Running a business can be incredibly complicated. For a business that buys and sells a product or products, success or failure is often directly related to the management of its inventory. Purchasing too much unnecessarily ties up resources in inventory that is sitting on a shelf or in a warehouse, which means the cash flow of the business can be adversely affected. On the other hand, bare shelves translate into lost sales and potentially lost customers who migrate to the competition.
Inventory management has progressed from the days when a business owner ordered replacement items when the shelf began to look bare, or when the item was on sale from the wholesaler. With the advent and widespread use of bar codes and RFID the volume of sales for each item in inventory can be tracked, and replacement can be ordered either automatically or in response to a pre-set number of sales or remaining quantity.
The days of closing a business for an entire week while each item was counted by hand are gone. Instead of one annual inventory, a daily summary can be accumulated and posted to an online ledger automatically by a number of inventory software packages which are readily available. The process is simple once initiated, as the beginning quantity for each item is captured, and the total decremented each time the bar code or RFID is swiped. Most software packages can be programmed to account for breakage, spillage or theft periodically, and manual spot checks can confirm their accuracy.
Business owners wishing to implement automated inventory tracking must ensure that their physical management processes are well defined as to part numbering, receiving, storing and stocking. Knowing how many of a certain part or product are on hand does no one any good if the item or items are tucked away in a dark corner of a warehouse or back room. No automated tracking system can be better than the management tools in use.
One of the more popular software systems available for small business owners is the quickbooks suite of products. Many have incorporated the quickbooks inventory management module into their existing software in order to more easily track inventory levels.