Regardless if you’re in wholesale or retail, you will likely agree that inventory tracking can be complicated. Unfortunately, much of the success of your business lies in inventory, too, making accuracy, maintenance and selection a crucial aspect of your small business that you just cannot sweep under the rug. Therefore, it may be high time to start treating inventory, not as a necessary evil, but the possible be-all and end-all of how to grow your inventory-based small business.
The key is in breaking it down into small, bite-sized pieces that you can easily manage and organize systematically, rather than tackling it piecemeal when the spirit moves you. Consider the following components:
YOUR INVENTORY MANAGEMENT
There’s no doubt as to the importance of solid inventory management. The real question lies in doing it right. One legitimate concern is, of course, the question of how much inventory should you carry at any given time. While the basic answer lies in the law of supply and customer demand, there are actually more factors to consider, such as shelf life, seasonality, storage, and cost.
This is where inventory control comes in. As labor-intensive as this task might seem, there are always ways to simplify it. A way to do so is by investing in inventory management software. When implemented right, a good system not only helps you track inventory but it will also potentially boost your bottom line by streamlining the process. And with a streamlined process, everything else really just falls into place.
Storage is a significant factor when it comes to inventory management. Know that different products have different turnover rates. Moreover, certain products may require special storage conditions. So while some products are okay in your basement, for example, others may be better suited in climate-controlled self-storage or even a warehouse. There are really no specific hard and fast rules when it comes to inventory storage, but there are best practices, and to some extent, you will need to play it by ear.
More inventory often means more work. Not exactly something to complain about, but with a growing business, it can mean biting off more than you can chew if you’re on your own. New Castle Systems notes that expanding your inventory into a warehouse will inevitably necessitate hiring additional hands, not only to make your life easier but also to keep your business running smoothly and efficiently.
Of course, this then opens up the challenge of finding and vetting employees, often at a moment’s notice. Unfortunately, traditional staffing agencies often can’t deliver manpower fast enough. It’s a good idea to explore different avenues, such as a platform that specializes in finding top-notch laborers on an on demand basis, effectively cutting your search time for labor staff by a significant amount. You may also consider outsourcing recruiting efforts.
Lastly, as your business grows, you need to be able to keep up with customer demand. While this, of course, entails having sufficient inventory, this also means having the right customer-facing avenue in place. For many small businesses, this translates to having a website—and not just any website, but one that can handle a high influx of traffic and sales.
It’s definitely good practice to upgrade your website as your business grows—or start one if you don’t have one yet. For something as central to your operations as your website, don’t leave it to chance. Instead, find a web designer who has a high understanding of web-building basics, user experience, and the gamut of design platforms to create a website that effectively engages your customers and offers a great user experience to maximize conversions. Outsourcing big and small web projects leaves you with more time and energy to focus on other needs and demands.
In conclusion, there’s little doubt that growing your inventory-based small business will keep you on your toes. But with systematic inventory control and strategic help here and there, you are better able to stay on the path to growth and success. Keep your eyes on the prize!