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Managing Inventory Online

By Belinda Gadd

3 min read

While an accurate inventory is essential to business, maintaining one can be a chore – especially if you do it manually. Here’s how you can create a comprehensive inventory that saves you time and money while remaining accurate to the minute. Start managing inventory better.

Features of a Useful Inventory

An inventory is only useful to a business when it is accurate, up to date and contains comprehensive data.

Therefore, a good inventory should include the following:

  • Product categories
  • Product names
  • Product number identifiers
  • Serial numbers and codes
  • Quantities in stock
  • Quantities held on lay-by or pre-order
  • Variables such as colour or size
  • Recommended retail price
  • Any applied discounts
  • Location of product (particularly if you operate across several locations)
  • Date of supply
  • Delivery methods and postage rates
  • Tax rates

Manual Versus Automated Inventories

While a spreadsheet may be a classic inventory style for someone starting out in business – perhaps with minimal stock and resources – it can lead to time exhaustion, business interruption and inefficiency for those with significant stock to manage.

A simple error or oversight can cause immense ordering hassles, confusion and delays, which could inevitably impact customer service. It can also adversely impact your brand and reputation if you’re striving to be a professional, trusted organisation.

Automated inventories – while requiring a higher initial outlay – are essentially an investment in the administration and overall management of the business. Automated inventories are easier to keep up to date, accurate and take less time and effort to maintain.

What’s more, automated inventories can be a useful tool in tracking customer orders and stock, identifying stock issues such as over-ordering, and managing sales cycles and business operations generally.

QuickBooks Online is an accounting software tool that enables you to input customer data and ordering information while maintaining your inventory data. Best of all, you can use it across multiple platforms including mobile devices any time of the day and from anywhere in the world.

Information can also be shared and viewed by multiple users, as well as extracted in various formats for ease of understanding.

QuickBooks Online is also flexible enough to allow for add-on software to maximise your inventory and stock management capabilities. Examples include Fishbowl, Acctivate and NumberCruncher.

Tips for an Accurate Inventory

When managing your inventory, there are some useful ways you can ensure it remains accurate and up to date. For example, by linking your inventory data with your invoicing system, you can reduce the time it takes to update records to reflect stock sold, moved or returned.

If you have several users, online accounting software like QuickBooks Online is a flexible and no-fuss way to share product and purchase order data with your colleagues.

Set threshold limits for stock ordering and review stock performance regularly. This will help ensure you can move stock efficiently and reduce the risk of over-ordering.

Use graphs and visual aids to check the performance of various products, locations and payment trends. This will help you identify issues and concerns, as well as opportunities for potential growth and business improvement.

Lastly, having effective communication with your selling staff can ensure you meet customer demands during promotional periods and seasonal highs, as well as during stocktake periods. A key way to ensure communication is clear is to use a shared inventory platform like QuickBooks Online, which allows up to five users to access, view and share up-to-date stock information. What’s more, you can even control what other users see in order to maintain commercial confidentiality. Data loss and theft can be devastating for businesses. That’s why it pays to use accounting software that features an automatic backup of data.

If you’re looking for better ways to manage or track your inventory, consider cloud accounting tools as an investment in your business while saving you time and effort.

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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