Ssssh did I hear that dreaded word?…. Time for the yearly stocktake?

Will 2018 be the year to end that yearly thorn in your side – the dreaded stocktake !

Does your yearly stocktake results in misplaced stock – out of date stock – too much stock – not enough stock and one big headache?

As 2018 begins many companies will have just undertaken the toughest job of the year or will be in the process of planning their annual stocktake. While some businesses will conduct regular cycle counts to keep on top of stock quantities, the annual stocktake is a tradition that is still carried out to provide companies with the key figures needed to complete vital Year-End stock valuations and financial statements.

As a result, companies tend to take an all-hands-on-deck approach to their annual stocktake to ensure they get the task completed in the fastest time possible, which can result in the business being closed or working late/ weekends so that all staff can work solely on counting their stock.

However most companies will tell you, annual stocktakes will rarely go smoothly and often turn out to be a chaotic affair. Staff will travel from bin to bin manually counting items to check they match up with held figures, often finding far more discrepancies than they should and counting bins that have already been counted by one of their colleagues.

Stock accuracy is a challenge for most businesses.

A lot of time is then wasted tracking down “lost” stock items, which are usually found either hiding in amongst the wrong stock where they shouldn’t be or in corners of the warehouse that staff don’t touch throughout the year. On some occasions these lost items can even be found to be non-existent, simply a creation of inaccurate stock reporting.

What’s more, businesses stocktaking during usual working hours will find further complications such as stock miscounts can occur. This because when stocktaking during trading hours, stock will often be in the process of being picked or handled, resulting in the products not being in the bin locations staff expect at the time of stocktake. This leads to incorrect stock counts and stocktake adjustments that then result in further inconsistencies in stock holding, as well as a multitude of other issues.

By the time the annual stocktake has concluded with costs to the business totalled up from these issues being sustained, staff overtime being paid, specialist stocktaking services getting supplied and revenue ultimately getting lost from early closure or stock going missing, the result is one very expensive exercise.

However, there is a solution:-

A WMS System together with barcoding technology can make stocktaking a simpler process as locations and products can be quickly scanned using WiFi handheld terminals with stock levels recorded and verified by the system. Resulting in significant increases in the productivity, accuracy and efficiency of all your warehouse and stock management tasks.

The WMS Systems will work in “real time” which will exactly reflect the physical quantities sitting in the warehouse as well as having many comprehensive features for managing your inventory.

The accuracy of your inventory is the key to the integrity or your business.

Stocktaking is an integral part of the Clarus WMS application and can be delivered as a point solution to solve a specific problem or as part of a wider technology transformation of the warehousing operation supporting all functions of the including returns, goods in, picking, packing and shipping.

To try and support the big stocktake, business should look to a warehouse management system to help record the data in real time through the use of a handheld device or tablet.

By recording the data into the system directly, you are removing the need for someone to type the results of the paper check sheets into the system at a later date which is another weak link open to human error.

Once any adjustments have been made, the stock position can be updated in bulk back into the core system, such as Sage200 or SAP Business One, saving hours of manual entry, line by line, location by location.

Key processes to adopt during 2018 that will alleviate the pain of your next stocktake:

Cycle counting

More businesses are buying into the ‘little and often’ mentality which is a far less intrusive way of counting stock.

Cycle counting can be done by physical location, by product or even product attribute. Some of our food and drink clients will a count based on sell by date, counting stock which is within a given window in an attempt to minimise waste.

The idea of a cycle count is the warehouse management system will automatically (or allow a user to manually) select a range of products or locations to count as part of a standard working day.

Little and often counting will also quickly highlight worrying trends

This is often done toward the end of the day to avoid clashes with high volume picking activity. The results are fed back in real-time, any discrepancies can be rechecked quickly and small adjustments made having little or no impact to the overall performance of the business.

Little and often counting will also quickly highlight worrying trends, such as theft, which will almost certainly be missed when only counting annually.

Count back

Similar to cycle counting, this is done little and often, but is done mid-pick.

When a user arrives to a location to pick a number of items (typically less than a full pallet), the user can be prompted to count back the remaining items left in the location after the pick.

far less intrusive way of counting stock.

This is a great use of time while already at the location. It saves having to walk back to the location at a future date as part of a e.g. cycle count, which when multiplied by 1000’s of locations can saves many hours for warehouse teams.

Count back is also a great way to spot picking errors very early on. If the user is prompted to count back each time they pick, an incorrect count back could suggest that the user has taken either too many or not enough of the prior pick. Randomising this will keep pickers on their toes!

Catching a miss-pick at this stage will also save time at the packing / despatch bench. This will ultimately improve customer service and profitability by reducing the cost of correct errors.

Naturally, the time it takes to complete a stocktake will vary from business to business depending on the number of available employees, the size of the warehouse, and the volume of stock. That said, defining a clear process for how the stocktake will be carried out, and informing your staff of this, will keep the time scale as short as possible.

Stock taking should not involve shutting down for days or opening over weekends with weeks of cold sweats before and after the final numbers come back.

With the assistance of Clarus WMS software, businesses can also ensure that through regular checks and the use of barcode scanning technology, stock accuracy will always be kept to an exceptionally high level, helping year-end stocktakes to become a fast, low cost and, most importantly, stress free process.

Stock taking is an integral part of the ClarusWMS application and can be delivered as a point solution to solve a specific problem or as part of a wider technology transformation of the warehousing operation supporting all functions of the including returns, goods in, picking, packing and shipping.

About us:

Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.

Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.

ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.