Building Your Business Inventory

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If you run or want to start a business that sells wares, one of the first things you’ll want to do is establish your inventory.

If you run or want to start a business that sells wares, one of the first things you’ll want to do is establish your inventory. Developing an inventory strategy is essential. Your inventory strategy is your day-to-day plan for handling the ordering, processing, and maintaining of items. After you decide what products you want to sell, you will want to have an idea of how much of each item you need, where you should store it, and how you want to get it supplied.

Curate

Make sure you’re specific about the goods you want to provide. If you’re a small or local business, it will behoove you to research what your target market needs. Call up local services and ask them what kinds of products they need, and make sure you keep those in stock. For instance, if you want to sell cleaning supplies, make sure you call your top local janitorial service to get an idea of the products they use. If you carry those specific products, local services will be more likely to buy from you.

Find a vendor

You’ll want to establish a great relationship with one or more vendors. With your vendor, set up a shipment timetable that includes order-to-delivery time and return policies. You might only use one supplier or vendor, but you could also diversify. One option for securing inventory, especially for smaller-scale businesses, is to buy liquidation items. For instance, you can buy high-quality overstock, returned, or refurbished items in bulk from companies such as Walmart. If you go this route, you’ll want to check daily to see what’s available, but it can be a great way for small businesses to gain some good inventory.

Inventory management

Of course, just as important as acquiring inventory is managing it. You’ll probably want to invest in inventory management software. There are some great programs out there specifically designed for small businesses. This software will analyze data to help assess when a product will sell out, how much it’s costing to store products that aren’t selling, and when you should restock the products that are top-sellers. Doing this manually with spreadsheets takes a ton of time and has a lot of possibility for error. Using software will help you use your time more efficiently, so you can focus on the part of the business you really love: making your customers happy.

Warehouse

You’ll want to store your wares in a safe location. If you run a tiny business from your home, you could sacrifice your garage. If your business is a bit larger, you may want to invest in a storage unit, and even larger business will turn their eyes to a warehouse. Find a warehouse that fits your business’ size. This is probably where you will also receive your wares. Be sure you know the appropriate storage requirements for your products. Most products need to be stored in a cool and dry environment, but some products, like sensitive electronics or beauty products, may require even more strict storage specifications. You’re not going to store an equal amount of each product, by the way. The stats are that you only sell 20 percent of products 80 percent of the time; basically, your revenue is going to come from the sale of just a few, top-selling, items. This may change by season. It’s probably a good idea to have these on hand, or, at least, keep these closer to you. The longer you keep your business, and evaluate your data, the more clearly you’ll suss out what these products are.

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