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Whether it’s during the pandemic or back in, let’s say, calmer times, the right inventory count could make or break a warehouse.

Inventory counts are a major part of any warehouse operation, as they can help keep orders accurate, help you identify potential problems or shortages, and give you a better idea of what your most popular and important items are.

While there’s a number of methods for counting inventory and tracking items as needed, one of the most popular, especially in these times of heightened demand for warehousing and ecommerce, is cycle counting.

 

Cycle Counting Defined

Cycle counting is a method of tracking inventory that involves counting a small subset of inventory, in a specific location, at the same designated time. A lot of warehouses in these days of fast shipping and ecommerce rely on cycle counting to help keep track of inventory, as cycle counting tends to be much less disruptive on daily operations. By limiting the counts to a specific area of the warehouse at a specific time, it allows work to still be completed even while the count is going on, and requires less overall effort than a full-scale inventory count.

This is doubly advantageous in times such as these, when warehouses are pushed to their limits and orders are at an all-time high due to the realities of the pandemic and its effect on commerce. However, whether due to worker confusion, poor warehouse layout, or other issues, cycle counting can run into a number of obstacles along the way.

 

Cycle Counting Best Practices

By implementing a few best practices for your cycle counts, you can better understand potential issues and get out in front of them:

  • Update inventory records before the counting starts: One of the most common causes of counting discrepancies is when the inventory records haven’t been updated to match current on-hand records. Whatever your inventory tracking methods are, make sure they’re updated and accurate before you perform cycle counts to reduce the risk of errors.
  • Focus on the most important goods first: Cycle counting is most effective when used to check your A stock, the items you sell through most often and encounter the most demand for. Use cycle counting to focus on your most popular goods (ideally, the ones placed in their own wire shelves or pallet racking for easier access) and leave the less-popular goods for the longer inventory checks.
  • Weigh smaller goods when needed: If your warehouse deals in smaller goods like electronic components, nuts & bolts, or anything else that needs to be kept in industrial storage bins, it might be easier to weigh them than try to count each one individually.
  • Optimize your locations: Cycle counting, for all of the convenience it offers, can still be a fairly involved process, and any clutter in the part of the warehouse it takes place in can cause a lot of confusion. Make sure to keep your warehouse shelving as organized and optimized as possible, focusing on the priority items that get counted most often, to avoid any potential confusion or loss of items.

 

By keeping a close eye on your inventory and overall warehouse organization, you can make your cycle counts more effective than ever before.

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