Clothing store inventory management is probably not one of the activities that make you rush to start each business day. Yet without a thorough understanding of the stock on hand, a clothing store will be challenged to keep its customers happy and its cash registers ringing.
Coming to the rescue of clothing store managers struggling to track their inventory are new products and services that promise to do much of the heavy lifting entailed in recording and updating their inventory numbers. As the Houston Chronicle points out, the least-efficient method of managing a clothing store’s inventory is also the oldest: the paper-and-pencil approach. Manual inventory tracking is not only time-consuming, but it’s also the least accurate method.
Spreadsheets were the first form of digital inventory tracking, and they remain popular with many clothing stores and other small retail outlets. However, they don’t save managers much time over the paper-and-pencil approach and are nearly as susceptible to errors as manual counts are.
The shortcomings of traditional inventory tracking for clothing stores has increased interest in inventory applications for smartphones and other internet-connected devices. Clothing store inventory management apps help you keep within your budget, avoid product shortages, maximize your storage space, and most importantly, keep your customers happy.
What to Look for in a Clothing Store Inventory Management App
Inventory management automation begins by creating an up-to-date list of every product your store offers, including a scannable UPC barcode and complete descriptions of each item, such as sizes, styles, and colors. The list will be accessible via a mobile, integrated point-of-sale system that allows the inventory to be updated automatically as store clerks ring up sales and accept returns.
By putting inventory management in the hands of employees you’re able to keep them involved directly in ensuring the inventory is as current and accurate as possible. AZCentral explains that the shelves in your stockroom should be as well organized as the shelves on your sales floor, including clear labels to reduce misplaced items and improve the shopping experience for customers.
Here are other tips for efficient management of a clothing store’s inventory:
- Create a delivery schedule: Organize the process of receiving merchandise deliveries; manually confirm that the shipment manifest matches the products you receive prior to updating your inventory; and report any discrepancies, returns, or refunds promptly to your suppliers.
- Use loss-prevention tags: These devices are in the form of stickers or ink tags that must be deactivated by store employees to prevent the devices from activating sensors as the products leave the store. Balance the benefits of losing specific merchandise with the burden to employees of extra handling of each item as customers check out.
- Conduct inventory counts: While integrated POS systems automate many inventory management operations, clothing stores still need to count their inventory manually on a regular basis to prevent discrepancies. Print the inventory list from the POS system and compare it with the manual count of each item by style currently on the sales floor and in the stockroom. If necessary, update the POS system with the accurate manual count.
What to Look for in a Clothing Store Inventory Management App
The inventory management features clothing retailers require answer these basic business questions:
- How much of each item is in stock? How much is on order? How much has sold in the last day/week/month?
- Which items need to be reordered? How many of each item must be ordered? When does the order need to be placed? When will the merchandise be received?
- Which items are overstocked? Which spend the most and least time on the shelf? Which items continually run short?
- Which items are my top sellers? Which are my worst? Which should I discontinue?
- Do I have more inventory storage space than I need? Or do I have too little storage space?
To maximize your inventory capacity, clothing stores need a POS system that helps them optimize their storage space by identifying the items that are moving fastest off the shelves and those that are collecting dust. The POS system also makes it easy for stores to identify how much is being lost due to stolen or misplaced items, or “retail shrinkage.” Integrating inventory management with your POS system reduces administrative errors, such as miscounting stock, and prevents hot-selling items from being out of stock.
Last but not least, inventory management enhances a clothing store’s overall supply chain management by helping you forecast price changes, anticipate delivery problems, and account for other variables.
Approaches to Clothing Store Inventory Management
These are among the most popular techniques for retail inventory management:
- Physical inventory audit: An automated inventory management system minimizes the need to perform a tedious manual count of a clothing store’s inventory, but at least quarterly and preferably monthly conduct a physical inventory check to ensure you’re not wasting your budget.
- Spot check: Select a handful of items from your inventory to count manually so you can verify the accuracy of your POS system’s inventory numbers. If you find a discrepancy, expand your spot check by a few more items to ensure they are isolated errors.
- FIFO and LIFO: The standard first in, first out inventory method ensures the oldest stock on hand is the first to be sold to prevent items from becoming “stale” on the shelf. Conversely, the last in, first out approach moves the newest inventory items out for sale first and older items last. LIFO typically applies to trendy and hot-selling items, while old standbys such as denim jeans may be sold FIFO.
The ideal for clothing stores is an inventory management system that gives them a real-time look at their current product levels — on the sales floor and in the stockroom. The system updates automatically as sales, returns, and new shipments are recorded, and it syncs inventory with other finance and business processes to provide a running snapshot of your bottom line. Adopting a mobile POS system puts inventory management in the palm of each employee’s hands.
Learn more about how the talech POS system provides small and midsize retailers with the inventory-management features that will help optimize all their business processes, from supply chain management to customer relations. We work with you to determine the best ways to meet the needs of your customers and employees so your business can thrive. We take the time to learn your business so we can balance your specific needs with your budget and comfort level in a custom POS system implementation. The result is a valued investment that will pay for itself in short order. Reach out to us today to sign up for a free demo and learn more about how talech can be your valued partner in the POS world.
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