When you run a retail clothing business, there is nothing more important to its success than maintaining the inventory you sell. As such, it is critical that you manage your inventory so that you can stay within your spending budget, manage shrinkage, and appease your customers. A comprehensive set of inventory management practices will keep your store better organized, your customers happier and your sales continuously improving.

Keep an Integrated POS System

The first step in managing your clothing inventory is making sure that you have every item that you carry logged into an integrated point-of-sale system. Initially, you will need to enter style and size information for each item. Make sure everything you sell has a UPC barcode that can be scanned. This will allow you to see inventory counts at a glance so that you know when to order more merchandise. More importantly, when your employees ring customers out or accept returns at the register, your inventory will update automatically.

Stay Organized

Keeping your inventory organized is not just one of the most important ways to manage it, but is also a practice that you can get all of your employees involved in. On the sales floor, clothing should constantly be folded or hung and organized by size and style. In the stock room, your shelves should be organized in exactly the same fashion and clearly labeled so that no inventory is put in the wrong place. By keeping everything organized properly, your customers will have a better shopping experience and fewer items will be lost or misplaced.

Proper Inventory Receiving Practices

Even the smallest clothing stores typically receive weekly merchandise deliveries. Create a decisive and organized way of dealing with shipments that are received so that your inventory counts are not affected. With each shipment, you will receive an enclosed manifest that details what is supposed to be in the shipment. Once the truck is unloaded and you are processing the inventory, physically count it to make sure that nothing is missing. For a small operation, it will not take a lot of extra time to do this, especially if you check things off box by box. If anything is missing, you will know to update your inventory system accordingly and contact your suppliers for replacements or refunds.

Loss Prevention Tags

Utilizing electronic loss prevention stickers and ink tags will help to deter theft in your store. If each piece of clothing in your store has a loss prevention tag attached, it also forces your employees to handle every single item extensively before scanning it for a customer purchase. Clothing that has not had its loss prevention tag deactivated will beep when it passes through sensors placed at the exit points of your store, alerting your employees to a potential problem.

Physical Inventory Counts

All of the other management practices you put into place will ease the burden of physically counting your inventory; a practice you should do at least monthly to keep shrink to a minimum. This practice should be done when the store is closed. To begin, obtain a printout of your inventory counts from the POS system. Work through one style at a time, counting merchandise both on the floor and in the stockroom. Write your physical counts next to the corresponding number from the POS system for each style. When the count is completed, update the system. You can also do this digitally as you go if you have a handheld display unit linked to your POS system.