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10 Tips in Managing Inventory Shelves

Shelf inventory management is one of the foundations of retail stores and should never be ignored.

Inventory management is crucial in any retail environment. In truth, it’s one of the most fundamental aspects of owning or managing a retail store. This is a big reason why those who neglect proper inventory management usually face conflict and fail to make a profit. Retailers need to know how to handle the flow of products from suppliers and manufacturers, customer demands, and the status of inventory shelves.

Why is shelf inventory management important?

Shelf inventory management is the process of overseeing and controlling the stock levels and organization of products displayed on store shelves. It involves tasks such as stocking shelves with new inventory, maintaining adequate stock levels to meet customer demand, rotating products, conducting audits and becoming familiar with product information, optimizing store and shelf layout, and more.


Shelf inventory management is important for several reasons, including:


  • Optimal product availability
  • Prevention of stockouts and overstocking
  • Maximized sales opportunities
  • Improved customer experience
  • Reduced shrinkage and loss
  • Better operational efficiency
  • Data-driven decision-making
  • Better brand image and reputation


Retailers who take their shelf inventory seriously will be able to maintain a competitive advantage, gain customer loyalty and satisfaction, and achieve long-term success.

Tips for managing inventory shelves

Managing inventory shelves in retail effectively is significant for maintaining organized, efficient, and profitable operations. Without it, retail stores will fall apart one way or another. Here are some tips every retailer should know:


  1. Conduct regular audits
  2. Implement FIFO stock rotation
  3. Determine safety stock
  4. Create a process for deadstock
  5. Go for an optimal shelf layout
  6. Establish a process for purchasing and stocking
  7. Create a returns procedure
  8. Establish good supplier relationships
  9. Listen to customer feedback
  10. Invest in and use ESL for shelf inventory management


1. Conduct regular audits

Schedule audits regularly, depending on the size and volume of your inventory. This could be daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. This will allow retailers to take a good look and get a better picture of where their inventory stands. 

Use barcode scanners or dedicated inventory management software to facilitate the audit process and minimize any human error that might occur. You should also train staff members to conduct these audits accurately and use technology efficiently. This will help ensure they follow standardized procedures.


2. Implement FIFO stock rotation

The FIFO inventory method is a popular and well-used method when it comes to inventory shelving systems and stock rotation. FIFO refers to “first in, first out”, where the older or previous stock is prioritized in inventory and shelf displays.

Implementing the FIFO method helps ensure that older inventory is sold before newer stock.

Train staff members to rotate stock effectively and to use this method. It’s also recommended to always check expiration dates and product conditions during the process, so as to make sure you can prioritize items closer to their expiration.

You can also use labeling or signage to indicate the order in which products should be sold or restocked.


3. Determine safety stock

Retailers should also determine appropriate safety stock levels based on factors such as lead times, demand variability, and supply chain reliability. Safety stock is the extra inventory retailers hold to prevent stockouts in case of unexpected issues and conflicts.

Regularly review safety stock levels and adjust them as needed to align with changing business conditions or sales forecasts. This might also be beneficial when it comes to seasonal changes that might show higher consumer demands. Make sure to monitor inventory turnover rates as well to ensure that safety stock levels are neither too high nor too low. This will help retailers keep up with demand and continue to deliver goods to people even in the event of issues.


4. Create a process for deadstock

Deadstock is any leftover item in a retail store that remains unsold or unused for a certain amount of time. This is usually the result of overstocking, damaged goods, inaccurate demand forecasts, order cancellations, or delivery delays. If not handled properly, deadstock can reduce profitability and disrupt inventory shelves.

Retailers need to create an efficient deadstock process that will help them handle deadstock storage properly. Retailers should know to return damaged items to suppliers, sell leftovers to outlets, donate or recycle other leftover merchandise, put items on sale and offer discounts, or offer them as gifts. Depending on different situations, you will need to have a plan in place to help your store handle dead inventory.


5. Go for an optimal shelf layout

An optimal shelf layout is also needed on inventory shelves. Arrange products on shelves in a logical and visually appealing manner to facilitate browsing, maximize sales, and enhance order picking or stocking. 

Use adjustable shelving to accommodate different product sizes and variations as well. Monitoring customer behavior is also crucial to adjust shelf layouts based on feedback and sales data.


6. Establish a process for purchasing and stocking

Having a clear and organized process for purchasing and stocking is also necessary if retailers want to have efficient inventory management. It’s recommended to schedule times for placing orders and checking sales and inventory data. Some inventory management systems can also send alerts and reorder for you, streamlining the purchasing and stocking processes.

Seasons and trends should also be accounted for when it comes to purchasing inventory. This is because some seasons or events will impact consumer demands and sales forecasts. This can include holiday seasons, sports events, and more. It’s best to be prepared.


7. Create a returns procedure

A good returns procedure also matters for every retail store. Order returns can lead to unsold merchandise, which can lead to significant deadstock inventory and reduced profits. You need to create a system in place for order returns, including examining the item for any damage or defect, determining if it should be sent back to the supplier or the retail shelf displays, or writing it off. A procedure like this will help retailers handle order returns more efficiently, preventing any unsold merchandise or waste.


8. Establish good supplier relationships

Having good, healthy relationships with various suppliers can also impact the management of inventory shelves. This is because suppliers are a retailer’s direct source of products and offerings. 

To build a good supplier relationship, establish open lines of communication with suppliers to facilitate collaboration and information sharing. Negotiate favorable terms with suppliers, such as discounts, flexible payment terms, and reliable delivery schedules. You can also build trust and rapport with suppliers through regular meetings, feedback sessions, and performance evaluations.


9. Listen to customer feedback

Customer feedback is also key when it comes to managing inventory shelves. Solicit feedback from customers through surveys, suggestion boxes, or even social media channels. Make sure to actively listen to customer concerns and suggestions regarding product availability, assortment, and product display or presentation. You can use this customer feedback to identify areas for improvement and implement changes to enhance inventory and stocking processes and the overall shopping experience.


10. Invest in the use of ESL for shelf inventory management

Electronic shelf labels, or ESL, can also be used to streamline inventory and create a proper inventory shelving system for any retail environment. Using ESL for shelf inventory management can lead to various benefits for a retailer, including increased sales opportunities, significant time savings, reduced errors, and better operations management.

SOLUM ESL, in particular, is known to be a well-rounded retail solution that will enhance procedures beyond inventory management. In fact, it can enhance the entire retail experience for both retailers and customers. This is because SOLUM ESL is equipped with various features that work together to create an efficient workflow and retail operations. This includes a 7-page capacity, 7-color LED indicator, programmable buttons, wide size variations, near-field communication (NFC) capability, and its label management system. Once the electronic labels are in place, they can improve the shopping experience for the customers, giving clear and accurate prices and product information. For retailers, the ESL can integrate with the inventory management system, enhance the order-picking process, reduce manual labor and time, save paper waste, and give more opportunities for other important tasks instead of redundant tasks. The ESLs can even help in creating smart shelves, which can help elevate retail shelves and inventory.


Managing inventory shelves takes a lot of effort, wise decisions, preventive measures, and the right technology. By implementing these strategies and paying close attention to detail, you can optimize inventory shelf management in your retail store, and achieve increased efficiency, reduced costs, and higher customer satisfaction.


Do you need to transform your inventory shelves and improve your retail operations? SOLUM ESL might be the retail technology you need. Talk to SOLUM experts now and find out how this solution can contribute to your retail store’s inventory and shopping experience.

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