For any business, an inventory that isn’t organized can cost you time and money. This is never more true than it is with apparel resellers who must turn their stock often to keep up with the ever-changing fashion trends and seasonality. Luckily, there are a few things these business owners can do to get their inventory organized and running smoothly. But first, let’s discuss why it’s important to have an organized inventory.
The Importance of Well-Organized Inventory
When you’re dealing with hundreds or even thousands of items, it’s crucial to have a system for keeping track of them all.
An organized inventory is important for a few reasons, including:
- Safety: In a crowded warehouse, it’s easy for things to get in disarray or misplaced. This can lead to lost inventory and potential accidents.
- Efficiency: An unorganized inventory takes longer to search through, which can cost you time and money.
- Profitability: Knowing what you have in stock and where it is located helps you avoid overstocking or understocking items. This can save you money and help you sell more products.
- Time savings: If you know where everything is, you don’t have to waste valuable time looking through mountains of clothes.
- Money savings: When you know what you have and where it is, you’re less likely to order duplicates.
- Easier tracking: An organized inventory is just plain easier to manage. When it’s all laid out in front of you, it’s much simpler to keep track of what needs to be restocked and what can be sold.
- Streamlines operations: Finally, keeping your clothing inventory well-organized helps streamline your business, making receiving, storage, picking, shipping and tracking more efficient.
With the right system in place, you can easily keep track of what you have and locate items when you need them. An organized, visual system will also cut down on errors and let you know when stock is running low, so you can order more.
Now that we’ve gone over why it’s important to have an organized inventory let’s talk about how to achieve it.
Utilize Labels to Bring Order
The first step to organizing apparel inventory, or any inventory for that matter, is to use labels. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many resellers don’t take the time to properly label their clothing. That way, when new clothing items come in, they can be properly sorted and labeled.
Upon their arrival at your facility, label the items. Include detail such as:
- Description of the item
- Number of items in the package
- Size, if applicable
- Stock-keeping unit (SKU), if applicable
When you are finished, any warehouse operatives looking for items should be able to find them easily and tell what they are without opening any packaging. Ensure that the print on labels is neat and large enough to be read easily.
Since some people’s handwriting is messy, it’s best to use a labeling machine or another computerized system to print the information you need on a label.
Use The Best Storage Systems
Once you have your items labeled, it’s time to start thinking about where you will store them. The two main storage systems used in warehouses by resellers are open shelving and vertical storage.
For smaller items, open shelving systems are ideal. An open shelving system is one where the shelves are not enclosed by doors, making it easy to see what’s on each shelf. This type of system is particularly useful if you carry a lot of different items in your inventory.
Open shelving systems come in a variety of sizes and can be customized to fit your needs. These systems allow you to see all of your items at a glance and make it easy to grab what you need. Additionally, open shelving systems allow for good airflow, which is important for preventing mold and mildew from forming on clothing.
Another popular mode of storing apparel items is vertical storage. This type of storage uses racks that are tall and skinny, allowing you to store a lot of items in a small space. This is ideal if you have limited space for your inventory. It’s also good because all you need to do is look up and down to find the correct container instead of walking down long aisles that contain boxes or totes on the floor.
Store Clothing Items Strategically
It pays to be smart when you are organizing your inventory. There are several methods for doing this, and we are going to go over a few, including stacking vertically, clustering items with relationships, and keeping the best-selling items close to the front.
Small apparel companies use vertical stacking methods for their items most of the time, as doing it this way conserves space. In addition, this arrangement helps organization things better since you can read all the labels at a glance vs. walking down a long line of materials that are stored horizontally.
There are times that you may need to veer away from this rule because of unusual packaging or other ways that products arrive at the warehouse. That’s all right, but keep the rest of your inventory stacked vertically.
Cluster items with relationships
If you have a lot of products, consider breaking them down into categories such as:
Additionally, it’s a good idea to keep similar items together. For example, say you carry sports clothing. You can cluster locations of items that go together since you’ll likely pick orders that include most of them in many instances.
For example, you can put football apparel and accessories like helmets, game jerseys, football pants, girdles and socks near each other.
This system is better than storing them alphabetically in your storage facility since that might put clothing items a good distance away from each other. It will also save warehouse personnel from making unnecessary steps to pick the clothing they need for an order.
Keep Best Selling Items Close to the Front
You should always store your best-selling items close to the front, so they are easy to find and replenish. Not only is it a time saver during the picking process, but it also allows employees to quickly see when stock is running low so more can be ordered.
To support this strategy, think about using an inventory management system (IMS) that uses an ABC system that ranks items based on demand, cost and risk.
For instance, you can identify “A” items with high demand and move these fast-moving items to the front for easy access. On the other hand, the system can also help identify low sellers so that they can be moved the furthest from the front or prepare for an eventual phase-out.
You also don’t need to physically see when stock is running low with an IMS since it will alert you when you’ve reached the threshold and need to order more.
Keep Track of your Inventory
Now that you’ve put your inventory away, you’ll need to track it. That will keep your inventory from being misplaced or lost. It also makes you aware of when to replenish brands or a certain category of clothes.
For a small operation, say a few racks or shelves in a big garage or a mini-warehouse, you can get by with a spreadsheet. However, you take some risks with this method, especially if your stock is high-value fashion items.
If you are organized and tend to stay on top of things, then using a spreadsheet on a computer to update clothing movements and transactions will work for you.
On the other hand, if you are not the type to go through the trouble, your inventory will eventually become a mess. You could lose money from lost sales or gain dissatisfied customers when you can’t find items to pick and ship. Customer reviews can be savage when this happens, so you will want to avoid having a messy warehouse.
You need to consider growth, too. As your small business grows, the complexity of tracking grows along with it.
Take Your Business to the Next Level with N41 ERP
When you get too big for a spreadsheet, give N41 a try. We provide an easy-to-use solution for managing your business’s inventory as part of our Enterprise Resource Planning Solution (ERP).
N41 ERP will save you time and money by automating many of the tasks associated with keeping track of what you have in stock. With our flexible and scalable solutions, you can track an infinite number of items and SKUs across multiple locations.
Additionally, our solution is designed to work with a wide range of businesses, from small businesses to enterprise companies. So whether you have a single store or are managing a global operation, we have the right solution for you.
For more information, please visit our website to request a demo or contact one of our experts today at (213) 738‐1010. We would be happy to discuss your specific needs and see how we can help you take your business to the next level.