By Marcus Lansky
Has your small business recently made a huge inventory mistake? Dealing with these sorts of oversights can be stressful for small business owners, especially when those errors directly impact customers. Mistakes can happen to any business — whether great or small — so the best solution is to find simple ways to remedy inventory mistakes and perhaps even prevent them in. To help you out, here are a few suggestions for handling common inventory blunders.
Managing Inventory by Hand
Whether you are running your business alone or working with a staff, relying on old-fashioned methods to manage your inventory can lead to some pretty serious mistakes. That’s why so many small businesses and corporations utilize bar codes to minimize the risk for costly inventory mistakes. Bar codes allow business owners and warehouse managers to maintain more accurate records of inventory transactions, put an end to mistakes caused by manual processes around data entry, and reduce the number of errors due to paper-based inventory management processes. Using more advanced inventory tracking methods such as bar codes can also make your reporting and documenting processes much more efficient.
Ordering Too Much Inventory
As business begins to boom, you may start worrying about running out of your most popular products, which, of course, can lead you to order more inventory. While having enough inventory on hand to satisfy demand can be crucial to the continued success of your small business, it’s also crucial for you to understand how over-ordering inventory can impact your bottom line. Also known as an inventory overrun, this costly inventory mistake can be caused by manufacturing miscalculations or excessive ordering. Either can force you to sell those excess products for less of a profit or pay for extra storage until you sell the excess.
Ordering Too Little Inventory
Being overrun by inventory can lead to profit losses and extra costs for your small business, but running out of products can also lead to potential issues. Knowing how to handle these inventory shortages can preserve relationships with customers and also preserve profits. Inventory or product is not always a bad thing, especially when those shortages are due to high demand from your customers. The key to turning that demand into profits for your business is to effectively handle shortages in a way that makes affected customers feel valued. Go above and beyond by letting customers know where they can purchase the same product if their need is urgent but also be sure to reach out to customers whenever products are back in stock.
Making Shipping Mistakes
Shipping or fulfillment mistakes can also be costly and embarrassing for small business owners to deal with, especially if those same mistakes happen repeatedly. Shipping the wrong products to a customer or sending a shipment to the wrong address, or making any other error when it comes to order fulfillment can break down the trust that customers place in your small business. So, while you should have customer service practices in place to resolve these inventory issues, your focus should be on preventing them in the first place. You can accomplish this by carefully laying out your inventory and fulfillment processes and training staff on enhanced processes.
Failing to Learn from Mistakes
When you make an inventory blunder, it’s only natural to feel a sense of shame and embarrassment. To reduce the amount of anxiety you feel around inventory mistakes, it’s important to keep in mind that business errors can provide business opportunities. When you make a painful mistake, you are much more likely to work toward finding inventory management solutions that will prevent future mistakes. You can also use these moments as opportunities to connect with your customers and turn them into loyal patrons. The key to doing so is to own up to mistakes immediately and to over-deliver on customer service and solutions.
Inventory mistakes can be embarrassing, but they don’t have to spell and end for your small business. So, try not to get bogged down in stress and shame, so that you can focus on finding fast solutions and preventing future inventory mishaps.
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