The thought of managing inventory gives most people nightmares and cold sweats. But managing the ordering of promotional items, gifts or uniforms and ensuring that you are fully aware of the products that you already have in your organization (as well as those you need to bring in) is a necessary evil. The real question is: How do you manage your company’s promotional stock (in a way that will give you the least number of headaches!)?
Unfortunately, there is no magical answer that'll be perfect for every marketing manager. The answer to that question actually depends on you, your company and your company’s overarching goals – you can choose one inventory management solution that suits you, or use a combination of them. Whatever you do, make sure that it’s the best process for your company to keep track of order slips, signage, giveaways, promos, documents or information regarding your inventory. With that in mind, here are some of the ways you can manage your inventory:
Depending on the size of your company, you may want to consider hiring someone who specializes in inventory management to keep track of the different promotional items, uniforms or corporate gifts your company needs. They should manage what has been ordered, what needs to be ordered and what is in stock as well as any other admin duties associated with the management of these items (such as returns, changes to orders, making sure what has been received is right, and ensuring reporting is up to scratch).
Another fantastic way to keep track of your inventory is to measure your lead time (how long you have before you need to order products again) for each category of products that you order often. If you do this in the form of reports, knowing how long it takes for certain products to be delivered will be easy to track and plan for in the future. That way if you know that there is a lengthy lead time on branded uniforms, you know to ensure they are ordered well ahead of time.
You obviously don’t want to order in more products than you need (it’s pointless ordering exquisite corporate gifts and then storing them away only for them to gather dust, and it’s a huge waste of money), which is why keeping tabs on the items you have is important for inventory control. Work out what exactly the needs of your company are regarding promotional items, figure out which of them are not popular (and stop ordering these items) and think whether seasonal items are really worth ordering (branded sunglasses as an example). It’s best to document your tracking efforts when trying to keep tabs on your inventory and even your lead times.
If you are not sure how to track your inventory, there are two main routes: You can do this via old-school spreadsheets or specific inventory control programs. This will give you a more holistic picture of what is happening when it comes to which promotional items, gifts or uniforms you have in your inventory. If the technology route sounds like the way to go, it might be a good idea for your company to invest in some simple software that will help with inventory control. This kind of software allows you to customize it to suit your business’s needs.
Instead of hiring a full-time manager to look after your inventory, you have another option – to hire an external inventory consultant. They will be in charge of implementing new processes, tracking inventory, and overseeing ordering of promotional items.
Regardless of which route you take, it’s important to implement proper strategies to ensure that your inventory is well managed and that you are not leaking hundreds of dollars to promotional items, gifts or uniforms that sit in store rooms – which really isn’t ideal! There is another fabulous option which includes much of what we have discussed: open up an online company store. We at Proforma Durkee can help you set up your centralized online company store, which you can customize to suit your brand, making the process of inventory control totally headache-free.