Stocktaking? Top tips for a successful stress-free stock take

Having accurate records of your stock items within your business allows you to reconcile physical stock to the inventory records, this highlights variances, slow and fast moving stock along with identifying issues with stock management and control.

With accurate knowledge about stock movements and stock on hand, you can make informed decisions about slow-moving items, theft and damaged stock, you can also review staff training requirements and the stock control process.

Planning the stock take

Clearly identify what stock is to be included in the stock count, make a detailed plan and a control sheet recording all locations on the shop floor and the warehouse, remember that any stock in the warehouse, if not recorded in the inventory should not be included in the count.

Make sure all areas are clean and tidy, attach labels to shelves to clearly identify stock excluded from the count.

Give the stocktakers clear guidance on the way they should count stock, working from the top shelf down to the bottom, counting from front to the back, whilst working left to right.

Count every item never estimate! It’s much better to get an accurate count the first time around, this saves time when checking variances.

Don’t forget to open boxes, just because the box says there are 36 items doesn’t mean there actually are. It might seem tedious, especially if you think you have a good idea of quantities, but accuracy is paramount.

Whilst it might seem mean discourage all use of iPod and mobile phones, distractions will easily lead to errors.

Do you have the correct tools?

Stocktaker tools

Manual stock takes

Stock sheets should have a clear description of the item to be counted and not state the current stock on hand figures.  Make sure that all involved in the stock count write any information clearly on the sheets, and don’t forget clip boards, paperwork is easily misplaced.

Use write-off sheets; make sure any damaged stock is identified and logged so stock records are accurate.

Use different coloured pens, an audit trail can be easily followed if the counters use a different colour to the count checkers, the stock take coordinator should use a different colour again.

Barcode data capture

If you are completing a barcode inventory make sure you check all the software well before you start, have staff trained to use the equipment, have a supervisor available on the shopfloor during the count to aid with any queries, also make sure to use the control sheet to log who is using what barcode reader, and remember batteries!


Check all the count sheets handed out are returned, then check all items on the sheets have been counted by the stock taker and clearly marked. Recheck the highlighted discrepancies and report findings.

Finally update your stock on hand records

Once the stock take has been finalised, update the inventory records so they match physical stock quantities.

Review the whole process so you can make improvements next time around!!

Stock take A well planned stock take will result in minimal disruption to customers and staff, but most importantly a well planned stock take will ultimately save time and costs in the long run.


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