What is Inventory Tracking? Methods, Benefits, Challenges & Best Practices


Apr 29, 2024 | Inventory Management

Home > Blog > What is Inventory Tracking? Methods, Benefits, Challenges & Best Practices

In e-commerce, where every click and scroll counts, the efficient management of inventory can make or break a business. Imagine your customer eagerly adds an item to their cart, proceeds to checkout, only to be disappointed as they discover the product is out of stock. 

This scenario not only results in a lost sale but also potentially damages the reputation of your online store. So, what’s the solution? The answer lies in implementing effective inventory tracking systems. 

But before we dive into inventory management systems, let’s take a close look at inventory tracking and how it can help your e-commerce business scale.

What is Inventory Tracking?

At its core, inventory tracking is a process of monitoring and managing the stock of goods within a business. It involves keeping tabs on the quantities, locations, and statuses of various SKUs in a company’s inventory.

Let’s consider the scenario of an online bookstore. The seller procures books from various publishers and distributors to offer on their website and in-store. To efficiently manage their inventory, they employ inventory tracking. They begin by recording all available books, including crucial details like title, author, ISBN, quantity, and warehouse location. 

As customers make purchases on the website, inventory levels fluctuate accordingly. Whenever a book is sold, the seller promptly updates their inventory records to reflect the reduced quantity. If certain books start running low in stock, the inventory tracking system triggers alerts, prompting the seller to reorder more copies to prevent stockouts. 

Furthermore, the seller uses the data gathered through inventory tracking to analyze sales trends over time. This analysis helps identify the highest-selling SKUs, enabling informed decisions regarding restocking or promoting specific books. 

Ultimately, implementing inventory tracking ensures that the bookstore consistently offers the right products at the right time, thereby enhancing customer satisfaction and optimizing inventory management processes.

What is Being Tracked?

Now that we understand the essence of inventory tracking let’s delve deeper into what exactly is being tracked in inventory management. Here are several components that are monitored and managed:

what is tracked in inventory management

  • Products: The items or goods that are stocked in inventory, each with its own unique identifier (SKU, barcode, etc.).
  • Quantities: The number of units or items of each product available in inventory, ensuring accurate stock levels.
  • Locations: The physical storage locations within a warehouse or facility where each product is stored, facilitating efficient retrieval and organization.
  • Statuses: The current status of each product, such as whether it is in stock, out of stock, on order, in transit, or reserved for specific purposes.
  • SKU Details: Essential information associated with each product, including its title, description, unit price, supplier details, and any other relevant data.
  • Transactions: Any movements or changes in inventory, such as sales, returns, transfers between locations, or adjustments, are tracked to maintain accurate inventory records.

What are the Benefits of Inventory Tracking

Whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, the ability to track and manage your inventory effectively can make all the difference in your bottom line. From optimizing resource allocation to enhancing customer satisfaction, the benefits of inventory tracking are manifold and far-reaching.

  • Optimized Resource Allocation
  • Improved Forecasting and Planning
  • Enhanced Operational Efficiency
  • Reduced Holding Costs
  • Enhanced Customer Satisfaction

benefits of inventory tracking

1. Optimized Resource Allocation

Inventory tracking allows businesses to have real-time visibility into their stock levels, enabling them to optimize resource allocation. By understanding which products are in high demand and which are moving slowly, businesses can adjust their purchasing and production schedules accordingly. This prevents overstocking of slow-moving items while ensuring that popular products remain readily available. Consequently, businesses can allocate their resources more efficiently, reducing carrying costs and maximizing profitability.

2. Improved Forecasting and Planning

Accurate inventory tracking facilitates better forecasting and planning. By analyzing historical data on sales trends and inventory turnover rates, businesses can make informed predictions about future demand. This enables them to stock up on popular items ahead of peak seasons or promotional periods, thereby avoiding stockouts and lost sales opportunities. 

3. Enhanced Operational Efficiency

Inventory tracking streamlines operational processes, leading to enhanced efficiency across the board. With automated systems in place, businesses can minimize manual errors associated with inventory management, such as double ordering or stock discrepancies. Also, real-time tracking allows for quicker identification of stock shortages or excess inventory, enabling prompt action to address these issues. 

4. Reduced Holding Costs

By maintaining optimal stock levels and preventing overstocking, businesses can reduce the need for additional warehouse space and avoid the risk of inventory obsolescence. This not only frees up valuable storage space but also minimizes the costs associated with storing, handling, and insuring excess inventory. 

5. Enhanced Customer Satisfaction

One of the most crucial benefits of inventory tracking is its positive impact on customer satisfaction. By ensuring that popular items are consistently in stock and ready for prompt delivery, businesses can meet customer demand more effectively. Also, accurate inventory tracking minimizes the risk of backorders, delays, or order cancellations, thereby fostering trust and loyalty among customers. 

Best Practices for Inventory Tracking

Implementing best practices in inventory tracking not only ensures accurate stock levels but also enables businesses to make informed decisions based on real-time data. Here are some tried-and-tested best practices for effective inventory tracking:

  • Invest in Automated Systems
  • Implement Barcode or RFID Technology
  • Regularly Conduct Physical Counts

best practices of inventory tracking

1. Invest in Automated Systems

Invest in inventory management software or an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system equipped with automated tracking capabilities. These systems can streamline data entry processes, minimize human error, and provide real-time visibility into stock levels, orders, and shipments. 

Choose a solution that integrates seamlessly with your existing systems and offers customizable features to suit your specific business needs.

2. Implement Barcode or RFID Technology

Handheld devices, such as barcode scanners, play a crucial role in streamlining inventory management tasks. They enable workers to scan product barcodes or RFID tags, instantly updating inventory records in real-time and eliminating the need for manual data entry. 

With handheld devices, inventory counts can be conducted quickly and accurately, enhancing efficiency and reducing errors.

3. Regularly Conduct Physical Counts

Perform regular physical counts of inventory to verify accuracy and identify discrepancies between recorded and actual stock levels. 

Schedule cycle counts for specific product categories or high-value items to ensure thorough coverage without disrupting daily operations. Compare physical count data with system records and investigate any discrepancies to address underlying issues promptly.

Let’s Simplify Inventory Tracking!

Efficient inventory tracking isn’t just a luxury for businesses; it’s a strategic necessity. By implementing the best practices outlined above, businesses can transform inventory management from a daunting task into a streamlined, agile process that drives efficiency, reduces costs, and maximizes profitability. Together, let’s make inventory management not just a task on your to-do list but a cornerstone of your business strategy!

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