Combatting Stock Control Problems

Combatting Stock Control Problems

In this new series of posts I will be looking at some common problems faced by small to medium-sized wholesale businesses when processing their orders, and suggesting ways to address the issues.

Today's focus is stock control because this is at the core of any wholesale business.

Scenario 1

Inventory report states there are 10 of item A in stock, but there are actually only 9 physically there.

Possible Causes

  1. When the stock was originally received, it may have been mis-counted. Perhaps there was 1 missing from the original shipment when it was checked in on the system.
  2. The missing item may be somewhere else in the stock room.
  3. The missing item may have been sent to a customer without being recorded on the system. Common reasons for this include; replacing a faulty item, sending a free gift as a goodwill gesture, finding a faulty item and removing it from the warehouse but not from the system, a system fault, taking a telephone order and forgetting to log it on the system or just good old fashioned human error.
  4. The missing item could have been stolen.

Scenario 2

Inventory report states that there are 200 of item B in stock, but there are actually 250.

Possible Causes

  1. When the stock was originally received, it may have been mis-counted or entered incorrectly into the system.
  2. The extra 50 may be a different, similar SKU that have been stored in the wrong place.
  3. The extra 50 may be from a cancelled order that was never cancelled off on the system.

Scenario 3

Items keep being mixed up, and not stored in the correct locations. Especially problematic for businesses supplying many similar products.

Possible Causes

  1. Inadequate labelling of bins/shelves/warehouse locations.
  2. Staff may require training and more hands-on contact with the stock.
  3. The layout and structure of the warehouse or stock room may need improvements.

All three of these scenarios will cause terrible problems for your customers, and will make your business inefficient and chaotic. If these problems aren't nipped in the bud, the problems snowball and the end result is disastrous as the inefficiencies touch all areas of the company.

The good news is, sorting all of these problems out is actually quite simple. Here are my tips for efficient, stress-free stock management, click through to the links where available for thorough advice on each step.

  1. A well thought-out SKU system, so your stock codes are recognisable and easy to understand.
  2. Regular, complete stock takes. I would advise this should be done at least quarterly, but it very much depends on the volume of orders and stock you generate.
  3. An organised stock room or warehouse. Clearly labelled, efficiently located stock and suitable storage for your particular needs. If this sounds expensive, and you have little or no budget, take heart - it doesn't have to cost much at all.
  4. A computerised system that is easy to keep updated. In the early days this could just be a spreadsheet, whatever works best for you. But it needs to be reviewed regularly to make sure it is remaining accurate and is working for you, not against you.
  5. If several staff are handling stock and fulfilling orders, recording who has been responsible for each stock movement is essential. It makes it easier to identify problems and address any gaps in training.

Needless to say Orderspace can help with all of the above, and we would love you to take a free trial if you are looking to improve efficiency and workflow.

Further Reading:
What is B2B e-commerce?
Transitioning to an online wholesale ordering system
Simplifying the wholesale order process
Efficient Order Processing