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Inventory management: the backbone of every successful warehouse, and occasionally the bane of every warehouse manager’s existence.

The constant flow of products in and out of the average warehouse combined with the frequent changes in equipment and operating procedure means that keeping up with inventory can be a full-time job in and of itself, no matter how small your inventory or how limited your product range.

But no matter what you stock or how you stock it, there’s a few steps that can be used in any given warehouse setup that can help you streamline your inventory management, or at least give you a good place to start from. Check out these three steps to form the backbone of any good warehouse inventory management strategy:

● Input:

The input stage is the tracking of items as they arrive. This should be considered separate from tracking and receiving shipment, as those items need to be counted outside of the current inventory until they’re fully processed and scanned in. Develop an incoming product system that tracks items by SKU and, if you’ve got the resources, creates a label for directed putaway to help you save time when it comes to the storage step. If your item volume is low enough you can also use a barcode solution on both your warehouse storage and the item itself for easier location tracking so long as you can create barcode and location tracking for the different storage locations.

● Storage:

Arguably the easiest part, yet the most essential, tracking the proper storage of each item is as crucial to business operations as knowing how many of each item you have on hand. Use this step to track what shelves and pallet racks you keep everything on, how many of each item are in each area, and how many more you can reasonably store before the system falls apart.

● Output:

As you can guess by the name, the output stage is the opposite of the input stage even if it requires many of the same strategies. On sale (or whenever the item needs to be shipped back out), start tracking things like the remaining quantity of items, date and time of sale, and frequency between sales. This information can help you build out business intelligence such as rate of sale for certain items, if certain items are more prone to damage in storage, how much inventory space is not being used or billed for, and more.

These steps can be modified as needed depending on various factors of your business, but these three steps can form the cornerstone of any inventory management system and can be adapted very easily and quickly to meet the needs of your business.

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