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How to Check Inventory: A Step-by-Step Guide

As a small business owner, you need to know how to check inventory in order to avoid stockouts and other issues. A manual inventory of your merchandise can help you keep track of what you have, and it can also give you an opportunity to clean, organize, and reorganize your store. Here’s a simple guide on how to check inventory.

Physical inventory count

Physical inventories involve a team member physically going through your retail store and the stockroom and writing down how many of each product you have. This can be done with paper or electronic means.

The purpose of a physical inventory count is to reconcile the stock data that a retailer has on paper with the actual inventory in the store. This process helps to ensure inventory accuracy and prevent loss.

A physical inventory count is a process where a retailer counts all of the physical merchandise in their store. This count is used to compare against the inventory records to see if there are any discrepancies.

Even if it’s something you’re not too keen on, taking an inventory count is something that all retailers must do. It’s especially important to keep a watchful eye on the stock you have on hand versus what is actually being sold.

10 Tips on How To Check Inventory

1. Taking a physical count of inventory? Consider cycle counting

If you’re looking for an efficient way to count your inventory, cycle counting may be the answer. This method can be done daily or weekly, and it doesn’t require you to close your store.

Phillip of Suits Cafe recommends using this method. “I owned a men’s clothing store, and I used to take daily inventory of my stock,” he says.

I would then put that information into the computer.” When taking a physical inventory count, consider cycle counting instead of counting everything all at once. This will help to ensure inventory accuracy and save time in the long run.


2. Stock Counting – Digitize the Counting Process

Nowadays, there are inventory scanners and other types of inventory counting technologies, e.g. mobile devices, that can make the process much easier and more accurate. By using these tools, you can minimize the chances of human error and get a more accurate count of your inventory.

This method of inventory management is highly inefficient and requires double entry. Not to mention, physically inventory counting is already a manual task. The last thing you need is to manually tally and record data.

If you use an inventory management system, you may want to check if it offers any features that automatically count your inventory. This can save you a lot of time and hassle.

Vend’s inventory counting capability is an easy way for retailers to keep track of their stock. With features like simultaneous stocktakes, retailers can use multiple devices to count inventory quickly and easily.

Other technologies that you might want to consider are:

Use inventory counting apps like Scannable to digitize the scanning and counting of your inventory.

3.Choose your counting team wisely

When conducting inventory counts, be sure to assign a mix of both seasoned and newer employees. This will ensure that all bases are covered and that no details are overlooked. Having a group of fresh eyes can be especially beneficial in spotting small issues.

Another option you have is hiring a third-party company to do the counting procedure for you. This can be helpful if you don’t have the in house expertise and resources to do it yourself.

4. For complete physical inventory count, plan it in advance

The timing of your inventory count is crucial to ensuring the accuracy of your data. Make sure to schedule your counts well in advance, and plan for any potential disruptions.

When is the physical inventory count usually done?

How often you should perform a full count of your merchandise depends on how many items you have in stock. If your stock fluctuates a lot, then it might be a good idea to do a physical count more frequently. However, if your stocks are stable, then doing them less frequently might make more sense.

You’ll need to decide when exactly your annual stocktake will take place, and you’ll need to let your employees know in advance.

Ideally, it is best to schedule an inventory count outside of normal business hours to avoid disrupting store operations. If this is not possible, be sure to give customers advanced notice so they are aware of the temporary closure.

If you need to close the shop for a day or two, make sure to let your regular customers know about it.

5. Communicate

If you’re doing a complete inventory count, you ought to let the right people know ahead of time.

It is important to communicate with your team in advance when you will be conducting inventory count and at which locations. This way, they can prepare products and minimize stock movements on the day of the count.

Regular communication is key to ensuring a smooth stock taking experience. By sending reminders and updates, you can help keep everyone on track and avoid any potential disruptions.

6. Map your retail store

Draw up a map of your store that shows the location of your products. This will help you determine the best placement for each item.

This will give you a clear overview of the store which will make it easier to assign people to each section. This way, you can determine the best method for counting products (e.g. where to start counting and how to move around the store).

Your map can also serve as an effective checklist when counting products. By marking off sections that have already been counted, you can more easily gauge your progress.

7. Label the shelves and boxes

This will help you keep track of what you’ve counted and what you haven’t. If you’re doing a physical count of your inventory, be sure to label the boxes or shelves in your stockroom if the products in them aren’t visible. This will help you keep track of what you’ve counted and what you haven’t.

When it’s time to do a count, having all of your inventory items marked and in a designated area is important. This will make it much easier for you to accurately keep track of all of your stock.

8. Consider the inventory items that are in limbo

When doing your stocktake, make sure you figure out how to deal with items that haven’t been delivered yet, as well as items that have been sent back so that you avoid any confusion later.

8. Orient your team

Make sure your staff is aware of the steps you took to plan the event. Show them the map you created and explain where people are assigned.

If you’ve rearranged any items on your desk, take a quick picture of your before and after and share it with your friends. Show your friends the before and after pictures of your desk if you’ve made any changes.

Walk through your inventory with your employees so they can familiarize themselves with any changes. This will make it much easier for you to keep track of and count your merchandise.

9. Organize food and drinks for your team

A few pizzas, some soda, and plenty of water will keep them energized and alert while they manually go through your inventory. It’s a time-consuming task, so you want to keep them focused.

Providing food and water helps keep them healthy.

Post-count: keep your inventory in check

Once you’ve finished counting the items in your warehouse, take immediate actions to improve the accuracy of your inventory.

Here’s the way:

If you find any discrepancies, make sure to update your inventory records accordingly.

Make sure to do your inventory checks and audits as soon as possible so that the information is still fresh in your mind.

Keeping track of your inventory is incredibly important. Make sure you’re checking up on it regularly so that you can make any necessary changes.

This task is simple if your POS or retail management system can generate inventory reports and has retail analytics capabilities. Just create the necessary inventory reports and examine the data to find ways to improve your business.


Now you know how to check inventory. Remember, after taking a physical inventory count, it’s important to keep track of your inventory levels on a regular basis. This will help you avoid stock outs and other issues. You can do this by labeling boxes and shelves, orienting your staff, and preparing food and drinks for your staff ahead of time.