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Thread: do you display the stock count?

  1. #1

    do you display the stock count?

    Does anyone display the available inventory stock count for products?

    I recently switched from not allowing back-orders, to allowing them. I am considering displaying the inventory on hand, however, I have not done that to date because I keep a lean inventory.
    What do you think are the pros and cons of showing the actual count vs simply item is available or out of stock?

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by MelanieF View Post
    Does anyone display the available inventory stock count for products?

    I recently switched from not allowing back-orders, to allowing them. I am considering displaying the inventory on hand, however, I have not done that to date because I keep a lean inventory.
    What do you think are the pros and cons of showing the actual count vs simply item is available or out of stock?
    We do not show stock counts for the reason you mentioned (lean inventory) - we offer around 5,000 products overall but we use Lokad forecasting to predict demand and only keep the bare minimum of each item in stock (which in many cases is only 1 or 2 units). It didn't give me a warm & fuzzy to be showing how little inventory we keep in stock since it makes us look small ... which we are, but no need to broadcast that to customers and the competition

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by katherine View Post
    We do not show stock counts for the reason you mentioned (lean inventory) - we offer around 5,000 products overall but we use Lokad forecasting to predict demand and only keep the bare minimum of each item in stock (which in many cases is only 1 or 2 units).
    Does Lokad work for you? Is it worth the effort?

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by MelanieF View Post
    Does Lokad work for you? Is it worth the effort?
    For the 13 years before we started forecasting, we were pretty much flying by the seat of our pants - marking what was low on pick lists to determine what to reorder, only doing inventory counts at the end of the year for tax purposes, and ordering based more on gut feel and hitting price quantity breaks than anything else. That worked fine in the early years when we only had a few hundred SKUs and a handful of vendors, but not so much as the SKUs started numbering into the multiple thousands. We cut over to perpetual inventory, Quickbooks and Lokad forecasting at the same time in January 2016. It was a bit of a culture shock, but I think it was a good move. We were able to cut the inventory we carry by about 20% by doing things more scientifically. It definitely helps with knowing where to focus the inventory dollars and what to phase out.

    For the most part, the Lokad forecasting works well. It can get tripped up pretty easily - for example, we had a particular candle holder of which we typically kept about a dozen in stock. Last summer a restaurant in Europe took a shine to that item and special ordered a couple hundred of them. Our forecast for that item has been crazy high ever since even though I know that was a one-time occurrence. And there are always little things here & there that Lokad can't possibly know - e.g., that certain dried flowers and herbs are catch-as-catch-can and we have to scoop up as many as we can when we find them wholesale, that our suppliers won't ship beeswax sheets during winter months, or that I plan to send an email blast highlighting a certain set of items - those still require human intervention to adjust. There are also some things that I am not comfortable keeping at as low a level as Lokad recommends, but I just maintain a safety stock number in Quickbooks that I add to what Lokad comes up with for those inventory items so I can sleep at night :-) Conversely, when I add a brand new item to stock, Lokad pretty much always sets the starting forecast higher than I would expect (I tend to start low and buy more once the item proves itself out). I would guesstimate that I use about 85% of the Lokad forecast as-is and adjust about 15%.

    It took a while to get into a groove and come up with a process to export the sales & inventory data in Lokad formats, massage the Lokad output the way we need it, and get the results back into Quickbooks. I won't say the process we use is simple - it involves Volusion exports, Quickbooks, 2 MS Access databases, utilities to import & export Quickbooks data, Lokad itself, and Excel macros - but it works. To be fair, the basic data that Lokad requires is pretty minimal - the struggle for us came in getting it from various places and reformatting it. I run our forecasts about once a month, and the process takes me roughly 45 minutes from start to finish. Depending on how your sales and inventory data is stored and what you do with the forecast results, your process could be much faster & easier than ours.

    That is probably much more detail than you were looking for, but overall I do think it is worth the effort for my store. Lokad has a free trial and it is free indefinitely if your revenue is less than $450,000/year (we fall into that tier) so it is definitely worth checking out if you think it might be useful.

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