Written by One Step Retail Implementation Team

Many retailers schedule physical inventory counts at the end of each year as a regular routine. We know that performing a physical inventory can be challenging and time-consuming. Sometimes it requires closing stores for business, bringing in outside staff to help with counts, renting equipment, paying overtime and working long hours.

Preparation is the key to a successful physical inventory. One Step would like to help you prepare for a smooth physical inventory and we recommend you consider the following planning points to ensure your physical inventory is efficient and without issues.


  1. If you rent scanners from One Step, we suggest that you reserve the units as soon as possible. The end of the year is popular for physical inventories so our scanner schedule fills up very quickly.


  1. Because physical inventories are generally conducted only a few times per year, it is easy to forget details on how to perform one with your system. We recommend you schedule time with a One Step specialist for a walkthrough of all steps related to starting and completing your physical inventory at least two weeks before you perform the counts. This will ensure you are well prepared. Spending time with our specialists for an hour or two is a good investment if it saves you hours of work trying to scramble through a physical count without having to do double work.


  1. Test your scanners to be sure they are charged and that they hold a charge. Also, confirm that they scan your inventory items by spot checking different items from different inventory departments. Check that your scans sync properly to your system by uploading a sample test count.


  1. You’ll want to ensure inventory is not in transit between locations when you count. You should stop inter-store transfers at least 3 days before the start of the physical inventory in order to allow transferred items to reach their destination before the start of the physical count. If you are using transfer verification, finalize your match and update all transfers prior to starting the physical counts.


  1. Make sure all recently received merchandise has been entered into the system as received, and that it has been tagged with a barcode and is preferably out of the box ready to be counted. This will avoid unnecessary delays and confusion.


  1. When using Retail Pro or CounterPoint, if you have a multi-store environment, start a manual communication cycle to send any pending documents from corporate to store and vice versa. Confirm that the inventory counts at corporate and the store match before starting the physical. If they still do not match, initialize or force the inventory counts to match. Never start the physical inventory until the counts are matched between corporate and a store.


  1. When using Retail Pro or CounterPoint, take a snapshot of your inventory before you start your count. Print or export and save your on-hand reports at corporate and stores. This can aid in the analysis and reconciliation of any possible count issues that might arise.

Performing the Physical Inventory

  1. Do frequent downloads to guard against scanner failure and to make locating scanning errors easier.


  1. Print or export and save your error reports and attempt to resolve errors. Do not continue until all errors have been identified and fixed, or have the trouble items set aside for handling later after the normal counts are completed.


  1. Print or export and save your discrepancy reports and attempt to resolve all discrepancies. This is your opportunity to identify your over or shrink and work to resolve any discrepancies before you update your physical counts.


  1. Do not update your physical inventory until all items have been counted, errors corrected and any resolvable discrepancies have been resolved.


  1. When using Retail Pro or CounterPoint, after updating your physical inventory, you should conduct another manual communication cycle between corporate and store locations. Use this time to verify that the new inventory counts and on-hand quantities match once again.


  1. Print or export and save your on-hand reports at corporate and stores after your inventory is updated. This can aid in the analysis and reconciliation of any possible count issues that might arise.


  1. We recommend exporting your inventory on-hand reports to Excel or a comparable application in order to be able to sort your inventory data easily and as needed.


  1. Please call One Step if you’d like to schedule some physical inventory brush-up training before your physical inventory. We would be happy to help you prepare for this important event!


We wish you a wonderful physical inventory season!