You don’t just send a group of people into your store and have them start counting stuff until they’re done. You need a plan.
Every good plan starts with a Map. First your store is broken up into Areas. For example, in a smaller store each gondola and wall might be its own separate Area. In a larger store, there may be end caps; one row of end caps would be one Area. In a grocery store there may be a line of coffin coolers, which, combined, would be one Area. Then those Areas would be broken up into Sections, typically 4-8 feet wide. Counting a Section would be done left to right, shelf by shelf from top to bottom.
Perhaps you need totals by Department or Category, especially in a Grocery or Convenience store. This is where things can get interesting, because you may have items from one Department located throughout the store. A number would be assigned to each Department, and this would be communicated to the crew to ensure they capture each item under the correct Department.
Next: prepare the store(s). If you sell shirts & britches, pull out the tags so that they are visible and easy to scan. If it’s a Grocery store, items on the shelves should be pushed and “blocked back” to the rear of the shelving for ease of counting. What this means is, if you’re going to stack any items, stack in back so that the counter can more easily see all of the units. Don’t overstock the sales floor; it will only make the process slower and less accurate. And make sure everything is priced, either with shelf tags or prices on individual items.
Before everyone is unleashed, there should be a pre-inventory briefing to discuss the counting procedures, remind everyone of safety concerns and address any questions. During that briefing, discuss the flow of the inventory. Who starts where, and where to do they move on to from there. Slower, more tedious areas may need to be tackled early so that their completion doesn’t delay the end of the count.
Keep these four key factors in mind when gearing up for inventory day and you should have a smooth, much more efficient and accurate count.