There comes a time of the year that those working in the retail industry do not look forward to. No, I’m not talking about the build up to the Christmas period, but rather the dreaded stock take, which can be described as a task which needs to be completed annually or in some cases biannually in order to identify areas where a company is performing well in terms of sales, and conversely areas that can be improved upon or perhaps removed from sale if necessary.

In my case, the company I currently work for is a budget supermarket chain which has several stores all over the UK and sells a wide range of items in various departments ranging from food and drink to furniture. I have worked for them on three separate occasions totalling in excess of 5 years, and so throughout the duration of my employment I have come to be largely familiar with the aspects involved in stock taking. The store is required to complete a stock take twice a year with dates set well in advance to ensure maximum staff attendance. This enables the stock take to be completed as efficiently as possible. So essentially, the quicker the task is completed, the earlier staff may go home. The actual conducting of the stock take requires hours of preparation in order for the process to run smoothly, with arrangements delegated to a member of the management team who on the day of the stock take is responsible for keeping track of the areas of the store that have been counted and scanned.

What is required of staff members is that they are each given a sheet of paper which lists their assigned sections of the store and they are then expected to first of all locate the first section which is done by assigning a number to the relevant section, which can be checked off the member of management’s notepad which comprises of all the numbers of the sections that need to be counted. Once located, the staff member then signs their name at the beginning of the section and begins counting the stock which according to the rules, must be done from left to right starting in the top left hand corner, once an item of stock has been counted, the number of that particular item on the shelf must be written down and placed in front of the item so those who scan the count onto the system know how many of each item there are on the shelf. Each section contains three bays of stock and once counting of the section has been done, this can be signed off by the staff member who then informs the member of management the section has been counted and is now ready to be scanned onto the system. This process is then repeated until all sections of the store have been counted, checked off on the notepad and scanned into the system. However, checks are in place to randomly recount an item on a section to ensure the correct number on the shelf has been counted, and if the number is incorrect the section may need to be recounted to ensure accuracy. Once all sections have been completed, the clean up operation begins with staff members having to clean up any bits of paper/rubbish littering the shop floor, and ensure that the stock on the shelves is faced up in order for the store to be prepared and in a presentable condition for the following day’s trade.

Today’s blog post has provided an insight into the processes involved within stock taking in my current workplace, and whilst processes differ depending on the type of business, the message that can be taken is that despite the task being somewhat tedious and repetitive, it is an essential part of working in a retail based environment to ensure maximum profits are being made. Additionally, it is appropriate to underline the importance of team work, as this in turn means that the stock take can be completed as efficiently, effectively and accurately as possible.