Purchasing and storing inventory can be a major expense for a small business. The inventory clerk, also known as a materials recording clerk, is responsible for safeguarding and accounting for your inventory. She receives newly arrived inventory and tracks it as it moves in and out of a central storage facility, such as a stockroom. The inventory must be clearly marked, labeled and easy to access. Depending on your company’s size, she may be supervised by an inventory manager or by another department head.
Although your inventory clerk doesn’t need a college degree, he does need to have earned a high school diploma or an equivalent. A strong background in business, bookkeeping or mathematics is a big plus. He should have basic computer skills and be comfortable working with computerized databases and electronic spreadsheets. Your inventory clerk should be detail-oriented, have good communication skills and be able to work independently.
An inventory clerk’s job is an entry-level position. A supervisor or a more experienced employee will provide the on-the-job training. This training can last from one to six months, depending on your inventory system and her previous experience. She’ll start by counting the existing stock and learn how to enter information into the computer. She’ll learn inventory flow by tracking each item through various departments. When her training is complete, she should be able to handle all aspects of receiving, storing and disbursing inventory.
Inventory clerks must accurately count each piece of inventory when a new shipment arrives and when inventory leaves the stockroom. If another department sends a request for inventory, he checks the paperwork to be sure it is correct before releasing anything. If a certain item gets low, he orders more to avoid running out. He manually counts the inventory at a set time, such as once a month, and compares the numbers against the master inventory list for accuracy. He alerts his immediate supervisor whenever inventory is missing.
The inventory clerk’s recordkeeping duties start with updating the records whenever new inventory arrives or leaves the stockroom. When new inventory arrives, your inventory clerk will create a report for damaged or missing inventory if needed. She’ll create a new label or tag for each piece of inventory and add that information to the master inventory list. From this information, she’ll prepare balance reports for each piece of inventory along with price lists. These reports can help you trim costs and cut waste by highlighting overstocked inventory, missing or damaged inventory or any large amounts of missing or damaged inventory.