3 Inventory Management Tips That Can Help Businesses Prevent and Address Mistakes-Mark Lansky
Effectively managing inventory is vital for just about any sort of small business. Whether you’re a retail shop owner keeping track of quantities or an e-commerce manager handling your product supply, doing so effectively can help your small business succeed. Even with the best efforts, however, mistakes can happen. How you respond to these mistakes can be even more important for your long-term success, not to mention your reputation and profits. So, if you are a business owner, here are some insights that can help you deal with inventory issues.
Barcode Systems Can Make Product Counts More Accurate
Hand counting is the most basic method of tracking your stock and inventory, but depending on the nature of your business, using a barcode system can require less time and hassle. Plus, barcodes can remove some of the margin for human error when it comes to preventing costly inventory mistakes.
Not all barcodes are the same, however, so you need to be sure that the system you choose can stand up to the environment and needs of your small business. Chemicals, temperatures, and cleaning procedures can all impact the integrity and longevity of barcode labels, so make sure you find options that will fit the needs of your operation.
Also, keep in mind that barcode systems may come with higher upfront costs for your business, but you may be able to use small business funding to cover those expenses. Grants and funding programs may be especially beneficial if you have yet to open your business and are currently just researching the most effective practices for managing your inventory.
Fulfillment Systems Can Make Order Mistakes Less Likely
Miscounting inventory can have serious repercussions for your small business. When you miss products in your warehouse, you could end up missing out on sales or end up accidentally selling out-of-stock items to customers, which will leave you cleaning up a customer-service mess.
But stock counts aren’t the only inventory processes that can spell problems for your business. Another common inventory issue that trips up many business owners and managers is making order mistakes. Order mistakes can range from shipping the wrong items, shipping to the wrong customers, or not shipping an order at all.
While any of these inventory slip-ups can lead to disappointed customers and disappearing sales, you should be aware that some order issues can also result in additional profit losses for your business. So, as you organize your inventory management processes, look into ways to improve order fulfillment steps. For example, automation (including the use of barcodes) can be an extremely effective method for small businesses to improve order fulfillment and inventory management processes.
Customer Service Standards Can Make Issues Less Impactful
No matter how many improvements you make to your inventory management processes, mistakes will still happen. So, your best bet for preventing inventory and order issues from severely impacting your business is to create a superb customer service model. Treating your customers like they really matter, using positive language, and even using your customer’s names are all service standards that can help you overcome just about any mishap, whether it has to do with inventory or not. By using these best practices, customers will begin to see your business as more of a person than a thing and will develop a more personal connection.
If you or your staff don’t have the time to personally handle mishaps, consider bringing on a freelance customer service representative or specialist. You can hire top freelancers in the field of customer service by connecting with online staffing agencies. You may also find it beneficial to hire an outside consultant like PE4U who can advise you on improving processes and procedures to optimize the way your business operates.
Also, if you do make an inventory or order mistake, own up to it ASAP and find a practical way to fix it; this could involve providing prepaid return labels or offering a discount to affected customers. Either way, addressing mistakes in a timely manner is always crucial, so you should try to recognize and remedy missteps before your customers notice the mistake.
Implementing improvements to your inventory management systems can prevent many common inventory mishaps, but you can’t prevent them all. So, couple those improvements with stellar customer service, and you should be able to handle any issues that arise for your business without negatively impacting your bottom line or your long-term business success.