Tracking inventory in a thrift shop can be difficult to accomplish. Every product likely is unique and varies in condition, while the cost of many items may not warrant expensive inventory-tracking measures. Retail solutions range from barcoding software to something as simple as an excel spreadsheet, but the best solution could fall somewhere in between.

Barcoding Software and Complete Inventory Management

One of the more expensive and comprehensive solutions to controlling inventory in a thrift store is by using barcoding software and a computer to record sales. This allows each item to be tracked and given a unique item number. Every item that is sold is accounted for, as well as what is left on the shelves. This can be expensive in terms of equipment, as well as time if you choose to create all the barcodes and tag all the items rather than spend the money for an entirely-automated inventory control system.

Cash Registers

Most registers can be programmed, and any register that allows any kind of product segmentation can make inventory easier to control. Buttons that correspond to product types make inventory control more about keeping track of item categories rather than a status update on each individual item for sale. Some registers allow for three- or four-digit codes to make it even easier to track what types of items have been sold.

Simple Adding Calculator Inventory Control

Thrift shops where inventory control is not a huge requirement for running the business may be content with a low-cost solution like an adding machine or printing calculator. An adding machine that prints on a 2-part roll of paper can allow for some form of tracking. Different pricing structures for different categories make tracking sales easier. Books might be $1.99 each while clothes might be $1.98 per item and dinner plates $1.97 each. Keeping the relative cost of a $2 item different according to item type can make it easier to track sales by category or type.

Excel Spreadsheet

Excel or a similar spreadsheet can be used to list and input the inventory manually. It is best to organize items in categories. Even hand-written receipts can be used to track the sales of most items. This takes time and might be more detail than you require, but a master list can be updated by the day or week. It all really depends on how much time you want to spend and how much detail you desire.