In part 1 of this two-part series on tips for preparing for a successful inventory I touched on the importance of meeting with an Inventory Team Leader prior to your store inventory date. This is the time to make sure questions about the inventory process are answered; both parties share their expectations of the other for breaks, package checks, the order of how things will be inventoried and what the store needs to do to prep the merchandise and departments. A successful inventory requires the store and the inventory crew to act as a single team. I also discussed briefly how a store with a Checkpoint security system benefits not only from how it can stop shoplifting during the year but the night of inventory it can prevent employee and vendor theft. If a dishonest inventory crew member or a store employee tries to exit with concealed merchandise protected by Checkpoint tags, an electronic article surveillance antenna will detect the tags and the alarm will activate. Yes, I have seen it work on inventory nights.
If you missed part 1, a quick review of what a Checkpoint security system is and how it operates is in order. A Checkpoint system includes everything from electronic article surveillance (EAS) antennas positioned at entrance/exit doors, hardware at checkout counters that deactivates soft Checkpoint tags and detachment tools to remove hard Checkpoint tags. The tags are designed to set off the EAS antennas when the protected merchandise is carried too close to the doors. Most theft can be deterred just by protecting merchandise and when a thief does attempt to steal, the alarm activation alerts store staff to respond and recover items or the would be shoplifter drops the items. When you stop shoplifting with a Checkpoint system during the course of the year inventory results improve and add profit to the store.
Doing all you can to prevent employee theft and stop shoplifting is crucial to good stock shortage results but once you hit inventory time, it is a matter of doing all you can to ensure you get an accurate count. Whether the store is using an outside inventory company or using their own employees, there are preparations that can increase the likelihood you will get a more accurate count:
• Use prep time to ensure the Checkpoint Security system is working and leave time to have a service call placed if necessary.
• Clothes on tables should be turned so the barcode faces out, it makes each piece easier to scan for the inventory crew and means there will be less straightening to do later.
• Inventory teams don’t straighten after counting so having hang tags easy to get to creates less of a mess. I mentioned clothing above, but don’t forget bath towels and wash clothes also.
• Make sure all merchandise on a peghook is the same SKU. Though each item should be scanned, many times during inventory the first item is scanned and the inventory team member keys in the quantity of items on the peg, regardless of whether there are different SKU’s.
• Use prep time to ensure everything has a scannable barcode and if items are missing Checkpoint tags, this is the perfect time to catch it and fix it.
• Does your store have non-working displays? If so, be sure these are marked with DNI (Do Not Inventory) tags.
• Make sure working model displays taken from store inventory are counted.
• If you sell food, it would be beneficial to check for dates as your team preps and also look for cans with loose labels and tape the labels or have a cart set aside for merchandise you will manually count or do a financial inventory sheet on.
• Stores selling food should also ask the vendors to help prepare by giving store credits for merchandise that isn’t selling and take it out of the building. It will help move product and tidy up stockroom space.
• If the store sells jewelry, keeping name brands together by price point can make auditing easier to determine where a counting error may have occurred.
• AUDIT! I can’t stress enough the importance of auditing behind the inventory counters. Whether you are using an outside agency or your own employees. When a counter is identified who continually makes errors, it should already be agreed with the inventory leader that counter will be removed from the store.
• If people leave the building for breaks, have a manager or security monitor the doors in case the Checkpoint security system alarms.Following these tips can help you enjoy a smooth inventory night and experience more accurate results.
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