Small Business

5 Common Inventory Management Mistakes That’ll Cost You

February 9, 2018 • 5 min read

Whether you are just starting your own business or you already have one up and going, inventory is key to keeping your business afloat. Don’t underestimate the power that disorganization can have on your finances: some sources estimated that over ONE TRILLION dollars were lost worldwide in 2015 due to inventory mismanagement.

Here are 5 common mistakes that can erode the financial stability of your business—and how to avoid them using inventory management.

 1. Lack of training

Traditional inventory systems are kludgy, not user-friendly, and required training to use. This is a major issue for medium-to-large companies because they don’t want to waste money to train employees to use the new software. Even if they could hold the training seminars internally, most businesses cannot afford to lose the amount of on-the-clock time it would take. This results in very few employees knowing how to use the program, and if something goes wrong and they don’t know how to fix it, items can easily slip through the cracks in the system.

Small businesses have a similar issue: older inventory management programs are just too hard to learn! If you are working long hours to build your brand, there is no way you are going to want to take several hours a day to learn a system. Small business and start-up companies have an even tighter budget and less available time, so extensive training is not an option. On top of that: traditional inventory systems have features and capabilities that aren’t needed by most small businesses. 

Luckily, programs for almost any need are popping up all of the time. It is possible to find an option that lets you and your team learn on-the-go. One of the very first objectives we had when building the Sortly program was just that: creating a system that wasn’t just efficient, but also easy to pick up for business owners and staff.  It’s 2018. You shouldn’t need lengthy sales visits or a 100-page guide to figure out your inventory management or asset tracking software. Sortly is intuitive inventory management software you can have up and running in minutes, all on your own.

2. No inventory checks

Regular inventory audits are crucial to keeping your database up to date and making sure you are making the most out of what you have in stock (and keeping it in stock, more on that below.) Scheduling inventory assessments at the beginning of the year and sticking to that schedule is a must. It is a good idea to schedule an extra check around key sales events or seasons. Being busy is just one reason for missing audits, another big reason is… you guessed it… clunky software that none of your employees know how to use. All of these mistakes are connected.

A pile of binders.

3.Too many kinds of storage

You can never be too careful when backing up your files and other data, but if you don’t make sure to keep the information up-to-date it can cause a disaster. One of the best practices is to have a cloud-based program to catalog all of your items. It is still a good idea to have a hard backup, but to keep everything up-to-date it is a good idea to schedule backing up your inventory list in regular intervals and making sure you date and label them.

Sortly has the capability to sync data instantly across all devices, so everyone is seeing the same information in real time. This helps avoid major losses in time, money, and effort.

4.Bad communication

Especially for small businesses, a few misplaced items can be a big financial loss. When working on a small scale or trying to build a business, every unit of product and every piece of tech in the office is essential. A loss is not an option. It is very easy for a hard-working team to misplace items when in time crunch mode. A team management program is a great tool, and there are many options, some of which offer free plans! Our team likes to use Slack, but a few other big names are Trello, Asana, and Basecamp.

When we were crafting Sortly, we decided that teamwork was going to be one of the main focuses. We gave businesses the ability to add team members and assign permissions so that you can control which team members can view folders, and simplify the data so an individual only sees information relevant to them. When a team member checks the app, they can see notes and other information about the items a business is tracking.

Multicolor and black organizational boxes

5. Forgetting to re-order or re-stock

It is really a no-brainer, but running out of units is one of the leading causes of financial loss caused by inventory issues. If your office or warehouse is a busy place with a lot of employees handling items it can be easy to lose items or just sell out. This problem can be pretty hard to manage. Sure, inventory audits help you keep track of what you have. But doing full audits once or twice a week isn’t feasible. Clearly labeling items and having a standard of organization are ways to make it easier to spot when you need to re-order. If you use Avery, we make it easy to format QR codes in the app that are formatted to fit Avery labels so you can print them yourself. 

All of these mistakes are connected, and if you can correct a few of them, it should make it simple to deal with the others! Once you have a streamlined process in place with automated features, it is easy to prevent financial losses caused by inventory issues.

Ready to get organized? Start your free trial of Sortly today!