The stockroom is the essential driving force of any retail business, whether it’s the machine that drives your shop front or the hub of your ecommerce operations. Without your merchandise, you wouldn’t have a business and the same goes for your stockroom. Unfortunately, it can also be easy to mismanage and many aren’t sure how to organise a stockroom.
With merchandise coming and going all the time plus various people with different management methods using the stockroom, it can quickly get out of hand. Without the right system in place, you may find yourself bursting at the seams with too much inventory or wasting time looking for missing and disorganised stock.
Creating a stockroom space that is organised and easy to navigate is not only much nicer to work in, but it can also have a significant and very real impact on your business. You might be surprised by how much money you save or even how much more you can sell when you’re running a tight ship behind the scenes.
Whether you’re just starting out and looking to organise your very first stock room or you’re a retail veteran that’s been struggling with their growing inventory, here’s our brief guide to help you organise your stockroom.
Make sure you have enough space
It may seem obvious but ensuring you have enough space in the first place is a good place to start. If your stockroom is overflowing with inventory, then you may simply need to get some more space. For brick-and-mortar stores, this could mean getting some offsite storage space to keep your seasonal, old, excess or any other stock that you don’t need access to daily. If you’re just operating online, then you can simply upgrade to a bigger warehouse or storage space.
For those looking to set up their first stockroom, you can always talk to some storage experts to figure out if you’re looking at the right size. To begin with, you’ll be stuck with whatever storage is provided in your store, but both retailers and ecommerce traders can look at local storage solutions for their hub if they don’t have space at home or in the shop. Local storage experts should be able to provide advice on the right unit size for you.
Use the right shelving and containers
There is a wide range of stockroom supplies out there to help keep everything organised from traditional warehouse shelving to more advanced rotating cabinet systems. The right shelving and containers depend entirely on your stock. For apparel, you’ll find garment bags and hangers with moth repellents designed for hanging items, while container bins are better for organising smaller items and parts.
You may be reluctant to spend money on elaborate storage supplies, but they can be incredibly helpful in the long run and even pay off their initial investment by saving you money with efficiencies long term. Mobile storage units, for example, have become extremely popular in recent years with storage units that slide around on tracks to help find and get to stock more easily and maximise the storage space itself.
Make the most of the space
Don’t forget to consider every available bit of space in the stockroom including utilising all of the vertical space. If you are setting up a stockroom for the first time, invest in full-length vertical shelving right from the outset. Even if you don’t use all the shelving immediately, it could save you precious time and energy in the future by giving you ready-to-go space to grow your business.
Decide how to organise your inventory
Deciding on where to put your stock and how to arrange it in the stockroom is completely dependant on your business and the stock itself. You can arrange by department, colour, size, style and much more. You can always talk to suppliers to gauge how they organise their stock, but trial and error is sometimes the only way to find the perfect structure when first starting out.
For example, some apparel businesses section their stockroom by sizes and further subdivide by how they hang or store the items.
If you already have a well establish stockroom you should regularly revisit the current layout to see whether it could be improved. Whatever the case, make a consistent effort to stick with the system you choose until you reassess it again.
However you decide to organise your stockroom, here are some general tips that every business could benefit from:
- Place the most popular items at the front. This way they’re easy to grab which will make life much easier and quicker, but it can also be a good indicator of current trends for your business. If you start to get a build up of this product not being used, then it could indicate that it’s no longer popular.
- Keep heavy items near the floor and light items completely off the ground. This is mostly for safety – heavy items will cause less damage near the ground and are easier to move around while light objects can be a trip hazard if left on the floor.
- Create a separate shipping area – this works best near the entrance of your storeroom, so you can quickly ship out your stock or open inventory that has just come in.
Label everything clearly
Once you have an organisational system in place make sure you back it up with a good labelling system and plenty of signage. This will make it much easier and quicker to find the right stock which is just as important for small one-man operations as it is for larger businesses that may have various staff using the stockroom.
Make sure you label sections, individual shelving bays and even different shelving levels with additional arrows where necessary to make sure it’s clear which location each sign is referring to. If possible use a label printer or order labels online rather than handwrite them as this can often cause confusion and they are much less durable.
Once you have a labelling system in place, revisit it just like your organisational system and ask others for their input to make sure everyone understands the labels. Remember that older staff may get used to a poor system.
Organise other useful stockroom items
As a stockroom can be a busy and fast-paced environment, it’s a good idea to put a bulletin board for staff and a notice board near the entrance. This way you can update anyone else using the stockroom on important updates such as incoming inventory, as well as keep notes on anything that happens in the stockroom that you could easily forget later.
It’s also a good idea to keep other useful stockroom tools such as boxcutters, tape rolls, scissors, bubble wrap and more in one location. Label the important items just in case.
Invest in inventory management software
There is also plenty of inventory management software now available that is easier to install and use and is also more affordable than ever. Inventory management software can help you track your stock going in and out to help you manage your operations better and make important decisions to increase profitability or reduce costs. It also takes a lot of the time-consuming manual labour out of managing a stockroom.
Don’t hang on to stock
Getting rid of stock can be difficult but could be essential for saving you space and organising your stockroom better. Although you’ve spent money on it, the longer it hangs around the less valuable it is to your business. You need to weigh up the value of the stock to your business versus the value of the space it’s taking up.
Remember that there are ways to get rid of old or unwanted stock that could still benefit your business. Rather than just discounting it to try and sell it, you can always use it in a competition or giveaway to building connections in the local community or brand awareness amongst existing and potential customers.
Use cycle counting
Cycle counting is an alternative way of counting and checking stock accuracy. Instead of employing the traditional annual technique where inventory is checked once a year, you continually check sections of your inventory. With the yearly stock check, it usually requires shutting down operations and even paying out for temporary or overtime staff with a mad stock-check that often results in yet more errors and discrepancies.
The cycle counting method instead means checking much smaller sections of your stockroom on a weekly or even daily basis. While it requires more consistent checking it’s much quicker and easier as well as usually much more accurate. Each item is typically checked several times a year rather than just once.
Track stockroom KPI’s
To organise a stockroom long term, you need to track KPI’s to measure success. Typical retail stockroom KPI’s include days of supply, inventory turnover, stock to sales ratio, sell through percentage and gross margin return on investment but there are plenty of others that could be more relevant to your business. If you have staff, you could also use qualitative data such as stockroom staff satisfaction to see how well organised your stockroom is.
Get some space to organise a stockroom
Are you looking for stockroom space in Berkshire? Our Bracknell and Windsor stores offer plenty of business storage space for you to create an organised stockroom hub for your online or even brick and mortar business. Contact us today to find out more.