Managing your inventory is at the core of any successful business. But good inventory management is about much more than logistics—it’s a window into the health of your business, showing you which products work and which don’t, helping you forecast your future, and giving you clues to how to best to grow. This guide will help you quickly advance from simply knowing what’s on your shelves to using today’s best technological tools to analyze and refine your sales tactics in real time.
Inventory Management 101
As with anything, you’ve got to get the basics down first. Good inventory management starts with understanding what you have and getting a handle on your logistics. This can be time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be—a modern POS system with integrated inventory management tools can save you a lot of time.
- Keep your storeroom organized, and do everything you can to make regular inventory counts as simple as possible.
- Keep your inventory as lean as you can.
- Keep your overhead low by negotiating with vendors.
- Understand the most common ways businesses price their products, and choose the one that works for you.
- Know how and why shrinkage occurs, and how to prevent it.
- Confront the problem of employee theft head-on.
It’s one thing to know what’s on the shelf, but it’s another thing to know how best to push it out the door. Once you’ve got your inventory management system as close to air-tight as possible, it’s time to get strategic. This means displaying your products attractively, knowing when to offer discounts, and keeping some tricks up your sleeve for that item that just won’t sell.
- Learn how to create a display that moves product.
- Learn some tricks for selling perishable products faster—or upcycling them if all else fails.
- Figure out what to do with that product that just won’t move.
- Use discounts and clearance sales strategically.
- Know what to do when you sell out of something.
- Teach your employees how to move more product by upselling.
Big Data for Your Small Business
A modern inventory management system that integrates with your POS system is an invaluable tool for any small business. Today’s technology allows you to see what’s selling, not just at the end of the quarter, but from minute to minute. Use that data to make smarter business decisions.
- Get detailed performance reports on all your products.
- Know when it’s time to discontinue a product.
- Make sure you have the right overall product mix.
- Use real-time data to respond to changing conditions quickly.
- Data can also help you design better promotions.
Planning for Smart Growth
All that data your smart inventory management system is tracking can also help you grow your business more intelligently. After all, if you know exactly what’s working today, you can create more detailed projections of what might work tomorrow.
- Go beyond understanding what’s selling now and develop a product strategy for the future.
- When you launch a new product, do it with an eye on the data.
- Know when it’s the right time to add a second (or third, or fourth) location.
- Think like a startup—experiment, fail fast, and learn what works.
Clover is sold by leading U.S. banks including Bank of America, BBVA, Citi, PNC, Sun Trust and Wells Fargo. You’ll also find Clover at our trusted partners including Ignite Payments, Restaurant Depot, and Sam’s Club. For more information, visit us at clover.com.