In a utopia, no one would worry about the possibility of inventory being stolen or destroyed. But unfortunately, it’s a very large reality for small businesses. It can be difficult to tell if inventory shrinks due to waste, breakage, or theft, but it’s possible to distinguish the reasoning behind loss.
The first thing on your list should be to make sure that your staff knows and is required to record all waste and breakage and report such to their supervisor. The supervisor should keep a daily record of waste and breakage and deduct it from inventory on a weekly or daily basis.
After you’ve identified waste and breakage, most of the loss is probably due to theft. There are a few inventory-managing techniques you can use to help keep an eye on your inventory.
1. If you have a physical store, you’ll want to implement measures to prevent shoplifting. If you figure out that shoplifting is a problem for your business, install security cameras and train your employees about how to recognize and prevent loss. Even if you don’t have a physical store, you’ll still want to use cameras in storage facilities so that you know who is around the inventory at all times.
2. Only allow extremely well trained and very trusted employees to edit data in your inventory management lists or software. It’s very, very easy for an employee to change a few numbers in the inventory software so that their supervisor never realizes products are gone. Many software systems require a unique login for each user; therefore, updates to inventory can be tracked by each specific user who logs in. Do your best to make sure that employees do not ever share user ID or passwords with each other. If all else fails, keep a written document for inventory records to check for any discrepancies.
3. Similarly, it’s a great idea to password protect your entire inventory tracking software. You should choose to only give the password to specific and trusted employees who deal directly with your inventory. Make sure that the user ID and password is unique to each and every individual that has access.
4. Store your inventory in a very secure place. This may seem obvious, but you should still focus on the physical location of your inventory. You should also try to set up a protocol with your employees to make sure that doors are always locked and alarms are always set whether someone is with the inventory. Only allow very specific employees access to the most expensive inventory items. Then they are held accountable for those specific items. You can often utilize a specific spot (even a safe) within your warehouse for the most expensive and important inventory items.
5. Dealing with insurance claims to replace destroyed/stolen possessions is never fun, but insurance claims need a record of what is rightfully yours. Create a complete home inventory checklist and take pictures of everything about your items – serial numbers, receipts, manufacturer’s tags, and the items themselves. Take pictures of all of your items, especially anything of serious monetary value like jewelry or electronics. As you’re taking pictures, write down important info like purchase costs, dates, and identifying features. Store these pictures in a safe and secure place such as a password-protected Dropbox account. Another way to help record inventory is to use a home inventory app like Encircle or Nest Egg. Both allow you to take pictures of, store, and label all of your inventory with details. You can also sync your information across different devices and export data as PDFs. Nest Egg also offers warranty and expiration tracking. While apps can help you monitor and protect possessions, it doesn’t hurt to take precautions before leaving your home. One great idea to note: Do not broadcast your travel dates on social media. Consider turning off your location status when you post to your social networks during a trip.
Be active when it comes to protecting your inventory. Safe belongings equal secure belongings. Inventory theft can occur internally or externally, so ensure that you have the best policies and devices to keep as much inventory safe.