Best Tips for Inventory Excellence

As a home furnishings retailer, your most important tangible asset is your inventory.


There are many opportunities to gain better control over your inventory to achieve success. Having a proper inventory management system can help you maintain inventory accuracy and visibility as well as improve customer satisfaction. At STORIS, we have over 30 years of expertise helping home furnishings retailers successfully manage their inventory.

In fact, we help retailers achieve 99% inventory accuracy, reduce broken promises to customers, and run overall efficient operations.

Below we reveal a step-by-step guide to our retailers’ best tips for inventory excellence.
Gold Line

Start With Your Team

1. Set Standards

A great place to start is to keep your standards high by maintaining a clean and organized warehouse. Prioritizing attention to detail sets the expectation that any product or procedure that does not conform to your standards is unacceptable and holds employees accountable.

2. Train for Success

Train your employees to succeed in their roles. Utilize test scenarios to practice job functions and ensure new hires are comfortable handling processes before working in your warehouse with your actual inventory. Incorporate a technology system that enables each user to build personalized menus for easy access to their most used tasks, processes, and reports.

3. Minimize Inventory Shrinkage

As a manager, you know it’s critical to accurately manage your inventory to prevent shrinkage. Integrated technology enables you to easily keep track of your inventory by managing multiple store locations and warehouses from one complete system. Further, utilizing audit logs are an efficient way to monitor your team’s performance and detect any suspicious behavior.

Gold Line

The Essentials

1. Track with Precision

Maintain real-time updates for your entire inventory including quantities and statuses across your supply chain. By integrating your logistics, sales, and purchasing data, you can develop an accurate picture of your inventory at all times. This level of insight helps your buyers make strategic purchasing decisions to increase your sales, quicken turns, and grow profits. Further, with serialized inventory tracking, you can track each piece of inventory from your customer’s Sales Order to service and warranty requests.

2. Consolidate Across Channels

Integrating your inventory across channels is key to creating a seamless customer experience. This includes all of your store and warehouse locations, eCommerce platform, and mobile POS devices. Having complete control of your inventory management enables you to provide accurate product information and meet customer expectations. A complete unified commerce solution provides real-time data which helps retailers save valuable time and eliminates manual effort.

3. Make Important Adjustments

Your processes for making stock adjustments should be user-friendly and efficient. As every business is dynamic, being able to make changes to your inventory without impacting data precision is critical. This includes quantity adjustments, product statuses, prices, discounts, transfers, write-offs, vendor charge-backs, special order details, and more.

4. Maintain with Ease

Entering new inventory into your system or making mass adjustments doesn’t need to be a tedious, manual process. Use Conversion Spreadsheets to import hundreds of items all at once. Further, use these spreadsheets to continually update promotional prices, change descriptions, assign collections, and more. Inventory management should be an ongoing process that can be easily managed.

5. Go Mobile

A Mobile POS with real-time access to your inventory database provides your sales team with instant access to real-time product data directly at their fingertips. The first questions customers typically ask are if certain items are in stock and when they can receive their selections. Having a mobile solution enables your team to answer these questions instantly, without having to leave their customers’ side.

Did You Know? Home furnishings retailers carry about $1.43 in inventory for every $1 of sales.

– Capterra

Daily Processes

Receiving

Receiving inventory is all about speed and precision. With integrated technology, recording merchandise as soon as it arrives at the dock becomes a seamless process. Managers can also utilize technology to ensure their warehouse is properly staffed and that their team is aware of inbound shipments each day. Your warehouse team should check to make sure there are no damages from previous shipping and handling before you accept the merchandise to avoid later mark downs.

Cross-Docking

Utilize a cross-docking strategy to distribute your products to multiple destinations in the most productive and expedited way. Within your distribution center, specify a confined space that you can use to transfer incoming shipments directly to outbound transportation with little storage time in between. This strategy not only increases fulfillment speeds but also will save your team a vast amount of time.

Picking

Warehouse picking is the process where individual items are picked from a fulfillment facility to satisfy customers’ orders. Advanced software solutions can determine the fastest path throughout your warehouse to locate merchandise needed to be picked, saving you time, electricity, and gas. A good tip for multi-carton items is to place all related boxes in one location to reduce misplacement.

Further, speed up picking in your warehouse for products that are applicable to be scanned and automatically assigned an individualized serial number to your customers’ sales order.

Transfers and Movement Tracking

Each time you move a piece of inventory, whether it is a transfer between stores or warehouses or a movement within your same warehouse, it’s critical to ensure you are recording the movement. Integrated technology helps your team decide when a transfer is needed, which items should be transferred, and from what destination. The ability to schedule transfers that meet specific criteria as well as search for available products in multiple locations will improve your inventory flow and ultimately help deliver on your fulfillment promises to your customers.

Cycle Counts

Maintain the integrity of your inventory by performing frequent cycle counts. A cycle count involves counting and auditing a portion of your inventory on a specific day. Some retailers will cycle through their entire warehouse multiple times a year. This process allows you to identify and correct poor procedures, mistakes, or discrepancies while greatly improving your inventory accuracy. Cycle counts also keep your team using best practices in their day-to-day activities.

Perform Annual Physical Inventories

It is suggested that retailers perform a full physical inventory where each piece of inventory is counted and checked at the end of your fiscal year or for some retailers, after every quarter. For retailers who have experienced inventory issues, it may be a good practice to do a full physical more often so you can calculate accurate shrink numbers and strategize any corrective actions needed. When completing a full physical inventory, ensure you start fresh with accurate inventory quantities and general ledger values.

Utilize Barcode Scanning

Implementing barcode scanning allows for a more accurate level of precision when managing inventory. Barcode scanning technology helps increase the efficiency of related tasks including receiving and picking processes, transfers, cycle counts, and full physical inventories. There are two types of barcode scanning used in the home furnishings industry: batch and radio-frequency (RF). Both systems allow you to accurately transmit information throughout your organization to one centralized database and eliminate human error.
Batch barcode collects data and sends it directly to your software when docked to a computer whereas Radio Frequency communicates data in real-time over a wireless network. RF barcode is an ideal choice for retailers running multiple warehouses and stores locations.

Worker in Warehouse Barcode Scanning Inventory
Gold Line

Approximately 42% of warehouses and distribution centers are expected to invest in technology and automation. (FounderJar)

Warehouse Productivity

1. Organize Your Warehouse Structure

Establish a system for how you organize your warehouse structure. Retailers find success using a mask 01-A-01 code where the first number represents the aisle, the letter represents the level, and the third number represents the row. As a rule of thumb:

  • Store large and high velocity items on the ground level.
  • Make certain products bundled or frequently sold together are near each other.
  • Keep best-selling products closer to the front and seasonal products near the back or top of your shelves.
  • Assign a Priority Picking area to move specific items quicker.
2. Maximize Storage Capacity

Directed Putaway is a popular warehousing tool used by high-volume retailers. This automated process can help you position merchandise in your warehouse in a manner that improves space utilization and increases storage capacity. Directed Putaway compares dimensions and velocities between your inventory and storage location to determine ideal placements in your warehouse and maximize your putaway speed and efficiency.

3. Advanced Warehouse Management

Advanced Warehouse Management tools are available to optimize the day-to-day business processes of your warehouse and distribution centers, while reducing necessary supervision. You can use advanced task scheduling to automatically assign, prioritize, and send daily warehouse assignments directly to your team’s RF barcode scanners. Easily view up-to-the-minute activity and adjust assignments to react to real-time scenarios.

4. Label Smart

Design labels with valuable information for products to help easily identify each piece. Include images, special order details, pricing and clearance information, as well as notes on damaged items to assist with merchandise organization. Technology that is integrated with a Forms Designer tool allows you to make unique, branded showroom floor tags, POS labels, inventory barcodes, receipts, and documents for purchasing, receiving, and distributing inventory.

5. Utilize Manifests and Pick Lists

Create documentation that assists in accurate inventory distribution. Pick Lists organize merchandise that needs to be included on trucks for specific routes, while Delivery Manifests include details such as Cash on Delivery amounts to ensure drivers have accurate information to complete the delivery successfully.

6. Set Up Prepping Stations

Prepping inventory for delivery is an important step in the furniture industry. For some retailers, the process may involve multiple steps including prep, staging, and checkpoints for loading deliveries. Have clearly designated areas and teams assigned to each stage to help get the merchandise ready to go efficiently.

8. Streamline Fulfillment

With customer expectations high, it’s more important than ever to have your merchandise delivered to your customers efficiently and on time. Integrated technology enables your sales team to add order comments and specific delivery instructions directly into your Sales Order to inform your warehouse team of necessary details. Additionally, advanced tools are available to help you troubleshoot any merchandise that have fulfillment dates in jeopardy. This helps your team proactively communicate with customers regarding the timing and rescheduling of their orders as well as contacting your vendors to resolve pending issues.

Did You Know? 57% of home furnishings retailers believe that supply chain management gives them a competitive edge.

– Zippa, 2022

Optimize Flow

1. Capitalize on Best Sellers

Help your buyers, planners, and merchandisers generate merchandising strategies that lead to a higher ROI and profitability with integrated reporting capabilities. These tools identify product performance and sales trends over time, as well as your top-selling items. Analyzing your data by vendor, item, category, collection, and selling location can generate ideal product recommendations for your buyers.

Additionally, reporting tools provide your team with insights into product placement in your warehouse. It is recommended to keep best selling items near the docks for delivery to minimize picking time and move your slower turning items near the back of your warehouse.

2. Use the Just-in-Time Method

Reduce on-hand inventory using the Just In Time Inventory method. This allows you to maximize your on-hand inventory and open-to-buy dollars. Just-in-Time inventory management technology will balance the needs of your company, demand from your customers, shipping times of vendors, and real-time sales forecasting. Purchasing is completed for stock items on an “as-needed” basis, without over carrying inventory stocks levels and ultimately increasing your available cash-flow.

3. Practice First In, First Out

An effective way to manage inventory flow is the First In, First Out method. This process reduces the age of inventory across your accounting and maintains accurate valuations. By calculating cost based on the oldest purchased piece compared to the current selling price, you can secure ideal margins.

4. Restock for Backorders

Replenish inventory for backorder needs to automatically generate a Purchase Order for a sale where the item is out of stock. Integrated technology can cross-reference stock across multiple locations and automatically schedule transfers to get the right quantities delivered to the stores in need.

5. Auto-Replenish

Automatically reorder your best-selling, staple items. Advanced technology provides your buyers with everything they need for purchasing precision directly at their fingertips. With flexible tools for auto-replenishment, buyers can set desired minimum or safety stock levels for each product or calculate all available supply, including on-hand quantities, incoming Purchase orders, and transfers as its foundation for making purchasing recommendations. These processes enable you to utilize a replenishment strategy that matches your buying needs to reorder key merchandise effectively.

6. Manage Successful Fulfillments

Deliveries are the primary method of fulfillment for home furnishing retailers and an important step in the flow of your inventory through your company-wide logistics. Coordinating your customer deliveries to achieve realistic goals is key to building first-hand trust. Directly at the Point of Sale, establish a route’s capacity with automated cut-off points using various rules. These may include dollar value, number of stops, total pieces, total cubic volume, or labor hours. This helps schedule at a detailed level and ensures the stops are realistic, saving time on back-tracking.

Additionally, utilizing advanced technology your team can schedule different delivery dates, from different fulfillment locations, and to different addresses from within a single Sales Order. This helps provide a seamless delivery for your designer, builder, and contractor customers.

7. Third-Party Delivery Routing

Optimize your delivery routing capabilities with integrations to certified third-party mapping technology partners. This integration helps map your routes to save on resources such as mileage, gas, and time, as well as communicate GPS routes and updates to your drivers. Additionally, you’ll be able to keep your customers informed by allowing them to track their deliveries.

Gold Line

Integrated technology powers effective retail inventory management.

Inventory management is the backbone for keeping your business running efficiently. Investing in real-time, industry-specific technology provides your business with the tools needed to enhance the level of control you have over your inventory.

STORIS’ inventory management software offers home furnishings retailers a comprehensive combination of inventory tools needed to improve inventory accuracy, increase profits, and enhance customer satisfaction.

Contact a STORIS Expert Today

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

When you choose , you get more than an industry-trusted retail software solution. You get the know-how of our team of experts, superior service, and opportunities for growth. Use the form below to learn what can do for you.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.