How to Organize Store Inventory


Organizing store inventory is an art and a science. You must have a plan for organizing your inventory to properly take care of merchandise, find it when you look for it, keep it from growing stale and adequately stock your shelves. But managing inventory involves more than building shelves and labeling boxes. If you properly plan the layout and process of your stockroom, you can turn what is laborious for some into an well-maintained and integral part of your business.

Things You'll Need

  • Shelving
  • Signage
  • Bar-code printer
  • Inventory management software
  • Warehouse layout software

Inventory Placement

  • Purchase warehouse management software. This will typically allow you to diagram your sales floor and warehouse to scale, drawing racks and shelving as necessary.

  • Design a draft of warehouse and salesroom floor plans. Picture your existing shelving and displays without consideration to purchasing more. Label high traffic areas and areas that get little or no traffic.

  • Meet with key employees to discuss turnover rates of your product lines. Place highest-turnover items toward the front of your warehouse and on the ends of racks for easy restocking. Place seasonal or slower-turnover items toward the back.

  • Establish a customer pickup or holding area separate from the other racks. Locate it near the customer pickup waiting area to prevent sold merchandise from accidentally being restocked and sold to someone else.

  • Segregate open-box and returned goods in a separate processing area to prevent accidentally reselling used goods as new product. Place a desk and shipping supplies near this area for return authorization processing.

  • Purchase or build an area that can be locked to hold the most valuable merchandise, especially if it is easily carried -- and thus stolen.

Simplifying Inventory

  • Establish or evaluate your stock numbering procedures. Create a logical numbering scheme that allows for categorization of inventory.

  • Label each rack in your warehouse using a bar-code printer and large-print signage displaying your numbering schema. Use a simple rack numbering system and use stock numbers that relate to the rack. An example of this would be stocking all items that use the 50000-59999 range on rack 5.

  • Straighten individual items with their front facing forward that are not in a master pack box. If there are unopened "master packs," or large boxes with individual items inside, store and label them on the top shelf for easier counting.

  • Draw a large warehouse map on a large dry-erase board. This allows new employees to find merchandise categories easier.

  • Monitor in-stock condition of your sales floor with an eye on whether all items are being restocked. Slow restocking rates may stem from poor surplus inventory management.

Tips & Warnings

  • Label shelves so you can tell when stock is sold out. This applies to sales floors and warehouses.
  • Perform inventory as often as is applicable, and use this data to evaluate your stock placement.
  • Consider picker and forklift safety. Label the areas that will use them keeping a path open for foot traffic to be able to pull merchandise.

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