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How To Do A Stock Take In 8 Simple Steps

How to do a stock take

Need to know what stock or equipment you have and where it is at work? Here are 8 simple steps to follow if you need to know how to do a stock take:

  1. Decide what needs to be counted
  2. Choose a counting method – by hand or using scanning devices
  3. Train anyone involved in the counting so everyone uses the same approach
  4. Do the count
  5. Compare the count to your records
  6. Update your records
  7. Repeat the process regularly by scheduling regular stock takes
  8. Audit stock takes to ensure accuracy


When it comes to business, accurate stock taking is essential for ensuring that everything runs smoothly. Whether you’re a small startup or a large corporation, stock takes can help to streamline operations and improve profits and there are a few ways you can run a stock take depending on the size and needs of your business.

The most important part is to be accurate and consistent in your methodology so that regardless of what you’re counting, you can track your inventory levels accurately over time.

In this article, we’ll go over the basics of stock taking including ways to keep track of inventory, identify errors in stock control, meet customer demand, and provide some tips on how to count effectively. 

What Is A Stock Take?

A stock take is a method of calculating the quantity and value of the inventory items in a business. This is usually done at regular intervals, such as monthly or yearly, in order to keep track of the amount of stock on hand. You can do a stock take manually or with the help of technology, but either way, the goal is to get an accurate count of everything of a specific item or the number of items that you have on hand.

This information is important for several reasons. First, the stock take can be used to determine the cost of goods sold, as well as to identify any missing or damaged items, it can help you keep track of your inventory levels and ensure that you have enough product on hand to meet customer demand.

For these reasons, whether you do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you, a stock take is a key part of running a successful business.

8 Steps To Stock Taking

3 checkboxes

Decide what needs to be counted

The first step in conducting a stock take is to decide on the scope of the inventory count. This will determine how often you need to count and how detailed your counts need to be and will vary depending on the size and type of business.

Generally, things that are included in stock stakes are physical items that are part of the stock. For example, you may decide to count staff equipment such as stationery, high viz jackets, or laptops, or it may be that you need to count up the number of products that you sell to customers to see if you have enough in stock to meet the demand.

Choose a counting method

Once you’ve decided what needs to be counted, you need to choose a counting method. This can be done by hand or using scanning devices, depending on the size of the inventory and the accuracy required.

If you have a small number of items to count, then it might be possible to do this by simply going through and physically counting each item one by one. This could work for things like stationery or laptops, but if you have a larger inventory, such as products in a store, then this method is likely to be too time-consuming and error-prone.

In this case, it would be better to use a scanning device, such as a barcode scanner, which can quickly and accurately count large numbers of items. This method is also more likely to give you an accurate count if you have a lot of different types of products, as you can easily scan the barcodes on each product as you go.

Once you’ve chosen your counting method, it’s a good idea to do a test count of a small number of items first. This will help to identify any potential problems with your chosen method and will give you an opportunity to practice and tweak the process you plan to use before you start the main count. This can be particularly useful if you have a very large amount of stock to count and want to ensure that you’re working as efficiently as possible.

Train anyone involved in the counting

If you’re going to be doing the stock take yourself, then you don’t need to worry about this step. If you have staff who will be helping with the stock take, it’s important to make sure that they are properly trained in how to do it so they can accurately count items and enter data into the system. This will ensure that everyone is using the same method and counting the same items in the same way, which will help to make the whole process more accurate.

Do the count

Once you’ve decided what needs to be counted, have gathered the right materials, and everyone involved knows what they’re doing, it’s time to do the count.

Materials needed may include a tally sheet for each inventory item, as well as any tools that will be needed to accurately count the stock. For example, a magnifying glass if counting small objects, clipboards, calculators, pens, paper and pencils, or a computer if entering directly into your electronic stock registers.

This can be a time-consuming process, so it’s important to make sure that you allow enough time to do it properly. Start by counting one type of inventory item at a time, and make sure to record the tally on the corresponding sheet. If possible, it is best to count with another person to help ensure accuracy.

Compare the count to your records

Once you’ve finished counting, it’s important to compare the results to your records. This will help you to identify any discrepancies and figure out where they might have come from. If there are a lot of discrepancies, it’s possible that there is an issue with your chosen counting method and you may need to consider changing it or your record-keeping for stock levels may need to be adjusted to ensure better accuracy going forward.

Update your records

After you’ve identified and resolved any discrepancies, it’s time to update your inventory records. This will ensure that your records are accurate and up-to-date, which is essential for effective stock management.

Repeat the process regularly

It’s a good idea to schedule regular stock taking sessions so that you can keep on top of your inventory levels and ensure that they’re accurate. This can be done daily, weekly, monthly, or at any other interval that makes sense for your business. As counting inventory can be disruptive to business operations, especially if you have a large amount of stock, it’s important to plan for it and schedule it in advance. The key is to find a schedule that works for you and stick to it as much as possible and combining stock take events with staff social events can be a great way to reward their hard work at the end of the day.

Audit stock takes

To ensure accuracy, it’s a good idea to audit the stock takes regularly. This will help you identify any errors or discrepancies so that you can adjust your methodology as needed and is particularly useful when relying on others to count inventory for you. This can be done by checking the count against sales records, or by conducting random spot checks during the count or between scheduled counts. By auditing stock takes, you can make sure that they’re accurate and that your inventory levels are being accurately tracked.

Electronic Stock Management

Lady scanning stock in warehouse

We know that stock management is a crucial part of any business but when your business grows and you have huge amounts of stock to keep track of, you may want to consider an electronic stock management system to reduce the time taken on manual counts.

Electronic stock management uses a computerised system that helps track inventory levels, sales, and customers. This system can be used to monitor the stock of products in a store or warehouse. It can also be used to keep track of customer orders and sales.

Whilst not for every business, using this type of system can help your businesses to save time and money by reducing the need for manual inventory counts and keeping track of customer orders. Additionally, the electronic stock management system can help businesses improve their customer service by providing accurate information about product availability. By using an electronic stock management system, businesses can streamline their operations and improve their bottom line.

Managing Your Stock Take Team

If you are in charge of managing a stock take team responsible for conducting a physical count of inventory, you will need excellent organisation skills, communication and people management skills.

As a stock take can be a stressful and time-consuming event for all involved, it is important that you can keep calm under pressure and offer support to your team where necessary. Taking this approach will help you to complete this important business event as efficiently and accurately as possible.

You should assign specific tasks or count areas to each team member and give a time frame in which to complete their workload. Consider pairing people up if you have enough manpower and don’t forget to schedule regular breaks to avoid fatigue and keep morale high.

Finally, after the stock take is complete, take some time to debrief with the team. Thank them for their hard work and use this opportunity to identify any areas where improvements can be made. By following these tips, you can ensure that your next stock take is even more of a success!

Improving Efficiency

Efficiency concept graphic

As stock taking can be a time-consuming task – whether done manually or electronically, one way to minimise the cost of stocktaking is to combine it with other business events.

For example, many businesses choose to do their stocktaking at the end of the financial year. This allows them to kill two birds with one stone by also completing their tax return at the same time.

Other businesses choose to do their stocktaking during their annual customer sales event which can help to boost sales and clear out old inventory. Another option is to combine the stock take with a marketing event that gives discounts to customers who purchase items during the stock take.

If your stock take is a big team effort, you could combine it with a staff event that brings more people to the head office or warehouse and then treat staff to a social evening or activity directly afterwards.

By combining the stock take with another event, you can make the most of your time and resources.


This article has shared tips and the process to follow for anyone wondering how to do a stock take.

To recap, you should focus on the importance of accuracy and organisation, scheduling regular stock takes and auditing to ensure accuracy, as well as proactively managing your stock take team. To aid efficiency, you may also like to consider using an electronic stock management system to help with inventory tracking. This can be useful if the size of your business makes keeping track of stock manually too time-consuming, and you could also try combining your stock take with other key business events.

A stock take is a vital part of running a successful business. By keeping track of your inventory levels by following the 8 steps outlined above, you can ensure that you have enough products on hand to meet customer demand and that you’re not overstocking items that aren’t selling. By conducting regular stock takes, you can also identify any missing or damaged items, and make sure that your cost of goods sold is accurate.



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