Managing inventory means finding a balance between overstocking and shortages—both can impact your profitability and customer satisfaction. So, here are some ideas to help small business owners in getting stock management right.
Reflect on the past to forecast the future
Remember those beach umbrellas or bamboo sporks that were a summer hit? Past sales data allows you to identify seasonal favourites and make informed choices. By keeping an eye on trends and economic indicators, you can predict what your customers might need in different seasons.
Manage your stock and inventory the smart way
Using software to manage your stock and inventory can be like having a year-round assistant. The right tool tells you exactly when to reorder stock and identifies which things are becoming the hot favourites. It will help you track stock levels, reorder efficiently, and understand your inventory's performance across different seasons. If you don't have a system to do this, look for something that will also sync with your other systems to support smooth processes.
One of the most efficient and cost-friendly inventory approaches is known as 'Just-In-Time'. Imagine Just-In-Time as ordering exactly the right amount of ice cream to avoid it melting before it sells. It requires good timing and trust in your suppliers, ensuring you're never over or under-stocked. You'll reduce the capital tied up in stock and its storage while avoiding being left with a surplus that needs to be sold off cheaply.
The guidance of an experienced Business Mentor can be invaluable. They can help you explore how to refine your Just-In-Time strategy so it aligns with market trends and your business goals.
Business Mentors can draw on their own careers to help you find the solutions that fit your specific situation. Even if they don't share your industry, they'll be a reliable sounding board and are skilled in asking the right questions to prompt your thinking.
Diversifying suppliers means more variety and backup options. It ensures you're not left in a lurch if one supplier faces issues.
Keep communicating with your customers and suppliers
Good communication boosts business success, including inventory management. By staying in touch, listening and keeping people informed, you'll prevent many issues. This is especially the case for shipment delays in busy seasons.
Similarly, have a friendly return policy and a designated space in your inventory for returned items.
And you'll find that customers are generally happier when you’re upfront, rather than simply hope they won't notice issues. See our blog on customer service excellence for some compelling stats on this.
Engaging your customers can help you spot rising trends. For instance, seasonal promotions and pre-orders can give you a glimpse into customer interests, helping you plan your inventory more effectively.
By thinking about your system, considering your sales data, and keeping communications channels open, you can navigate stock control with ease and confidence throughout the year. It's all about striking the right balance by making the most of your past sales information, smart inventory practices, and engaging with your clients and suppliers.
Ready to tighten up your inventory strategy? A Business Mentor could be the key. Finding your mentor match will unlock seasoned insights and strategic foresight to keep your stock balanced and your business thriving. Don't navigate the complexities alone—partner with a Mentor. Here's your business success, growth, and the perfect amount of inventory!