Inventory Management

What is the purpose of cycle counting?

An associate takes inventory on a tablet.

An inventory cycle count is a tried-and-true inventory management technique that calls for counting a specific subset of inventory in a certain place, on a certain day, at regular and recurring intervals. For example, if you owned a sporting goods store, you might inventory all your baseball equipment at your Bronx location on the first Monday of the month, and your baseball equipment at your Queens location on the second Monday. Then, you’d repeat that every month, creating a cycle between each inventory count.

What is the purpose of cycle counting?

The purpose of cycle counting is to keep tabs on inventory by counting a specific subset of inventory at regularly-scheduled intervals. An annual audit of every little thing a company stocks often require businesses to shutter, and is often performed too infrequently to prevent inventory loss. Cycle counting offers business owners a helpful and effective alternative to costly and time-consuming inventory counts.  

You may also see an inventory cycle count referred to as an inventory cycle audit. 

Related: What is an inventory cycle count?

How often should you perform an inventory cycle count?

Periodic inventory counts can be performed at any interval you wish, provided the intervals are consistent and recurrent. The bigger the warehouse, and the faster you turnover inventory, the more frequent your inventory cycle counts should be. 

After all, a more regular glimpse into your inventory will offer you more insight into what you’ve got and when, allowing you to forecast better and practice tighter inventory control

Related: What is the difference between perpetual inventory and physical inventory?

Who should perform inventory cycle counts?

Inventory cycle counts should be performed by trustworthy, accurate associates in businesses that have the manpower to handle the audits without neglecting other work responsibilities. 

As always, business owners or inventory managers will need to weigh the pros of inventory cycle counting with the cons. Yes, inventory cycle counts provide frequent, accurate glimpses into inventory levels, but there are inventory apps that can help with that, too. 

Case in point: a small business with only a few stockrooms could probably get by with a full-on inventory audit once a year, or simply use inventory software to track changes to inventory as they happen.  

Inventory management software vs. inventory cycle counts

Inventory is used on smartphones, a desktop computer and a tablet.

Many of the benefits of inventory cycle counting can be reaped from using inventory management software, and for a lot less effort, too. Inventory management software–or an inventory app–can help your employees or associates track inventory effortlessly and without errors. After all, human error is one of the chief flaws of inventory cycle counts. 

Inventory software like Sortly offers tons of key features that help you keep perpetual inventory in a fraction of the time. Sortly allows you to:

  • Keep track of current stock levels across multiple locations
  • Scan barcodes and QR codes to check items in and out, quickly update levels or learn more about an item in an instant
  • Create robust, customized inventory details full of the information that matters most to you
  • Link pictures, attachments and more to your items
  • Generate customized reports full of powerful insights into your business
  • Set alerts so you’ll know whenever an item is running low, approaching expiration or warranty end
  • Give customized access to your team, so everyone can help out
  • Access your inventory from any smartphone, tablet or computer

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