Managing retail inventory is a huge responsibility and one that can have devastating repercussions if it’s not done correctly. Managers everywhere report that inventory management is one of their biggest concerns. The truth of the matter is that it is a huge, tedious job that no one really likes to do. It is almost impossible for one person to manage and it’s almost always necessary to delegate responsibilities in order to get the job done.

It may be surprising to find out that smaller retail stores and boutiques actually have a tougher time doing inventory than big department stores. This is generally because boutiques try to inventory everything at once with only one or two employees working on it. Department stores categorize everything, creating smaller and smaller categories, and then put one person in charge of a tiny section of the store. The employees are not overwhelmed and generally give an accurate count of the section that they are responsible for.

Boutiques and smaller retail stores should take the big department stores’ advice to heart. Delegate the responsibility by dividing your store into different categories and subcategories. Hire an inventory specialist team if you don’t have the employees or the time to do it right.

If you are having your employees take responsibility for each section, offer a reward for accuracy. If you have managers and supervisors, you may want to have them go in behind the lower level employee and double check. If you warn the first person that their count will be checked, they are less likely to make mistakes.

Consider doing your inventory counts outside of your regular business hours so that there aren’t customers there to distract the counters. This will also keep your boutique or retail store looking nice and neat when you’re making that all-important first impression on your customers. You may need to motivate the employees to show up when it is normally their time off. Many companies make inventory count participation mandatory.

You can make it mandatory, but you may risk losing employees that have other obligations, other jobs, college classes, or trips that were planned in advance. Instead, consider offering rewards, like bonus money for participating. Play music, order pizza, and make it fun. You could give people with accurate counts longer breaks or lunches during business hours, or even a deeper discount on their next purchase.

Make sure that everyone has equal responsibilities. People that finish first should help you get the store back in order. Have them straighten the clothing racks so that the store is ready for opening time. A messy clothing rack or window display can make a bad impression and negatively impact the effort that was put forth to accomplish this task outside of your business hours.

About the Author: John Garvey is on the staff of Only Garment Racks, a leading online source of clothing racks including garment racks. Find a high quality clothing rack or garment rack at