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Inventory Management Essentials Every Small Business Needs

Inventory Management Essentials Every Small Business Needs

It’s an email no small business owner wants to receive: a customer is upset because they received the wrong item in their order, or maybe they didn’t receive their order at all. While these sort of inventory mishaps are fairly common, they can be very stressful for small business owners, especially when it leads to problems for and with the customers. This is why if you own a business that ships or sells goods, you need to have a few inventory management tricks up your sleeves to prevent embarrassing mistakes from happening in the first place. Not sure where to start? These inventory management essentials can provide you with the help you need.

Warehouse Management Tools and Software

Having a warehouse full of products is typically a sign that your small business is booming, but if you’re new to the warehouse game, you need to take some precautionary steps to ensure your warehouse operations are running like clockwork. Start with the right software, which will make managing your warehouse more effective and less prone to errors. Examples of top inventory management programs include Robocom WMS, Wireless Warehouse in a Box, and Epicore WMS. These software packages can help your warehouse manager take care of tasks associated with inventory tracking, workflow management, shipping logistics and all other areas that can be improved to help your business reach peak efficiency and productivity.

Another inventory tool you should employ in your warehouse is a barcode system. Keep in mind that many of the software packages listed above provide barcode scanning abilities, but if you decide to use a different system, you should consider adding the features provided through those systems to the warehouse management software you choose.

Productive and Reliable Warehouse Employees

Hiring the right employees plays a crucial role in preventing issues with your inventory systems. If you operate a warehouse, your warehouse manager should be the point-person for all inventory operations, and you want someone who is trustworthy and reliable. The right candidate should have the ability to pay close attention to detail, effective leadership skills, and an ability to keep calm when things do go wrong. If you have yet to hire a warehouse manager, you can use these criteria to screen potential candidates and select the right person for your small business needs.

Even if you do not have a warehouse, hiring the right staff goes a long way toward protecting your inventory and protecting your small business. In fact, not hiring staff when you need additional help can actually lead to costly inventory mistakes and can cause you to lose out on business, so make this a top priority if you’re struggling with operations and daily responsibilities. You can use online job boards, social media, and existing business connections to find dependable employees to handle your inventory.

Transparent and Effective Customer Service Standards

With the right inventory systems, tools, and employees, you may be able to avoid some of the most common inventory mishaps, like sending out the wrong product or over-ordering warehouse inventory. That can save your small business thousands of dollars in profits and losses, but you also have to accept the reality that inventory mistakes will and do happen to even the most successful corporations and businesses. So, while improving your inventory processes and operations should be a priority, you should also prepare yourself to weather these mistakes by offering excellent customer service at all times. Customers will be more willing to forgive inventory or shipping mistakes if they feel valued by your business, and will especially appreciate you taking the time to own up to and fix mistakes that impact them. Admitting mistakes and learning from them should be an essential part of any successful business.

Dealing with inventory slip-ups is never fun when you are a small business owner. You can always put measures in place to prevent those mistakes before they happen, but issues are still bound to come up for your small business. So, in addition to overhauling your inventory management processes and warehouse operations, also consider making sure that your customer service model is up to par. That way you can handle any mistakes that do happen.


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by Markus Lansky // Marcus Lansky was born with a spinal condition so severe that his parents were told he would never walk. He couldn't have learned to walk without the tremendous support and guidance from his family, friends, and medical team. He created his site, Abilitator, as a way to reach out to those who are disabled and show them that becoming an entrepreneur is a goal they too can achieve.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.