Although 47% of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are gaining more confidence in the state of the economy, two daunting challenges business owners still face are revenue growth and profitability.

Sure, increased sales and improved customer relations are a big part of that equation. The heart of each of those services is in your warehouse. Poor cash flow and loss of profits can be traced back to outdated manual processes.  In fact, the lack of inventory tracking is one of the primary reasons businesses fail, according to the State of Small Business Report.

Don’t let your company become a statistic; stop committing these inventory tracking “fails.”

1. You use outdated spreadsheets to track inventory

Despite evolving technology, 46% of SMBs still use pen-and-paper spreadsheets, Excel, or there are still a few companies that don’t track inventory at all. Whether you are an established small business or a start-up, manual inventory tracking processes only lead to big-time problems.

Consider these facts:

  • Even the best typist will make one mistake every 300 keystrokes, the majority of which won’t be caught.
  • Errors in receiving processes or accounting errors, account for 15.3% of inventory loss.

People will make mistakes because they’re human. They get distracted, emotional, or just simply hit the wrong key once in a while. When you multiply those “simple” errors over thousands of products that move in and out of your warehouse over time, your business can spiral out of control. So there should be no question as to why your company is or isn’t growing at the rate you might like. Human error is costly, but human error can be drastically reduced or even eliminated through the implementation of a barcode inventory tracking system.

2. Inventory isn’t labeled with barcodes.

If you are not using barcodes for inventory tracking, valuable time and money is being wasted. Here’s why:

  • It simply takes too much time to input data. Whether it’s by handwriting data or keying information into a spreadsheet over and over. Not to mention, manual processes won’t keep your stock optimally organized in your warehouse. Items are more likely to get misplaced or lost, or broken when it’s hard for employees to figure out hand-written instructions or sort through piles of spreadsheets.
  • Insufficient inventory tracking is more costly than the upfront investment into a barcode system. Consider the amount of labor that is spent when warehouse workers essentially search aimlessly for products. In addition, you might think that 2D barcodes are too expensive for your small business. In fact, the price of 2D barcode scanners and barcode scanning solutions are quite affordable.

Think carefully about what will be most costly to your bottom line.  Consistently inefficient inventory processes that result in inventory loss or the investment into an inventory tracking system that will significantly reduce inventory issues across your business and quickly pay for itself.

3. You don’t have storage rules in your warehouse.

Are you currently struggling with a messy warehouse, with little to no rhyme or reason as to its organization? It’s a common and expensive problem when you do business without an inventory tracking system.

When you label products with barcodes, it ensures that you can easily track and store inventory. With accurately labeled merchandise, it’s much easier to identify items with a quick scan and compile them into designated areas. This, in turn, makes pick, pack, and ship processes easier and less time-consuming.

4. Mobile devices and/or hardware aren’t utilized.

In today’s market, it’s more important than ever to go mobile so you can monitor your business anytime, from any place. Many 2D barcode scanners connect to cell phones, mobile devices, and computers equipped with Bluetooth technology to wirelessly transmit data. Mobile devices are much less cumbersome for warehouse workers, allowing them to reach more items when not limited by cords. This technology also saves time because of the instant transmission of data into your system and eliminates a touch point in your process, with less chance of human error.

If consumer-grade mobile phones or tablets aren’t quite sturdy enough to stand up to your harsh warehouse environment,then rugged mobile devices may be a better fit for your needs. These devices are constructed with heavy-duty use in mind and will withstand extreme temperature fluctuations as well as the incontrovertible drops and spills.

5. Real-time reporting doesn’t happen.

The use of barcode technology not only eliminates most human error in your processes, it also connects your company’s future with its past.

The transition from your manual processes to an automated inventory tracking system can be seamless, with little to no downtime in your daily operations. Once you have all your data entered into the new system, you can start tracking seasonal trends, customer behavior, and other vital forecasting tools that will help you make more informed business decisions.

In addition, 2D barcode scanners will work with older 1D barcodes your suppliers or customers may still use. Conversely, 2D barcode scanners can also read newer 2D barcodes. This means your company can move forward without having to do another major update or demanding that suppliers or clients update their barcode systems.

Manual processes can’t provide real-time data you need at the time you need it most. Barcode inventory tracking offers you information that will help your business run efficiently and cost-effectively.

It’s never too late to redeem your old management style – by implementing an inventory management system that will give take your business in the direction you have been wanting it to go, and more quickly and surely than you thought possible.