If cash is the lifeblood of any produce business, then inventory is the backbone. Just as one needs to keep cash flowing smoothly through a business to grow, a business’ inventory also needs to be put in order. This becomes even more true in the case of fresh produce businesses.
Considering how many lots go throughout the supply chain daily, keeping your inventory organized as a fresh produce distributor can be quite the challenge. In this article, we share a few simple tips to help improve inventory management as a fresh produce business owner.
1. Take inventory often
To effectively organize any inventory, it’s important that your wares are up to date. Therefore, it’s important to take inventory as often as possible. Carry out inventory counts frequently for accurate data on stock and to stay in the know on how much produce you have.
You could do this the old-fashioned way (with pen and paper), or you could employ the use of more effective digital inventory management systems like Silo.
Make sure you always keep track of new produce coming into your business and know what’s going out. Always update your inventory whenever this happens to ensure that your records and what you actually have in stock are tallied every time.
2. Organize your stock
Simply utilizing a great inventory management system is not enough to keep your inventory organized. After all, what good is having that great inventory management system if the stock you’re trying to manage isn’t even organized in the first place? Even with you knowing exactly what you have in store and how much of it you have left, a disorganized store would still make finding things stressful and annoying.
So always keep your stock organized. Labeling is crucial here. It’s also helpful to have items in stock organized in such a way that ensures different kinds of produce are separated by type. This makes it easy to find a given item at any time and to keep track of how much each type of produce you have, plus which ones require restocking.
3. Use labels
As stated above, labeling is crucial, and if you’re going to keep your fresh produce inventory organized, you need to use it. Not only does it help keep your stock organized, but it’s also necessary for carrying out important inventory management practices like lot tracking.
Label every container in your store, detailing what they contain and when they were brought in. This not only helps you take note of all the items you have available, but it also helps you know which perishables are closer to spoiling and which are still very fresh. This becomes especially important if you utilize the old pen-and-paper inventory management method.
4. Use a produce inventory management software
When it comes to managing inventory, digital inventory management systems are your best bet. These solutions simplify the inventory process, providing an easy and efficient way to take stock of products that a business has. Furthermore, these software solutions provide real-time information, letting you know what products need replenishing and which ones you have an abundance of.
That being said, when it comes to managing an inventory of fresh produce, nothing does the job better than inventory management software designed specifically for the industry. These software platforms are industry-specific solutions, providing the most efficient solutions possible for your field. They also provide accurate market data, which helps you make informed decisions on when to buy or sell.
5. Train your staff
Your staff can either make your attempt at organizing your inventory a success, or they can be the reason it fails woefully. No matter how much effort is put into managing your inventory, if your staff are not properly trained on how to take stock or make use of any inventory management solution, they’ll ruin your efforts. So why take those chances in the first place?
Train every staff member you employ on proper inventory management practices. One bad fruit can spoil the entire bunch, just as one untrained staff can spoil all your efforts.
Training your workers should include everything from how to properly label new supplies to how to track lots. They should know the overall store arrangement and where the different kinds of produce belong. They should also be trained on how to properly use any inventory management solution your business employs.
This is not to say you can’t choose to have a designated staff to handle such activities, but it helps to have everyone know the rudiments. This ensures that everyone on the team is aware of the dos and don’ts and that no one keeps making mistakes that ends up affecting your business’ inventory.
Keeping your inventory organized as a produce business owner is a practice you would come to find greatly beneficial. Investing in produce inventory management solutions is a great way to make this happen.
When organizing your inventory, remember your store needs to be just as organized for your inventory management practices to really be effective. Ensuring that any employees you have working with you are also adequately trained on how to handle your business’s inventory can also help ensure your inventory stays organized for longer.