Let’s Get Physical!
“No Pain, No Gain” doesn’t just apply to weight-lifting that builds muscle mass; it applies to inventory control that pumps up your bottom line. That’s because one of the most important parts of inventory management for c-stores also happens to be one of the most painful: performing a physical inventory!
By performing a physical inventory you can identify and reconcile the difference between what your c-store software tells you is in stock and what you really have in stock. This difference is called inventory shrink. Unfortunately, there is no such corollary as inventory expand. Extra candy bars won’t suddenly materialize on your shelf, but they sure can disappear.
Here are some tips to help you stop shrink by getting locked into a smooth-flowing physical inventory routine:
- Be timely and consistent.
In a perfect world, a physical inventory of the entire store should occur every month. The sooner you find a discrepancy, the sooner you can fix it.
- Perform perpetual inventory.
Instead of performing the entire inventory process at once, do a handful of departments one week, another bunch the next week, and so on. This is called perpetual inventory, a way to break up the task into manageable chunks while maintaining your desired frequency.
- Isolate and track critical inventory.
Big ticket, critical inventory items, like lottery tickets and cigarettes, should be counted by cashiers at the beginning of every shift. This will alert you quickly to potential problems. Good c-store software can assist you in this goal.
- Utilize third-party vendors.
Hiring a third party to take your physical inventory often makes great business sense. They can be efficient and economical, while posing less potential for conflict of interest than an employee. You could always do it yourself, it’s your choice, but you’re already overworked as it is!
Like a workout routine, physical inventory is toughest and easiest to neglect when you first get started. But as you improve efficiency and start seeing results, you’ll want to do it again and again.
Now what do you think looks better—your new washboard abs or that bulging bottom line?