10 Tips for Inventory Management
For many publishers, managing inventory is a method of trial and error. While computers can analyze sales data, deciding how many books to print at the outset and when to reprint is often based on instinct and knowledge gained from having been around the block in the industry. Some executives, however, rely on both computers and know-how to keep more precise tabs on their inventory. As one expert told Book Business, inventory management is not an art or a science, but a mix of both. Here are 10 tips that offer the best of both worlds.
1. Capture your sales data and analyze it—regularly.
Inventory control is concerned with the accuracy of inventory counts. Material control relates to the quality of the inventory. A publisher must understand both. Publishers must make decisions regarding how much inventory they want to keep on-hand and how much profit they want/need to make on each book.
“The next step is to create the systems to capture as much information as possible and analyze this information in a number of ways,” explains Bob Liss, vice president of operations and administration, Berrett-Koehler Publishers in San Francisco, Calif., which publishes nonfiction books in many subject areas, including human resources, personal development, leadership, business ethics and economics. “It’s not enough to look at average monthly or yearly sales,” says Liss. “What if 80 percent of your sales came from a single order? What if sales were high for the first three months of the year and then fell off, or vice versa?”
2. Keep tabs on your customers.
Encourage your salespeople to stay in constant contact with the customer to see how a book is performing in the marketplace. Anticipate customers’ needs and listen to them. “Good customer feedback is key,” says Marcus Leaver, executive vice president, chief operating officer, Sterling Publishing Co., New York, N.Y.