Four ways to reduce human error in stock management

As much as we despair when technology lets us down, the fact remains that humans are far more prone to errors than computers – particularly when numbers are involved. Therefore, businesses can often cut costs by using technology to reduce the instances where employees must work with numbers and data.

17th August 2016

Builders’ merchants and hardware stores often find that stock control softwareis a particularly valuable investment, given the high chance (and cost) of human error occurring during inventory management processes.  In today’s blog post, we run through specific ways to reduce human error in stock management.

#1 Simplify processes for employees

Regardless of whether you use stock control software, all brick-and-mortar retailers can benefit by simplifying processes in the warehouse. First, analyse all the processes in your current stock management approach. Are there any steps that are unnecessary? More actions lead to more errors.

Pay particular attention to any exceptions that apply to certain products or parts of the warehouse or store. These exceptions have their own string of actions attached to them, and they’re performed rarely – significantly increasing the chance of error.

#2 Training

Again, this is one factor that all retailers can benefit from. Improving your training program and offering refresher sessions can significantly cut human error. Although the initial time investment is significant, an effective training session should rapidly claw back these costs – and soon start bringing benefits. It’s extremely important that training has a focus on software use, because if new employees aren’t confident with it, they’ll avoid using the software wherever possible – which creates significant problems in the long term.

#3 Barcodes

Many hardware stores now use barcodes on the majority of their products, often printing them using software barcoding modules wherever necessary. Barcodes cut human error in numerous ways: they make pricing at the till faster and more accurately when compared with keying in prices or codes, and they play a significant role in stock takes.

By using handheld barcode scanners, your annual inventory check or regular cycle counts are extremely accurate. Visual checks are prone to error, as employees assume all similar looking items are identical when carrying out counts.

Additionally, barcode scanners remove human error from data entry, meaning that your point of sale software is always updated with the latest stock levels as items are sold, counted or delivered.

#4 Ordering

Another critical area of business that requires entering figures and manipulating data is the ordering process. When carried out manually, employees may forget to check stock levels of certain products, delaying deliveries and potentially causing items to go out of stock.

Also, if your employees are rushed for time they may make errors when drawing up purchase orders – ordering too much or too little of certain products. Depending on the situation, this can be harmless or extremely costly.

Automated purchase orders and stock alerts let you create automatically populated purchase orders with just a couple of clicks, drawing on information in your stock control software to fill out the forms. When backed by accurate data entry through barcodes and regular cycle counts, automated purchase orders can be equally precise.

Does your current stock control solution leave much to be desired? See how Trader can revolutionise inventory management at your business.

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