3 Ways to Simplify Cycle Counts

Cycle counts are your key to achieving efficiency, ensuring accurate stock levels, and smooth operations. But let’s face it: traditional cycle counts can be a time-consuming, error-prone headache.

As a busy ecommerce seller, you know the feeling: orders are flying out the door, your inbox is overflowing, and every minute can be spent doing five other things. With all of this going on, staying on top of your inventory feels like a constant battle. However, when you imagine scrambling to fulfill an order, only to discover the item is out of stock because your cycle count wasn’t accurate, having accurate inventory becomes the priority. Until the next thing flies across your desk.

If you find yourself struggling with manual data entry, misplaced items, and inconsistent results, you’re not alone. Luckily, there’s a smarter, faster and more accurate way to handle cycle counts.

Read more: 3 Ways to Simplify Cycle Counts

How might you get through counting and tracking hundreds or thousands of products within your warehouse, you ask? With a barcoding system and workflow within your warehouse. It will allow you to automate the process, eliminate errors, and free up your valuable time to focus on what matters most – growing your business!

There is. Introducing the power of barcoding for your ecommerce inventory. Say goodbye to tedious counts and hello to a streamlined, accurate system that empowers you to manage your inventory like a pro. Keep reading to discover how it can transform your cycle counts and take your business to the next level.

1. Strategize Your Cycle Counts

A smart cycle count strategy can drastically boost efficiency, saving you time, money, and stress. Think of it like organizing your closet: you wouldn’t clean everything every week, right? Instead, you prioritize based on frequency of use. In the same way that a variety of picking methods helps to streamline sales order fulfillment, you can apply a similar approach to cycle counts:

  • Single order picking: Counts for frequently picked items might need to be done weekly, for example
  • Wave picking: Group similar items for picking, allowing less frequent but broader counts
  • Batch picking: Count entire batch locations less often, depending on item turnover

Conducting an ABC analysis further refines your strategy by evaluating and categorizing the flow of stock in your warehouse. Categorize items based on value and turnover:

  • A items: High-value, fast-moving – count more frequently (weekly/monthly)
  • B items: Moderate value/turnover – count quarterly
  • C items: Low value/turnover – count bi-annually or annually

A study by the Aberdeen Group found that companies implementing ABC classification saw a 20% reduction in inventory costs and a 10% improvement in customer service levels. 

As you can see, planning is key. Proactively scheduling counts based on these factors creates a flexible yet focused calendar. Consider incorporating buffer days for unexpected hiccups. Don’t forget seasonality and supply chain factors; adjust counts for periods of high demand or longer delivery timelines.

By planning strategically, you can:

  • Reduce overall counting time: Focus on critical items, avoiding unnecessary counts
  • Increase resource allocation: Schedule counts when staff is available, maximizing efficiency
  • Improve accuracy: Frequent counts for key items catch discrepancies faster

Remember, strategy is an ongoing process. Regularly review your plan, adapting it to changing business needs and inventory dynamics. With Finale’s built-in tools, you can prioritize high-value items, utilize picking methods, and implement ABC classification for a focused and efficient approach.

Now that you have a strategy laid out, let’s explore how technology can further enhance your cycle counts.

2. Use a Barcoding System

Manual cycle counts are often error-prone and create a mountain of paperwork. “Is that a 2? or a 7? Is that a 5 or an 8?” Plus, when more SKUs get added, the more likely you are to end up with miscounts and inefficiencies in your inventory. Fortunately, barcoding not only expedites this process but improves the accuracy of it. 

Upgrade your manual processes. Gone are the days of scribbling on clipboards and squinting at blurry handwritten numbers. With a barcode scanner in hand, you can effortlessly capture item IDs and rapidly count the number of each item in each sublocation; eliminating human error and increasing data accuracy by leaps and bounds. Think scanning instead of scribbling; minutes saved instead of hours lost.

Finale offers mobile barcode scanning integrated with an inventory management system (IMS)-which streamlines things even further. What’s the difference?

  • Stationary scanners: Ideal for fixed locations like receiving and packing stations, stationary scanners provide a reliable solution for efficient item processing.
  • Mobile barcoding: With mobile scanners, you can untether your inventory management. Move freely throughout your warehouse, conducting cycle counts and managing inventory on the go. This flexibility empowers your team to work efficiently, regardless of location.

Speaking of mobile barcoding, let’s dive into the benefits (and necessity) of mobility in your warehouse.

It should come as no surprise in today’s age that mobility is everything. Imagine scanning items directly on the go, capturing data instantly, and streamlining the entire process – all from your trusty tablet or smartphone. That’s what mobile barcoding can do for your next cycle count. 

  • Leverage portability. Ditch stationary workstations and navigate your warehouse freely. Access inventory details and scan barcodes wherever your inventory resides, saving valuable time and effort. No more running back and forth to update spreadsheets or warehouse team members hogging stations – mobile barcoding technology empowers your team to dynamically manage inventory and order tasks throughout your warehouse.
  • Instant data capture, faster workflows. Mobile barcoding means faster cycle counts. From increased speed and capacity of counting, itself, to eliminating longer QA/QC processes, mobile barcoding means more efficient workflows and less “down time” to do the count.
  • Reenforcing warehouse best practices. Don’t underestimate how important it is for your warehouse workers to know what products are located in what area of your warehouse. With a mobile barcode system, you can split your team up into different areas of the warehouse and alternate their zones in future count cycles. This will increase your team’s familiarity, to make day-to-day picking, stocking, etc. easier, more accurate and more efficient.

Leading manufacturers and retailers are leveraging mobile technology to transform their cycle counts. Businesses using mobile solutions for cycle counts experienced a 35% reduction in counting time compared to manual methods.

Embrace diverse barcode systems. Not all barcodes are created equal. Explore the various options available to fit your needs, like UPC, QR or EAN codes, as different barcode types are suitable for different applications. Consult with Finale Inventory’s team to determine the best option for your specific inventory and environment.

A comprehensive barcode solution helps businesses manage and track inventory more efficiently than ever. Finale Inventory offers recommended barcode scanners, custom barcode labels, and multi-user scanning for effortless data capture and improved accuracy.

3. Use an Integrated System

Imagine juggling multiple systems, manually transferring cycle count data between your warehouse system, to your inventory system, and then to your ales channels. Sounds tedious, right? But what if all your systems spoke the same language, seamlessly sharing information in real time? That’s the power of an integrated system – and it’s a game-changer for cycle counts.

Leverage built-in automation. Replacing manual processes with an integrated IMS and WMS automates tasks like generating cycle count lists, assigning counts to specific users, and tracking completion progress. This eliminates time-consuming paperwork, minimizes human error, and streamlines the entire counting process.

Enhance data accuracy and visibility. An integrated inventory system ensures real-time data synchronization. Changes made during cycle counts are instantly reflected in your inventory records, eliminating discrepancies and providing accurate stock levels across all departments, warehouses and sales channels.

Streamline workflow and collaboration. With an integrated data platform, sku count levels flow seamlessly. Teams can access and update information in real-time, fostering collaboration and allowing for faster identification and resolution of any variance discrepancies.

Gain data-driven insights. Integrated systems provide valuable insights into your inventory performance. Analyze cycle count data to identify trends, optimize inventory placement, and adjust counting schedules based on product turnover and risk factors.

Transform Your Cycle Counts

Remember: your strategic cycle count plan, barcoding choices, and your integrated inventory system all work together. This unified approach is the key to achieving truly efficient and accurate cycle counts, ultimately boosting overall inventory management and business success.

Ready to transform your cycle counts? Take the first step today! Connect with our experts to discuss your specific needs and receive personalized recommendations for optimizing your cycle counts with Finale.


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