It seems like only a few months ago when I was helping out with inventory at the store I currently work for! Having nearly 26 years of retail and inventory experience to draw from, I frequently help identify potential problem areas and provide suggestions to my current store manager to try to make the inventory process easier and more accurate. Right now I work for an office supply store but I have experience in department stores and big box retail stores as well. There are tips and strategies I have incorporated over the years that can be useful in preparing for inventory in almost any situation. For example, all stores I have worked for have used Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) tags or EAS labels to stop shoplifting. Prep time is the time to ensure all merchandise has the appropriate Checkpoint security tags on them whether it is clothing, electronics, toys or a combination of those products your store sells. Using the time leading up to inventory to apply EAS labels and Checkpoint security tags not only helps to stop shoplifting later on, it helps to prevent theft by inventory counters or your own staff on inventory night.
I tend to forget that not all of the readers are familiar with electronic article surveillance or how Checkpoint security tags or EAS labels work or stop shoplifting. Let me give a brief explanation. Electronic article surveillance uses radio frequency emitting tags and radio frequency receiver antennas to create an alarm system. When an EAS label (usually a soft-style tag) or Checkpoint security tags (which can be a hard tag or soft label) is carried into the receiving range of an electronic article surveillance antenna, an alarm in the antenna is activated. Usually this is a loud, audible alarm accompanied by flashing LED lights. The alarm alerts employees and they can respond and conduct receipt checks and recover unpaid merchandise. Often simply having the EAS labels on merchandise is enough to deter a thief from stealing but when it isn’t, the antenna alarm and employee response does result in preventing merchandise from being stolen.
Here are some other things to watch for that can make your inventory process easier or more accurate. Again, these are lessons I have learned over the many years I have in preparing stores for inventory:
• When prepping in a stockroom, watch out for items that may be multiple items in a package. An example would be socks. Some socks are sold as multiple pairs in a package, perhaps a package of 10 socks for $14. Other packages are shipped with multiple socks that are intended to be separated as individual units. Not catching this can result in counting a package of 10 socks intended to be sold individually as 1 unit. The store “loses” 9 pair of socks. Make sure packages are properly marked by how many units are in them OR separate out the package.
• Boxes of batteries may be shipped to a store and although a box may contain 20 individual packages, I have seen the shipping box counted as 1 unit. Had I not caught the error, due to poor prep or an inventory counter error, we would have “lost” 19 packages of batteries.
• Look for merchandise that gets stocked on the floor in a manner that can confuse an inventory counter. An example of this we have to watch for at an office supply store is 3-ring binders. They are often stocked so that two are inserted into each other to allow more merchandise to be on the floor. The issue at inventory time is it can look like one selling unit. Be sure to show this to your inventory representative during a pre-inventory walk-through so they can make a note of it for their plans. On inventory night audit this area well.
• Train employees to look for and report mis-ticketed items shipped to the store from a warehouse. In one store I worked for we called these mis-picks. This should be a year round practice that can significantly hurt inventory. Recently I found a chair shipped to the store with the wrong SKU number. This threw off our counts and impacted replenishment and would have impacted inventory had I not noticed the error and reported it so management could correct the counts.
These are just a few tips that can make a BIG impact on inventory. Stop shoplifting and operational shortage and see how profitable your store can be!
Get more information on Checkpoint Security Tags, contact us or call 1.770.426.0547 today.