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INTRODUCTION OF INVENTORY MANAGEMENT

As the cost of logistics increases retailers and manufacturers are looking to inventory management as a way to control costs. Inventory is a term used to describe unsold goods held for sale or raw materials awaiting manufacture. These items may be on the shelves of a store, in the backroom or in a warehouse mile away from the point of sale. In the case of manufacturing, they are typically kept at the factory. Any goods needed to keep things running beyond the next few hours are considered inventory. Inventory management simply means the methods you use to organize, store and replace inventory, to keep an adequate supply of goods while minimizing costs. Each location where goods are kept will require different methods of inventory management. Keeping an inventory, or stock of goods, is a necessity in retail. Customers often prefer to physically touch what they are considering purchasing, so you must have items on hand. In addition, most customers prefer to have it now, rather than wait for something to be ordered from a distributor. Every minute that is spent down because the supply of raw materials was interrupted costs the company unplanned expenses. DEFINITIONS OF INVENTORY MANAGEMENT 1. Involves a retailer seeking to acquire and maintain a proper merchandise assortment while ordering, shipping, handling, and related costs are kept in check. 2. Systems and processes that identify inventory requirements, set targets, provide replenishment techniques and report actual and projected inventory status. 3. Handles all functions related to the tracking and management of material. This would include the monitoring of material moved into and out of stockroom locations and the reconciling of the inventory balances. Also may include ABC analysis, lot tracking, cycle counting support etc.

IMPORTANCE OF INVENTORY
Inventory represents one of the most important assets that most businesses possess, because the turnover of inventory represents one of the primary sources of revenue generation and

subsequent earnings for the company's shareholders/owners. The word 'inventory' can refer to both the total amount of goods and the act of counting them. Many companies take an inventory of their supplies on a regular basis in order to avoid running out of popular items. Others take an inventory to insure the number of items ordered matches the actual number of items counted physically. Shortages or overages after an inventory can indicate a problem with theft or inaccurate accounting practices. Possessing a high amount of inventory for long periods of time is not usually good for a business because of inventory storage, obsolescence and spoilage costs. However,

possessing too little inventory isn't good either, because the business runs the risk of losing out on potential sales and potential market share as well. Restaurants and other retail businesses which take frequent inventories may use a 'par' system based on the results. The inventory itself may reveal 10 apples, 12 oranges and 8 bananas on the produce shelf, for example. The preferred number of each item is listed on a 'par sheet', a master list of all the items in the restaurant. If the par sheet calls for 20 apples, 15 oranges and 10 bananas, then the manager knows to place an order for 10 apples, 3 oranges and 2 bananas to reach the par number. This same principle holds true for any other retail business with a number of different product lines.

IMPORTANCE OF INVENTORY MANAGEMENT


1. COUNTING CURRENT STOCK All businesses must know what they have on hand and evaluate stock levels with respect to current and forecasted demands. You must know what you have in stock to ensure you can meet the demands of customers and production and to be sure you are ordering enough stock in the future. Counting is also important because it is the only way you will know if there is a problem with theft occurring at some point in the supply chain. When you become aware of such problems you can take steps to eliminate them. 2. CONTROLLING SUPPLY AND DEMAND Whenever possible, obtain a commitment from a customer for a purchase. In this way, you ensure that the items you order will not take space in your inventory for long. When this is not possible, you may be able to share responsibility for the cost of carrying goods with the salesperson, to ensure that an order placed actually results in a sale. You can also keep a list of goods that can easily be sold to another party, should a customer cancel. Such goods can be ordered without prior approval. Approval procedures should be arranged around several factors. You should set minimum and maximum quantities which your buyers can order without prior approval. This ensures that you are maximizing any volume discounts available through your vendors and preventing overordering of stock. It is also important to require pre-approval on goods with a high carrying cost. 3. KEEPING ACCURATE RECORDS Any time items arrive at or leave a warehouse, accurate paperwork should be kept, itemizing the goods. When inventory arrives, this is when you will find breakage or loss on the goods you ordered. Inventory leaving your warehouse must be counted to prevent loss between the warehouse and the point of sale. Even samples should be recorded, making the salesperson responsible for the goods until they are returned to the storage facility. Records should be processed quickly, at least in the same day that the withdrawal of stock occurred.

4. MANAGING EMPLOYEES Buyers are the employees who make stock purchases for your company. Reward systems should be set in place that encourage high levels of customer service and return on investment for the product lines the buyer manages. Warehouse employees should be educated on the costs of improper inventory management. Be sure they understand that the lower your profit margin, the more sales must be generated to make up for the lost goods. Incentive programs can help employees keep this in perspective. When they see a difference in their paychecks from poor inventory management, they are more likely to take precautions to prevent shrinkage. Each stock item in your warehouse or back room should have its own procedures for replenishing the supply. Find the best suppliers and storage location for each and record this information in official procedures that can easily be accessed by your employees. Inventory management should be a part of your overall strategic business plan. As the business climate evolves towards a green economy, businesses are looking for ways to leverage this trend as part of the big picture. This can mean reevaluating your supply chain and choosing products that are environmentally sound. It can also mean putting in place recycling procedures for packaging or other materials. In this way, inventory management is more than a means to control costs; it becomes a way to promote your business.

WHAT IS INVENTORY CONTROL?


Inventory consists of the goods and materials that a retail business holds for sale or a manufacturer keeps in raw materials for production. Inventory control is a means for maintaining the right level of supply and reducing loss to goods or materials before they become a finished product or are sold to the consumer. Inventory control is one of the greatest factors in a companys success or failure. This part of the supply chain has a great impact on the companys ability to manufacture goods for sale or to deliver customer satisfaction on orders of finished products. Proper inventory control will balance the customers need to secure products quickly with the business need to control warehousing costs. To manage inventory effectively, a business must have a firm understanding of demand, and cost of inventory UNCERTAINTY IN DEMAND Methods to control inventory can depend on the kinds of demand a business experiences. Derived demand, or the demand of raw materials for production and manufacture, can be met through calculations in manufacturing output, balanced with demand forecasts for a given product. Independent demand comes from consumer demand, making it more susceptible to market fluctuations and seasonal changes. By coordinating the supply chain businesses can reduce uncertainty in this area. Inventory costs are controlled through different models that will apply to varying products. Items that are in continuous supply benefit from the Economic Order Quantity model (EOQ). Products available for a limited period are best suited to News Vendor models.

INVENTORY COSTS There are three main types of cost in inventory. There are the costs to carry standard inventories and safety stock. Ordering and setup costs come into play as well. Finally, there are shortfall costs. A good inventory control system will balance carrying costs against shortfall costs. SAFETY STOCK Safety stock is comprised of the goods needed to be kept on hand to satisfy consumer demand. Because demand is constantly in flux, optimizing the Safety Stock levels is a challenge. However, demand fluctuations do not wholly dictate a companys ability to keep the right supply on hand most of the time. Companies can use statistical calculations to determine probabilities in demand. ORDERING COSTS Ordering costs have to do with placing orders, receiving and stowage. Transportation and invoice processing are also included. Information technology has proven itself useful in reducing these costs in many industries. If the business is in manufacturing, then to production setup costs are considered instead. THE COST OF SHORTFALLS Stockout or shortfall costs represent lost sales due to lack of supply for consumers. Sales departments prefer these numbers be kept low so that an ample stock will always be kept. Logistics managers prefer to err on the side of caution to reduce warehousing costs. Shortfall costs are avoided by keeping an ample safety stock on hand. This practice also increases customer satisfaction. However, this must be balanced with the cost to carry goods. The best way to manage stockout is to determine the acceptable level of customer service for the business. One can then balance the need for high satisfaction with the need to reduce inventory costs. Customer satisfaction must always be considered ahead of storage costs.

CYCLICAL COUNTING Many companies prefer to count inventory on a cyclical basis to avoid the need for shutting down operations while stock is counted. This means that a particular section of the warehouse or plant is counted physically at particular times, rather than counting all inventory at once. While this method may be less accurate than counting the whole, it is much more cost effective. Cyclical counting is preferred because it allows for operations to continue while inventory is taken. If not for this practice, a business would have to shut down while counts were taken, often requiring the hire of a third party or use of overtime employees. Cyclical counting usually utilizes the ABC rule, but there are other variations of this method that can be used. The ABC rule specifies that tracking 20 percent of inventory will control 80 percent of the cost to store the goods. Therefore, businesses concentrate more on the top 20 percent and counter other goods less frequently. Items are categorized based on three levels:

A Category: Top valued 20 percent of goods, whether by economic or demand value B Category: Midrange value items C Category: Cheaper items, rarely in demand

Warehouse staff can now schedule counting of inventories based on these categories. The A category is counted on a regular basis while B and C categories are counted only once a month or once a quarter.

FLOW MANAGEMENT Manufacturers are less likely to use cyclical counting and often rely on flow management, by analyzing cycle times in the manufacturing process. This involves calculating lead times for raw materials and the manufacture time in which the materials are used to create the product. By analyzing the time cycle, manufacturers learn when the optimal ordering times are for raw materials. SPECIAL CONCERNS FOR RETAIL Retail businesses have a greater risk of loss to goods than other businesses. They suffer from shrinkage due to employee and third party theft on a regular basis. Because of this, hiring practices play an important role in inventory control for these businesses. By screening potential employees for criminal records and drug use, retailers are able to reduce shrinkage.

STOCK KEEPING UNIT (SKU)


Warehouses are full of boxes and boxes of stock. These boxes are full of items that must be tracked using some system or method in order to keep up with them. One of the best ways to keep up with stock is to assign it a Stock Keeping Unit (SKU). An SKU is a number or code that is used to identify individual products and services which can be purchased. An SKU is a stock number used by businesses and merchants that allows them to track inventory and services from point of distribution to point of sale. SKU is a type of data management system. Each individual item or package is given a code either by the distributor or the business owner. There is an SKU code applied to every product, item, or other forms of goods that can be purchased by a customer. SKU are not necessarily assigned to just physical products. They also are used to identify services and fees. As some companies provide services, they use SKUs for billing. As an example, if a computer store repairs a customers computer; they use an SKU to determine what services were completed in order to fill out a bill for services rendered. All SKU tracking varies from business to business and according to regions and corporate data systems. SKU also varies from other product tracking systems due to manufacturer regulations or even government regulations.

HOW DOES SKU FUNCTION?

SKUs are typically printed as a barcode on a label somewhere on the product. This makes it easy and quick to find the products information by scanning it with a barcode reader. Every item and variant item has its own SKU. This means that slightly different models have different tracking codes which make it easier to keep up with the items. The first part of a SKU may contain the code for that type of product while the second part of the code may represent the color or style. Not only is the SKU given to an item, the same number is also used on the packaging. So if a box contains 12 widgets that all have the same SKU, then the box will also have the same SKU code. Retail stores generally track the individual items through their store while warehouses track the boxes. While pretty self-explanatory in a store, this can get tricky when ordering items online or through catalogs. Since the SKU represents the number of units in the item, you should read carefully to make sure you are ordering the desired quantity. In some cases, a quantity of 1 may mean one box full of a dozen separate products. The problem arises when you only need one product, not a dozen. SKU can also be used to determine how many sales occur at each separate location or where the inventory is stored. SKU can be used to track products through the supply chain as well as to use for inspecting sales data. SKU can tell if certain products sell better than other products. Another benefit of using SKU is with seasonal products that need to be updated every year. Some SKUs contain the year somewhere in the code. If product from the following year is going to be used in a new year, then the year in the code can be changed. This is useful for products that do not change from year to year. Luckily for distributors, there have been advances in computer software and systems that make the task of giving a product an SKU much easier. This new technology has made the task easier and more convenient, not to mention more accurate because it is free from human error.

INVENTORY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS


Look at any large successful retailer today and you will be astounded at the sheer numbers involved. Wal-Mart alone carries items manufactured in over 70 countries. The logistics of managing such an inventory is astounding. Other discount retailers like Wal-Mart are able to maintain low prices by using inventory management systems and sharing the information with store managers. The goal of inventory management systems is to ensure there is always enough supply to meet demand while keeping as little stock as possible. Selling out of a product causes damaged customer relations and lost sales. Large retailers can offset these problems by offering low costs to consumers, who will keep coming back even when a store is sometimes out of stock on items they regularly buy. Smaller businesses will have less success with this strategy as they are simply not capable of securing the same bulk discounts on goods that larger retailers benefit from. TRACKING IN INVENTORY MANAGEMENT Inventory is managed primarily through tracking. Systems are put in place that monitor sales, available supply, demand and market forecasts. Businesses must be able to communicate quickly and efficiently with suppliers and central offices to keep up with the every changing demand and availability of goods.

THE HUMAN ELEMENT

A good system does not make purchasing decisions directly, but allows employees to make good decisions based on information provided by the system. Such systems provide information such as demand forecasting, and warehouse supply information. Other benefits to a inventory management system allow for strategic planning, providing sales forecasts and procurement information on raw materials and finished goods. Some retailers avoid the need to manage inventory altogether by employing vendors to do the work. Product vendors visit a retail location, stocking and placing products. Store managers and vendors share information to maximize sales. This reciprocal arrangement is often ideal for both parties in that the retailer has no duty to track inventory and the vendor receives important feedback to use in marketing and product development. Bar Codes and Scanners Most businesses manage inventory through the use of bar codes and laser scanners. The barcodes represent a product identification that a computer recognizes when scanning the code. In this way, companies can count items as they come into the warehouse, are shipped off to the retailer and finally sold to a customer. This allows the retailer to know how much has come into the store, how much has been sold, and by extension, how much should remain on the shelves. This tells retailers which items are selling well and also alerts them when products need to be reordered. THE TRADE OFF Maintaining a backup supply of goods ensures you can always provide items to customers when they are desired, resulting in high customer satisfaction. Time is saved as well. Lags can occur at every point along the supply chain. Safety stock compensates for these delays be preventing disruptions in the flow of products from warehouse to retailer. As demand fluctuates, they can be sure a supply remains on hand. There are also cost savings in buying large lots, so businesses are well served to purchase extra inventory to keep as safety stock.

UPCOMING TECHNOLOGIES IN INVENTORY MANAGEMENT

In coming years, expect to see more automation in respect to product tracking through the use of RFID (radio frequency identification). This method uses a microchip to transmit the information about a product to a data collection source. Because radio waves travel in all directions, there is no need for a specific scanning point. This means a business can receive information about each item in a large shipment without ever opening the container. This will allow for greater flexibility in order consolidation and shipping for resellers. The method can also give specific location information to a store manager, allowing better theft protection for high-ticket items. Businesses can run into problems with RFID signals, which can interfere with each other and create inaccurate readings. Still, RFID is generally becoming accepted as superior to bar codes. Such devices allow for more efficiency, more compact storage of merchandise, and swifter movement of inventories through the business. All this drives down costs for everyone, both business and consumer alike. Heavy reliance on technology has its share of headaches. There are problems with computer crashes and software failures that can severely disrupt a companys ability to do business. Many large discount retailers are caught off guard by unpredicted surges in sales because they rely too heavily on inventory management systems instead of keeping safety stock. This results in lost sales. INVENTORY ACCOUNTING It is also important to look at the role of inventory management systems in inventory accounting. Businesses who do not keep safety stock have fewer assets on the books, limiting cash flow in the business. The big retailers who rely heavily on technology to manage inventory justify the lost sales with the savings in taxes. The level of reliance on technology in inventory management systems depends on the business. It is notable that this methodology is not widely used. While larger retailers have trended towards reducing or eliminating safety stock, other businesses have not adopted this model. They instead rely more on traditional methods of inventory management which include keeping a buffer stock on hand. This allows such companies to leverage the buffer stock as an asset in securing loans to increase cash flow.

INVENTORY ACCOUNTING
Inventory accounting is the method by which a business determines the value of assets both for financial statements and tax purposes. Inventory is comprised of fixed assets that are intended for sale or being used in production. The value of your inventory is determined by taking the value of the beginning inventory, adding the net cost of purchases, and then subtracting the cost of goods sold. This results in the ending inventory value. Retailers and manufacturers cannot expense the cost of goods sold until those goods have actually been sold. Until then, those items are counted as assets on the balance sheet. COMMON INVENTORY VALUATION METHODS The methods a company uses to value the costs of inventory have a direct effect on the business balance sheets, income statements and cash flows. Three methods are widely used to value such costs. They are First-In, First-Out (FIFO), Last-In First-Out (LIFO) and Average Cost. Inventory can be calculated based on the lesser of cost or market value. It can be applied to each item, each category or on a total basis. FIFO FIFO operates under the assumption that the first product that is put into inventory is also the first sold. An example of this in action can be made when we assume that a widget seller acquires 200 units on Monday for $1.00 per unit. The next day, he spots a good deal and gets 500 more for $.75 per unit. When valuing inventory under the FIFO method, the sale of 300 units on Wednesday would create a cost of goods sold of $275. That is, 200 units at $1.00 each and 100 units at $.75 each. In this way, the first 200 units on the income statement were valued higher. The remaining 400 widgets would be valued at $.75 each on the balance sheet in ending inventory.

LIFO

LIFO assumes instead that the last unit to reach inventory is the first sold. Using the same example, the income statement and balance sheet would instead show a cost of goods sold of $225 for the 300 units sold. The ending inventory on the balance sheet would be valued at $350 in assets. When this method is used on older inventories, the companys balance sheet can be greatly skewed. Consider the company that carries a large quantity of merchandise over a period of 10 years. This accounting method is now using 10-year-old information to value its assets. WEIGHTED AVERAGE Average Cost works out a weighted average for the cost of goods sold. It takes an average cost for all units available for sale during the accounting period and uses that as a basis for the cost of goods sold. To site our example again, we would calculate the cost of goods sold at [(200 x $1) + (500 x $.75)]/700, or $.821 each. The remaining 400 units would also be valued at this rate on the balance sheet in ending inventory. SPECIFIC IDENTIFICATION A less commonly used, but important method to valuation is called specific identification. This method is used for high-end items that are more easily tracked. In some cases, this method can be used for more common items, but less value is realized from this accounting method is such cases. This is because powerful and detailed tracking software is required to employ specific identification on large numbers of goods.

INFLATIONARY EFFECTS ON VALUATION

No matter how you look at it, you are still coming up with 700 widgets that cost you a total of $575. This would all be well and good if the value of money remained static. However, market conditions change causing inflationary changes. When this happens, your accounting method can have a strong impact on how healthy the business looks on income statements and balance sheets. The affects cash flow when businesses seek credit to pay for ongoing operations. RISING PRICES When prices are rising, using FIFO will show a greater value on the balance sheet, thereby increasing tax liabilities but also improving credit scores and the ability to borrow cash for ongoing operations. Older inventory is being used to determine the cost of goods sold and newer inventory is being used to report assets. LIFO decreases the value on the income statement, but can reduce the level of depreciation you are able to take on assets. This is good for taxes but bad for borrowing. Industries most likely to adopt LIFO are department stores and food retailers. The method is rarely used in defense or retail apparel. FALLING PRICES When prices are falling, the effect on FIFO and LIFO values is reversed. FIFO produces a lower income statement and higher balance sheet. LIFO produces a higher income statement and a lower balance sheet. In either case, Average costs falls somewhere between, while specific identification will give the most accurate and reliable results. It is important to understand that LIFO is only used widely in the United States. This valuation method is disallowed under International Financial Reporting Standards. When firms adopt LIFO, it is for the tax advantages during periods of high inflation. Once adopted however, switch back to FIFO during a period of market growth can be painful. The switch will create an artificially lower net income.

MAKING THE COMMITMENT

The problem with committing to either FIFO or LIFO is found in tax filing. Once a company uses one or the other on its tax filing, it must use the same method when reporting to shareholders. So using one method to a companys benefit on taxes can harm earnings per share. In either case, the companys financial statements must disclose the method used. It must also disclose the LIFO reserve, or the difference in value between what the inventory would have been worth under FIFO accounting. The method a company chooses does not necessarily have to reflect the actual flow of goods. The method chosen will be used for tax and accounting benefits and will rarely be based in reality.

WHAT IS DISTRESSED STOCK?


Distressed inventory is comprised of those goods or materials that have spoiled, become ruined, or are otherwise impossible to sell on the standard market. It can also be items in good condition

that have remained on the shelf too long, taking up valuable resources that could be used towards more profitable merchandise. Sometimes distressed inventory comes about due to overstock; other times, demand simply dries up. Distressed inventory is a serious threat to the livelihood of any business. THE COST OF DISTRESSED INVENTORY For many businesses, the cost to buy goods for sale or manufacture eclipses even the cost of labor. When inventory levels are allowed to grow beyond sales forecasts, margins are reduced because excess stock must be sold at discounted rates, resulting in lower margins. Stagnant inventory is a source of money a business cannot access when it may be most needed. This slows down a companys ability to maneuver in a competitive market. The money would be put to better use in purchasing the next high-margin product of the day. Beyond tying up dollars, unsold inventory declines in value over time, creating a double jeopardy. Not only is the business losing profits it could be securing, it is also losing monetary value on the product itself. This makes it harder to sell, forcing deeper discounts and lower margins. This is especially damaging if the inventory was purchased with a loan. Now it is also costing to company money in interest fees. PRODUCT LIFE CYCLES Every product stocked by a company has a life cycle. There will be increasing demand until a peak is reached and then the demand will subside. These trends may run along seasonal lines or simply be a one-time fad event. Once demand begins to ebb, huge mark downs are needed to keep sales going. The value of the merchandise can go down as much as 50% annually while it sits on the shelves taking up the space of cash that could be used to grow the business.

OCCURRENCE OF OVERSTOCKING

Overstocking comes from several sources, most of which are forces from within the company. This means the business can control overstocking through proper management. Market forces are only the cause of overstocking in a small percentage of cases. INTERNAL CAUSES OF OVERSTOCKING Various managers are encouraged to maximize inventory investments to paint a rosier picture on balance sheets. In addition, buyers look at the cost per unit, rather than paying attention to the bulk of the inventory. The more they buy, the cheaper they get it, making them look good at review time. Operations managers like to over-buy so that the production line will not come to a stall because the supply of a part has been depleted. Salesmen are ever-optimistic and will overbuy in anticipation of gains in sales and fears of running out of stock just when a big sale is being closed. The various motivations of these workers are well-intentioned, but they lose sight of the effects over-buying has on the companys bottom line. TRYING NEW ITEMS Market forces can also contribute to over stocking and dead inventory. The biggest culprit is often a new product that the business tries in an effort to find new sources of profit. Too often wholesalers try out new items based on a vendors recommendations without getting any assurances about what will happen to items that do not sell. When agreeing to try a new product, wholesalers should negotiate terms for the vendor to take back unsold merchandise at or near cost, within a specific time frame. A good target date is six to nine months after the wholesaler receives shipment of the stock. Another way to reduce the risk of dead inventory on new products is to search the market for smaller quantities of the item that can be tested to see how the sales will be. Even if the cost per unit is higher, the reduction in dead inventory will be well worth the extra cost.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT DEAD INVENTORY

Distressed or dead inventory is a problem for any company in the distribution business. While sooner or later every company must deal with this problem, any business caught in a cycle of over-buying must take measure to break the trend. This means ridding the business of distressed inventory, freeing up cash to purchase goods that will sell quickly and monitoring stock more closely in the future. Managers must be level-headed and sober in assessing the steps needed to liquidate the inventory. MARK DOWNS The most popular method for ridding the business of distressed inventory is to mark the goods down for quick sale. It is common for businesses to keep a regular practice of scheduled mark downs as long as particular products remain in inventory. Managers must be merciless in discounting merchandise to make it move quickly. While marking items down as much as 75% can be painful, the cost of keeping the goods is even more so. RETURNS In some cases, the company can communicate with distributors to request that they take back excess inventory. Proposals should be structured in a way that benefits the distributor, such as offering the merchandise in exchange for other merchandise that may sell better. In some cases, the company can communicate with distributors to request that they take back excess inventory. Proposals should be structured in a way that benefits the distributor, such as offering the merchandise in exchange for other merchandise that may sell better.

CHARITABLE DONATIONS

If all else fails, charitable donations are always an option. If goods have been drastically reduced and still remain on the shelves, a charitable donation allows the business to write the donation off on taxes. MONITORING STOCK Close monitoring of inventory levels is needed to keep them at healthy limits. Cycle counting should be done to maintain control of stock on a regular basis. This allows the business to spot problems before they cause serious financial concerns. In addition, strong inventory management systems should be kept in place that base purchase decisions on market forecasts and stock levels, not on the influence of salespeople or operations managers.

INVENTORY CREDIT

Inventory credit is the business practice of using a companys stock or inventory as collateral for a loan. Ost banks, especially in todays economy, are reluctant to issue unsecured loans, even to established companies with good credit. But inventory represents a companys physical assets and has cash value if liquidated. The concept of inventory credit started in ancient Rome with agriculture and merchant goods. One common product that uses inventory credit for financing and can be found in any grocery store is parmesan cheese from Italy. Inventory credit is also used for agricultural businesses in Latin American and Africa, manufacturing, and automobile dealers with a lot of money tied into their inventory. HOW INVENTORY CREDIT WORKS Before you can get a loan using inventory credit, you need a few things. Your business needs to have a good credit rating. This means it needs to be current with all bills and no outstanding accounts. The second thing needed to make a list, along with estimated value, of the inventory to be used. You also need to have a business plan worked out to pitch to the bank for the loan. Inventory values can fluctuate depending on the economy and the particular industry of the company. To make sure they do not lose money should inventory values plummet, banks usually only lend up to 60 percent of the total value of the inventory being used. Plus, physical inventory can be liquidated but you would not get the full value for it. The bank will inspect any inventory before they approve a loan. They will want to know exactly what they are loaning the money for and what kind of condition the collateral is in. If the loan is approved, the bank has the right to inspect the inventory at any time. When inventory is sold, it is up to the owner to keep track of it. A portion of the profits will need to go towards paying off the loan. Banks tend to frown on companies that borrow money based on inventory credit and then sell the inventory without paying off the loan.

In agriculture, inventory credit works a little different. The produce that is used for the loan has to be stored in a reliable and bonded warehouse by a third party. In agriculture, inventory credit

is used for imported produce, produce ready to be exported, and domestic products. The warehouse owner that stores the produce has to ensure that it remains in good condition and is secure. The agricultural company that borrows the money is charged a fee for the storage of the produce and to insure it against damage. This inventory credit process is used widely in Africa and parts of Asia WHEN SHOULD INVENTORY CREDIT BE USED? Inventory credit is not a practical means of financing for every business. It largely depends on the type of industry you are in as well as the current state of the economy. Businesses that should not use inventory credit are those will a low turnover rate for their inventory. This means that if your inventory sits there for a long time and cash flow from it is slow, you would be better off finding an alternative means of financing. Otherwise, you may have a difficult time paying back the loan. This is also true for inventory that is out of date, expired, or obsolete. Businesses that would benefit from an inventory credit loan would be those who have a high turnover rate for their inventory. If business is good and your company is moving a lot of inventory product but you still need more money in order to keep up with demand, then you should check out an inventory credit loan.

ECONOMIC ORDER QUANTITY

Economic Order Quantity is the calculating method used to determine the best level of inventory for production while being the most cost effective for holding and ordering. EOQ, as it is referred to, has been around since the rise of modern manufacturing processes back in the early 20th century. The first model for calculating EOQ was designed in 1913 by F.W. Harris. What EOQ basically does is determine the best point where the costs for inventory holding and ordering are at the lowest. This helps to determine the number of units of stock to order to resupply inventory without spending too much money on overstock. HOW DOES EOQ WORK? EOQ is not used in every type of business and industry. Most companies that deal with large volumes of stock use a form of EOQ. It is common in manufacturing where the ordering of stock is constant and repetitive. EOQ is primarily used for purchase-to-stock distributors and make-tostock manufacturers. These are businesses that have multiple orders, release dates for their products, and have to plan for their components. Another type of business that uses EOQ are those that have maintenance, repair, and operating inventory (or MRO). Businesses that have a steady demand for stock are the most suitable for EOQ applications but some seasonal items can benefit from the method, too.

HOW TO CALCULATE EOQ

Economic Order Quantity must be calculated using a mathematical equation. By using a set of numbers for production, demand, and a few other variables, a companys inventory costs can be minimizes. Here is the equation for EOQ:

The sub-components that make up the equation are as follows: Annual Usage This part is pretty self-explanatory. Based on units, a company simply enters the predicted annual usage amount. Order Cost This component is the sum of the fixed costs that occur every time an item is ordered. They are not associated with the quantity ordered, only with the actual physical act required to process the order. Also known as purchase cost or set up cost. Carrying Cost This part is the financial costs of carrying and storing inventory at or near the business. The amount is mostly made up of the costs associated with physically storing the inventory and the financial investment for the inventory. It is also referred to as holding cost. As long as the data used for the calculations is accurate, this formula is a good method for determining EOQ. Miscalculations such as exaggerated costs are common mistakes. If a

company only uses the data from purchasing and receiving, or from product storage and handling, the calculations will yield very high numbers. Sometimes the goals of a company do not meet the product of the EOQ calculations. When this happens, company leaders and executives usually ignore the EOQ calculations. The EOQ formula is not absolute and can be modified slightly from its original form. It can be used to determine many things such as production levels and lengths of time between orders. IMPLEMENTING EOQ

There are two main methods to implement EOQ in a business. It is assumed before you do that the data for costs have already been gathered. The first method is to use a spreadsheet and manually enter the quantity one at a time onto the inventory sheet. While simple, this can be very time-consuming. It also works best for companies that deal with smaller amounts of inventory. If the company in question has a large inventory, say more than several thousand units, then you will have to use the EOQ software along with your existing inventory system. This method will calculate it at a much quicker rate and save money on manpower and resources. The second method you can use is to download company data to a spreadsheet. Once the calculations are finished, you can upload them to your inventory system manually or with a batch program. Either way will work. To make sure that the EOQ you are using for your company is running efficiently, there are some things you can do. The first is to run a test on the model. This should be done before the EOQ model is finalized to make sure it is accurate and no glitches are involved. The best way to test it is to run the method on a sample batch of items. Afterwards, manually check the results to make sure they match the models final numbers. Adjust the EOQ formula if needed. By running tests, you can determine how the method will work on inventory storage and ordering costs. Try to look at a long term plan if possible. Small changes may not be readily apparent with the model and may only become noticeable over time. To reach the best inventory level, the EOQ model may need to be slightly adjusted.