Every business faces at least a few inventory-related challenges, but organizations that track large inventory quantities must address a unique set of challenges. In this article, we’ll dive into some proven strategies for managing large amounts of inventory and discuss how certain best practices can help your business track more inventory using less time and fewer resources.
What is considered a large amount of inventory?
While there’s no magic number at which an organization’s inventory levels are considered high, there is one tell-tale sign your business is managing quite a bit of product.
If your business cannot physically count all the inventory in its possession, then it carries a large amount of inventory. Even if your employees could technically count every item in stock, you’ll know you’ve ventured into “enterprise-level” territory when asking your teams to do so would wreak havoc on your everyday operations.
Remember that some businesses don’t carry very much sellable inventory but stock high quantities of supplies and materials. Even small businesses can carry a large amount of inventory once they account for sellable goods, parts, materials, supplies, tools, and equipment.
For example, a local plumbing company might spread hundreds of parts across a half-dozen trucks. While that inventory might be manageable if it were all stocked in one location, the always-in-motion business model necessitates a large-quantity inventory management strategy.
Consider what it would look like for your team to account for every last thing your business owns. If that seems impossible or not worth the pain, consider implementing a more modern inventory management strategy. After all, certain automation features are designed to help companies track large amounts of stock.
How to track large quantities of inventory
Once your business implements an inventory strategy for managing its inventory, you’ll need to settle on an inventory system your whole team can use. Here’s how to get started.
1. Select an inventory system designed for large quantity inventory
There are a variety of inventory management systems available to your business. From a simple sheet of paper to an inventory spreadsheet to cutting-edge inventory software, you’ll find many options at every price point.
Almost always, businesses that track large quantities of inventory turn to inventory software to streamline their management strategy. That’s because only inventory software offers automation features businesses need to empower large teams to track inventory remotely. Features such as barcode and QR code scanning, low stock alerts, item histories, customizable reports, and the ability to track inventory using smartphones and tablets are essential.
2. Organize your stockroom
Once you’ve settled on the right inventory software, set your business up for success by physically organizing your stockroom for more intelligent inventory management. Whether you have one warehouse or hundreds, empower all teams to create storage space that makes sense, saves time, and keeps employees safe.
The same goes for your company’s fleet of vehicles. Whether that’s ambulances or electric cars, create organizational systems that can help you stock, store, and utilize inventory better.
3. Utilize key features
Ideally, the inventory management software you selected will offer powerful features designed to save your business time, stress, and money. From barcode and QR code scanning to automated alerts, ensure your entire team knows how to use—and get the most out of—these offerings.
Create barcode and QR code labels for unlabeled stock on your shelves. Use customizable alerts to know when inventory is approaching minimum stock levels or expiration dates. Get notified when key maintenance dates are approaching. Once your business begins to lean on these features, your team will find more time to focus on the rest of their responsibilities.
Two other key features to implement right away? Customizable, easy-to-filter, by-location reports and cloud-based syncing will allow your entire team to access those updated inventory records in real time.
Another feature to emphasize is folders. Software such as Sortly allows users to create customizable, flexible organizational hierarchies using easy-to-edit folders. Businesses can create layer after layer of folders to organize their stock in a way that makes sense for the teams that track those items. Once you’ve found the right way to organize your business’s inventory, managing large quantities of inventory is much easier.
4. Differentiate variations of inventory
If your business stocks variants, the best inventory management software will allow you to create variant sub-items nested under a single item. Whether your business needs to differentiate sizes, colors, or other variations of a product, features like variants allow your team to manage larger amounts of inventory with less confusion.
5. Streamline reordering systems
Every business struggles with ordering inventory at some point. But for businesses that stock large quantities of inventory, placing orders can be especially challenging, particularly if inventory is ordered for many locations or from dozens of different vendors.
If your organization is serious about optimizing its large inventory management strategy, it must also rethink how it places inventory orders. From standardizing when inventory records are reviewed to how orders are placed to exactly how inventory is checked in when it arrives, creating a standard operating procedure designed around high-volume inventory can save your team time and money.
If you decide to outline your reordering process, select a system your whole organization can stick with for the long haul. Remember, you can always update and improve your strategy as you grow.
6. Break up audits
As previously discussed, businesses that carry high volumes of inventory struggle—or truly cannot—physically count inventory. But this does not mean that your business should not conduct inventory audits. When performed, annual inventory audits can identify costly concerns such as:
- Inventory obsolescence and shrinkage
- Poor adherence to standard operating procedures, from organizational efforts to reordering protocols
- Quality control concerns
- Inadequate maintenance
Ideally, the results of your year-end audit will highlight discrepancies in data, speed up accounting responsibilities, and shape your retraining schedule for the following year. Because your business has maintained accurate, perpetual inventory all year round, these audits will already feel less stressful than they may have in previous years.
Still, your business will likely need to practice some version of inventory cycle counting to achieve this. Inventory cycle counting is a popular, piecemeal approach to physical inventory counting where employees count only small sections of inventory at a time. Some businesses count every segment of inventory eventually. Others only perform random cycle counts to determine whether further audits into a location’s entire inventory are required.
No matter how your business decides to take on audits, breaking them up and carefully reviewing the findings will improve your inventory management strategy.
Experience the simplest inventory management software.
Sortly is top-rated inventory management software engineered to help businesses track large quantities of inventory. With all the features your teams need to manage busy stockrooms, warehouses, and supply closets, Sortly has the flexibility and scalability to suit your business now and as it grows.
Ready to discover how Sortly can streamline your team’s inventory management processes? Try a free, two-week trial or our top-rated inventory app today.