How to Set Up a Master Inventory List

by Osmond Vitez ; Updated September 26, 2017

Inventory management is often a long and arduous process in business. It requires the daily completion of tasks and activities relating to ordering, receiving, accounting and storing different products in a company’s facilities. Business owners and managers typically create an inventory system to help employees complete these tasks and activities in the best manner possible. Spending too much time on this process can lead to increases in operating costs and lower employee productivity. Creating a master inventory list can help cut down on the time spent on certain inventory management activities.

Define each product line in the company. A product line is a set of related inventory products. Business owners and managers can separate each item in a product line by size, color or other defining features to further divide individual products.

Create item numbers for each product. Item numbers are usually unique to each company. This allows business owners and managers to use numbers that can be easily recognized during the ordering and receiving process.

Develop a spreadsheet system of pertinent inventory information. Computers, business software and spreadsheets allow business owners to input inventory information into a list. Information should include the individual item number, quantity on hand, name, vendor, and vendor’s item or model number.

Update the master inventory only when necessary. Owners and managers should update this list only when there are changes to products or vendors, additions of new products or other significant reasons. This ensures that the list is always accurate for business use.


  • Restricting access to the master inventory list helps business owners and managers avoid inaccuracies in the inventory management system.

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