granular. You’ll need to make a plan for how to stock every shelf, every bin. Don’t just throw inventory wherever it fits. Instead, think strategically about what inventory your employees need easy access to and what stock is only used a couple of times a year. Optimize your shelves so that the most commonly used items are at eye level and thus easy to grab. Your less commonly used (but still important) items can go higher. Heavier items should go on bottom shelves for maximum stability. You can also get creative with shelving dividers and drawers to maximize shelf space. This is especially important for organizing a retail stockroom, where employees have to quickly grab products and replenish stock for customers.
You can use inventory management software to track where everything goes, noting the specific location of each item—even for tiny things, like nails, nuts, and bolts. It’s also a good idea to use labels or some other identifier to clarify where inventory is stored. You can speed this process up with the help of an in-app barcode and QR code scanner. (If your inventory doesn’t already have barcodes or QR codes, you can use Sortly to generate and print them.)
In a perfect world, the inventory you use day in and day out will be stocked where it’s easiest to reach. All inventory, if it expires, should be stocked using the first-in, first-out (FIFO) method, where inventory set to expire is placed in front of identical inventory that expires later.
Related: How Do You Organize Inventory?
4. Think about employee safety
Unfortunately, stockrooms cannot be organized only around convenience. All businesses need to consider employee safety, too. There are various safety concerns to weigh when organizing a stockroom, many of which are industry-specific. These guidelines are just a few of many considerations:
- The heaviest inventory should always be stored as close to the ground as possible to avoid top-heavy shelves. Ensure your employees are prepared to lift heavy inventory properly.
- Hazardous inventory should be stored in accordance with all rules and regulations—and guidelines should be posted for all to see.
- All shelves should be bolted to the wall.
- Safety audits, ongoing training, and compliance with all local, state, and federal safety regulations are a must.
5. Consider alternative storage solutions
If you’re low on storage space, you might consider storing inventory off-site instead of overcrowding your stockroom. Small stockroom organization requires a little bit of creativity, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
Look for a less expensive storage solution across town—or even talk to your suppliers about storing inventory for you. Sometimes, if you spend enough with a vendor, they’ll store inventory for you, then deliver it upon request. This is especially wise for businesses that maintain backstock but usually know before they need to dip into it.
Related: How to Find Suppliers You Trust
6. Create a standard operating procedure
Once you’ve walked through the first five steps, you’re ready to codify your organization plan. This plan will outline what inventory is needed, where it’s stored, how it’s reordered and restocked, how inventory is kept secure, and how employees are kept safe.
Whether you plan to use inventory management software, an inventory spreadsheet, or a sheet of paper to track your inventory, this standard operating procedure (SOP) will help your business stay organized even after the thrill of a tidy stockroom wears off.
Many businesses find it helpful to post maps, charts, and other documentation that shows team members exactly how inventory should be stocked. You can also conduct audits from time to time to ensure all protocols are being followed, from organizational to safety.
Sortly is an inventory management solution that helps you track, manage, and organize your inventory—from any device, in any location. We’re an easy-to-use inventory software that’s perfect for small businesses. Sortly builds inventory tracking seamlessly into your workday so you can save time and money, satisfy your customers, and help your business succeed.
With Sortly, you can track inventory, supplies, parts, tools, assets like equipment and machinery, and anything else that matters to your business. It comes equipped with smart features like barcoding & QR coding, low stock alerts, customizable folders, data-rich reporting, and much more. Best of all, you can update inventory right from your smartphone, whether you’re on the job, in the warehouse, or on the go.
Whether you’re just getting started with inventory management or you’re an expert looking for a more efficient solution, we can transform how your company manages inventory—so you can focus on building your business. That’s why over 10,000 businesses globally trust us as their inventory management solution.
Start your two-week free trial of Sortly today.