Most stores that sell tangible products must maintain an in-house inventory. But when you run a small store like a boutique with a short list of specialty items, you may find yourself having to decide between buying an expensive inventory management program or keeping inventory the old-fashioned way, by hand. Find a middle ground that allows you keep official records while avoiding a costly software system.
Tracking inventory requires you to keep watch over the product coming in and going out of your boutique’s backroom constantly. If you fail to accurately track this information you could end up with too-little product at any given time, which could cost you sales. A small boutique commonly keeps a low stock in general, so an unexpected boom in sales could catch you off-guard and waiting for provisions. An ideal tracking solution will quickly indicate the need to order more supplies once inventory falls beneath a certain level that you set.
Small Business Inventory Software
A few software providers offer low-to-mid-cost inventory management software that fits the needs of a small boutique store. InFlow is one inventory solution for a small-sized retail business that allows product cost tracking in addition to standard tracking features. Another option is iMagic inventory management tool, which allows for automated re-ordering. You can use IntelliTrack with a hand-held computer as you walk around your store. These solutions allow you to enter inventory sales as you receive them at your register or a summary at the end of the business day. You can generate reports and make modifications as needed.
You can also use a spreadsheet program or a database program to track inventory. It is a bit more laborious option, but some programs, like OpenOffice Calc, are available for free. In this scenario, you simply keep a manual, running list of your boutique's items and their quantities. You do not have the benefit of reminders or automatic ordering systems that some other systems provide.
Integrating Barcoding Technology
When you're tired of manual entry into your inventory management program, you can then look into bar coding systems. With a bar coding system, you link a scanner to the register and your inventory management program to automatically track levels with each scan of the reader. This is a more reliable way to manage your store’s stock over time.
Louise Balle has been writing Web articles since 2004, covering everything from business promotion to topics on beauty. Her work can be found on various websites. She has a small-business background and experience as a layout and graphics designer for Web and book projects.