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September 2, 2015

By Angelika Joachimowicz

From the stacked shelves of kibble to the tasty treats lining the checkout counter, pet retail stores are an exciting novelty for most customers. Unlike other businesses that carry or sell pet items, pet shops really do encompass the idea of ‘having it all’. As a pet retailer ‘having it all’ can get quite overwhelming, really quick. You want to offer your customers the best there is while also ensuring they find exactly what they’re looking for to keep them returning.

With all the various types of in-store inventory the average pet retailer has on hand, there are problems that can arise without properly accounting for every item coming in and out of your store.

Excess Inventory

Whether you accidentally ordered too much stock or didn’t sell as much you predicted, excess inventory is something that should be avoided at all costs for the following reasons:

• Prevents you from bringing in new and more sell-worthy stock due to the lack of space available on the floor.

• Too many items can overwhelm customers and too much choice can result in lower sales.

• Lost profit by placing items on clearance (i.e., below your initial selling price).

• Throwing your items away, resulting in a total loss. Depending on what the excess inventory is, items with an expiry date such as food and medicine simply can’t be sold.

Low Inventory

Where excess is bad for business, not enough of something can be just as detrimental to your store’s health. Missed sales opportunities will leave you with lower revenue and unhappy customers that most likely journeyed over to a competitor’s location to find what they were looking for. According to a study done by the IHL Group, worldwide, retailers lose an estimated $800 billion a year due to inventory management mistakes. The good news is that this kind of loss is 100 percent preventable.

Ways to Track Data

All retailers, whatever they are selling, have to track their inventory. The most common ways are:

Spreadsheets: manually updating numbers on a computer.

Pre-printed inventory cards: manually writing down data.

Software: With the ease and reliance of a point of sale system that includes an inventory management feature.

Manually counting your inventory may seem like a way to save money, but in most cases it’s not the reality. Doing calculations by hand actually increases your operation costs in a number of ways.
There is no access to real-time information. Often, by the time the report is ready the information is stale and not as relevant as it would have been when you really needed it. The likelihood of human error is pretty high. The speed at which you need to operate and the volume of information you are dealing with only increases your chances of making a crucial mistake.

With these two points in mind, manually tracking inventory is also extremely time-consuming. Although an automated system does require a financial investment, it’s an investment that will not only pay off in labor costs and saved time, but also in prevented errors that could have potentially cost you thousands of dollars.

A Central Pet Inventory System

Whether you’re a lone wolf or you operate a pack of store locations, having your data in one location is optimal to running a successful business. By centralizing all of your merchandise digitally and allowing a user-friendly software to help you run your business, you will be able to:

• Input all inventory information once. Expanding your business just got easier in-store and even online.

• Eliminate potential errors caused by selling identical inventory twice and other types of administrative mishaps.

• Fill orders automatically.

• Keep a close eye on inventory levels, separated by store. Sales may vary based on store location and an inventory system within your POS system will allow you to seamlessly transfer stock between locations.

As an independent pet retailer having the right inventory at the right time, moving at an optimal speed is key to your success. Time is of the essence when managing a store so saving even a few minutes a day will add up quickly. Actively implementing best practices to properly track inventory and centralizing information will not only affect your ability to sell smarter but improve your customer relationships.

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