Taking Your Inventory Live

by Nick on October 29, 2014

inventory

Inventory that is sitting there isn’t really just sitting there; it’s taking up space in addition to tasks and maintenance associated with keeping it in good shape. Your inventory represents a large pile of your money, and unless you want your money just sitting around, you have to do something to put that zombie inventory back to work. A live inventory and POS (point of sale system) will help you track your inventory and your sales to maximize your profits and ordering process.

What Inventory Really Costs

In both wholesale and retail, inventory related costs related to maintenance and storage can rival transportation as the largest logistics cost in your supply chain. While inventory is essential for companies to support their customer requirements, demand can be variable over the space of a season, or vendors can be unreliable, inventory and the overhead costs related to it are often an unacknowledged leak in the cash flow. Even within different industries such as pharmaceuticals, restaurants, retail, building materials, and wholesale or retail, excess inventory gets a bad rap when the real culprit is lack of information.

Inventory control or inventory management requires an information system recording real time ordering from vendors, receiving at your facility, sales to your customers, and (if applicable) shipping. What people rarely think of in regards to their inventory is the assorted costs of labor for inventory management including counting, warehousing, damage or expiration, and wages paid to maintain the inventory. The basic principle of inventory management, according to Logistics Management, is to minimize your expenditures, while ensuring a smooth flow of goods in your supply chain.

Going High-Tech without the High Price Tag

Yes there are a lot of companies out there that want to sell your barcoding system, software, and other bells and whistles. However, the technology is now widely available, and affordable for even small businesses. Even eCommerce companies like Shopify, or those who traditionally supplied such equipment to large retailers, can offer even the smallest stores and businesses richly featured information systems. By incorporating barcoding and point-of-sale technology, you will know what you have in stock, where it is, and be able to receive, shelve, pick, and ship all the items you have. Even a $1,000-range system will provide you with highly detailed up-to-date reports about stock levels, sales, and reorder times for all your items. Such a system will also integrate the storefront (if you have one) with the stockroom or warehouse, and your back office functions such as accounting.

The basic equipment that you will need is:

• Barcode label printer and a barcode scanner; these often come with barcoding software or you may purchase your own
• A tablet such as an iPad or an Android powered tablet, and a tablet stand; the equipment may be attached to a laptop or desktop computer

If you are integrating your barcoding system with your storefront you will also need the following equipment:

• A cash drawer
• A receipt printer – some of these can also scan, authorize, and endorse checks for deposit. Most states require that a receipt accompany any transaction.
• A credit card scanner linked to your merchant account, which will allow you to accept credit cards, debit cards, and EBT cards if applicable. These scanners can be a standalone machine, or attached to your computer or tablet via the USB port, or the headphone jack.

Spending Money to Make Money

If all of this sounds like a terrible amount of work and money, you might want to know that the Houston Chronicle says that small businesses using modern information systems can also reduce shrinkage, or in some cases completely eliminate it. In addition, Microsoft notes that freeing personnel from the tasks associated with your zombie inventory means that they can devote their time and energy to other tasks such as sales and customer service. So when you think about taming your inventory, preventing or reducing shrinkage, and freeing your staff for more productive tasks, it is possible to realize increased profits without necessarily increasing sales.

The right barcoding and point-of-sale system for you depends upon your unique circumstances. There is no one size fits all. You might want to buy your own equipment or software, or purchase a system right out of the box, or even consult a professional firm that can help you train your staff in the use of the system. The ideal point-of-sale and inventory system should ideally grow with your business and therefore be scalable and flexible, while not being too complicated or elaborate for your staff to learn easily. In addition, putting in place inventory practices and policies for shipping, receiving, sales, ordering, and other concerns will ensure that the hard work put into implementing a live inventory system and point-of-sale doesn’t go for nothing. Practices and policies only work when they are consistently applied.

image © Depositphotos.com/monkeybusiness

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As a car owner, you are probably aware of the requirements under state law for insurance on your vehicle, and you may have a basic understanding of what that insurance covers. However, there are a few little-known facts you may not have been aware of that can actually save you money.

Tax Deductions

One little-known fact about auto insurance is that using your car for business entitles you to deduct auto insurance on your tax returns at the end of the year. You must deduct only the percentage of your insurance cost that equals the percentage you use your vehicle for business, however. For example, if you use your personal vehicle for business use 25 percent of the time over the year, you can deduct 25 percent of your auto insurance costs. Be sure to discuss this deduction with your tax advisor at the end of the year.

Occupation Discount

Some insurance companies offer discounts to those who work in certain professions. In most cases, these are professions that have been determined low-risk because statistics show they exercise less risky driving behaviors than those who perform other jobs. Professions that are often offered occupation discounts include:

• Engineers and Scientists
• Teachers and Professors
• First Responders
• Nurses
• Pilots
• Certified Public Accountants

Personal Items in Vehicle

Personal items left in a vehicle are not normally covered by automobile insurance. Instead, they are often covered by homeowner’s insurance. Items like GPS units, MP3 players and cellphones should be listed on your homeowner’s policy. Be sure to take a picture of the item and store it in a safe place should it be stolen from the vehicle.

Low-Risk Vehicle

Purchasing a vehicle that the insurance company determines is low-risk is another way to keep insurance premiums down. Surprisingly, low-risk vehicles are not necessarily determined by the size of the vehicle. Insurance companies lower premiums if the vehicle has less horsepower or is less likely to be stolen than others. According to Consumer Reports, the Ford F-250 pickup and the Cadillac Escalade had the highest theft rates between 2010 and 2012. The Jeep Compass and Toyota Sienna had the lowest theft rates, which may put them in the low-risk vehicle category.

These relatively unknown facts about auto insurance could help you save money and prevent problems in the future. Click here for more facts about auto insurance and information on how to save money on your insurance needs.

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