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Inventory Accuracy: The Ultimate Guide for 2024

1.5 minutes

In this article, we highlight what inventory accuracy means, why it matters and how to calculate it. We also cover potential issues to look out for and share our process to improve it. Read on to learn more.

inventory accuracy

What Is Inventory Accuracy? 

Inventory accuracy refers to the precision and correctness of a company's recorded inventory levels compared to the actual physical inventory. It is the foundation of effective inventory management. 

Example: "AutoParts Express" recorded having 2,000 brake pads in their warehouse, but upon conducting an actual inventory audit, they discovered only 1,800 brake pads on hand. This 10% disparity in inventory accuracy can lead to delays in fulfilling customer orders and increased carrying costs for the company.

Why Is Inventory Accuracy Important?

Maintaining precise inventory accuracy is important. Here are some key reasons why:

Streamlined Operations: Accurate inventory ensures smooth day-to-day operations.

Cost Control: Helps minimize carrying costs and reduces overstock or understock issues.

Customer Satisfaction: Ensures products are available when customers need them.

Data-Driven Decisions: Supports informed decision-making in purchasing and production.

Financial Reporting: Accurate inventory data is vital for financial statements.

Supplier Relationships: Enhances supplier relationships by minimizing errors and delays.

what is inventory accuracy

How To Calculate Inventory Accuracy

To calculate inventory accuracy, you can use the following formula:

Inventory Accuracy (%) = (Actual Inventory / Recorded Inventory) x 100

This formula measures how close your recorded inventory levels are to the actual physical inventory, expressed as a percentage. 

A good inventory accuracy rate typically falls within the 95-99% range. This means that the recorded inventory should be within 1-5% of the actual physical inventory.

Challenges in Achieving Inventory Accuracy

Ensuring precise inventory accuracy can pose certain challenges. It's essential to be aware of potential issues that may arise, including:

Human Error: Inaccuracies often arise from human factors, including mistakes in manually entering data or miscounting physical inventory during audits, creating discrepancies in recorded and actual stock levels.

Data Silos: When critical inventory information is trapped in separate systems that don't sync, it becomes difficult to maintain a real-time and accurate view of inventory, leading to errors in stock management.

Demand Variability: Sudden shifts in customer demand, whether due to seasonal trends or unexpected market changes, challenge inventory accuracy by requiring rapid adjustments that may not always be precise.

Supplier Reliability: Delays or inaccuracies in supplier shipments can disrupt inventory management, causing shortages or overstock issues that affect the recorded accuracy of available stock.

Obsolete Stock: Properly accounting for and disposing of outdated or unsellable items, such as expired goods or discontinued products, can be intricate, potentially skewing inventory accuracy.

Theft and Shrinkage: Internal and external losses, including employee theft and shoplifting, result in unrecorded reductions in inventory, undermining accuracy and profitability tracking.

how to calculate inventory accuracy

How to Improve Inventory Accuracy

To effectively improve your inventory accuracy, consider following our step-by-step strategy below for a start:

Step 1: Regular Audits

Conduct frequent physical counts of your inventory, comparing them carefully to what you have recorded in your records. When you find differences, investigate why they happened and make necessary changes to keep your records accurate.

Example: During a routine audit, FoodCo, a grocery store chain, discovered that it had 95 cases of canned soup in stock instead of the recorded 100. Consequently, they promptly adjusted their records to accurately reflect this count.

Step 2: Invest in Technology

Invest in modern inventory management software that not only lets you track inventory in real-time but also does a lot of the data entry work for you. This software keeps all your inventory information in one place and reduces the chance of mistakes.

Example: After implementing the "Inventory Pro" software, Widget World Ltd. saw a significant reduction in data entry errors. For instance, the system consistently matched the actual count of 200 smartphones in stock.

Step 3: Training

Make sure your employees are well-trained in how to enter data accurately and handle inventory properly. Employees who know what they're doing are less likely to make mistakes, which means better accuracy in managing inventory.

Example: Following thorough training, PharmaSupply, a pharmaceutical distributor, observed that their employees consistently applied correct procedures. Consequently, the recorded quantity of 50 vials of medication accurately matched the actual stock.

Step 4: Demand Forecasting

Use historical sales data and advanced analysis to predict how much of a product you'll need in the future. This helps you plan your inventory better and adjust it when you expect changes in what customers want.

Example: Utilizing historical sales data, Fashion Trends, a clothing retailer, accurately forecasted the need for 500 pairs of shoes, avoiding both overstocking and running out of popular sizes.

Step 5: Supplier Collaboration

Build strong relationships with your suppliers, so you can talk openly and work closely with them. Good communication and cooperation with suppliers reduce the chances of late or incorrect deliveries that could mess up your inventory.

Example: Through effective collaboration, Tech Gadgets Inc., an electronics manufacturer, ensured that their trusted supplier consistently delivered the 1,000 microchips on time and as specified, maintaining inventory accuracy.

Step 6: ABC Analysis

Sort your inventory into categories based on how valuable they are and how quickly they sell. This helps you focus your resources on managing the most important inventory accurately.

Example: By focusing on A-class items, such as high-value jewelry pieces, Luxe Jewelers, a luxury retail brand, ensured precise management and accuracy in handling these critical inventory items.

Example: TechWare

TechWare, a leading electronics retailer, aims to enhance inventory accuracy to streamline operations and improve customer satisfaction due to their extensive product range and fluctuating demand. To achieve this, they implement our step-by-step process:

Step 1: Regular Auditing

TechWare conducts weekly physical counts to spot discrepancies promptly. For instance, a recent audit revealed that they had 3% fewer laptops in stock than their records indicated. This discrepancy amounted to 150 laptops, enabling necessary corrections.

Step 2: Investing in Technology

Advanced inventory management software with real-time tracking and automation minimizes manual errors. The software recently detected a pricing issue on 100 OLED TVs, averting a potential $5,000 revenue loss.

Step 3: Training Staff

Emphasis on staff training reduced human errors. For instance, a recent training program led to a 50% drop in mislabeling errors on high-value smartphones. Before the training, there were 20 mislabeling errors per week, and after the training, it decreased to 10 errors per week.

Step 4: Demand Forecasting

By leveraging historical data and analytics for precise inventory planning and adjustments, TechWare prevented a $20,000 stockout of gaming consoles during peak demand.

Step 5: Collaborating with Suppliers

TechWare's improved supplier relationships led to a 25% decrease in delivery discrepancies. Previously, they encountered 40 discrepancies monthly, which reduced to 30 after collaboration, resulting in significant time and resource savings.

Step 6: Conducting ABC Analysis

Through ABC analysis, TechWare prioritizes inventory items based on their value and turnover rate. For instance, by focusing on their A-class inventory items, they improved accuracy and efficiency in handling their top 20% of high-value products, resulting in a 15% reduction in stockouts for these items.

These practices not only boost inventory accuracy but also improve efficiency and customer satisfaction, positioning TechWare competitively in the electronics retail market.

We hope this article has given you a better understanding of what inventory accuracy is and how to achieve it.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our article on funny inventory memes or our article on inventory replenishment.

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