Merchandise inventory consists of all the products that a business sells to make profit. An inventory can include thousands of different items. Each item must be given a name, selling price and cost. Every item must be accurately counted, and any changes in quantity due to deliveries or sales must be immediately recorded. It's time-consuming and costly to manually type the stock number and price of each item. And human error can lead to mistakes. Use a barcode system to speed up inventory accounting and increase your income.
Install a Point of Sale software program on your computer. POS software records all transactions that affect the value and volume of your inventory. POS is generally used by grocery stores and supermarkets in checkout counters to record all items sold to a customer and to issue the corresponding receipt. A retail POS system typically includes a computer, monitor, cash drawer, receipt printer and barcode scanner.
Get a barcode scanner and plug it into the corresponding port at the back of your computer. Use a Y-key dual-keyboard adapter if you have a keyboard-type plug at the end of the scanner cable. It will allow you to plug the keyboard and the scanner into the same port.
Read and study how to enter data into your POS sotware program. Your POS program, once installed, will be blank. It will not contain product names, short descriptions, beginning quantity, price or item costs in your inventory. This data and each product's barcode number must be entered manually and individually into your POS program. Each POS program has its own set of data-entry instructions.
Open the POS program. Locate the windows where you can enter the initial stock records and type in the product name, short description, weight or volume, selling price, cost and barcode number. Use the barcode scanner when you enter the barcode number, to avoid keying in all the numbers or typing errors. The barcode number acts as your product's stock-keeping unit (SKU), and will contain all its information.
Open the menu bar of your POS program and navigate to the window where it shows you the "Inventory List," a list of all the products you entered and their corresponding quantity, cost and selling price. Check each item until you are sure that the list does not contain any errors. Edit or correct errors in the "Product Edit" option of your POS.
Go to the sales screen of your POS and aim it toward the barcode of any item in your inventory. Press the push-button switch to scan the item. Look at your POS sales screen and check the barcode number, product name, short description, weight or volume, quantity on hand and selling price. This information should instantly be available onscreen once you scan and read the barcode of an inventory item. The barcode facilitates the data entry and retrieval.
Set up your computer, barcode scanner, monitor and receipt printer at your store's checkout counter. Enter any transaction into your POS program that involves any addition (delivery, sales return) or deduction (sales, theft, expired items). Use the barcode scanner to identify each product.
Raul Avenir has been writing for various websites since 2009, authoring numerous articles concentrated on business and technology. He is a technically inclined businessman experienced in construction and real estate development. Aside from being an accountant, Avenir is also a business consultant. He graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Science in business administration.