Prepare for a full-store physical inventory

A physical inventory count is completed once a year. Every salable product is counted, regardless of location (e.g. sales floor, back stock, warehouse, etc.). Physical inventory counts are performed by store section, not by category. This method ensures no products are missed during the count.

While your store is closed for a physical inventory count:

  • Do not allow customers to drop off products for work orders or returns.
  • Do not process sales, layaways, or work orders.
  • Scan all products currently for sale (on the sales floor or in backstock).
  • Do not scan:
    a. Items on layaway transactions.
    b. Items on work order transactions.
    c. Unreceived orders.
    d. Non-inventory items (e.g. miscellaneous hardware for repairs).
    e. (multi-store retailers) Pending transfer items.

One Month Before

Determine the date of your physical inventory count. When choosing the date, consider the following:

a.      Plan to close your store. Close on the slowest day of the week. Use Ascend's Sales > Sales by Day of Week report to help you determine the best day for closing.

b.      Expect your physical inventory count to take a full day. Schedule your employees accordingly.

Inform your employees and customers of your inventory count date. Display the date prominently (e.g. on your website and voicemail, and on signs throughout the store).

If you require additional inventory scanners for your inventory, reserve the required number of rental units from Ascend support.

Reduce your inventory as much as possible. Only order necessary products. Use the Inventory > Aged Inventory by Date report to view a list of products that are not selling through.

Familiarize your staff with full process to be followed on the actual date of your inventory count.

a.      Read through our knowledge base articles.

b.      Complete our training modules.

Audit your product labels. A product label audit reduces the time spent addressing unscannable product labels on the day of inventory.

One Week Before

Run the Remove Duplicate Products utility. Resolving duplicate SKUs and UPCs ensures that each product in your store is labeled with a unique SKU or UPC.

Sherpa tip

Duplicate products cannot be reconciled in your system. Resolve these issues ahead of time to minimize time spent addressing product issues on the day of inventory.

Use the Category Mapper utility to address products currently in inventory which are not assigned to a category.

Run the Inventory > Inventory with Cost Greater Than MSRP report and remedy any products configured with an invalid cost.

Obtain your inventory supplies:

a.      Masking tape for marking store sections.

b.      Paper for labeling store sections.

c.      Markers for labeling store sections.

d.      Highlighters for tracking items to investigate.

e.      Containers to hold items not recognized by the inventory scanners.

f.        High-quality scale for counting small parts.

Assign the roles employees will assume on your inventory date.

a.      Product Investigator(s)

                                i.            Adds missing product to Ascend.

                              ii.            Re-labels products which cannot be scanned.

                            iii.            Investigates count discrepancies.

b.      Inventory Point Person

                                i.            Inventory scanner preparation.

                              ii.            Saves scan files to the computer.

                            iii.            Reconciles the count with Ascend (accepting final count 

                 iv.      Your point person should be extremely comfortable with Ascend.

Sherpa tip

For multi-store retailers, if possible, have a single point person go between all locations to assist with inventory to help things go smoothly (and consistently!) across all your stores.

c.      Counters

                                i.            Physically counts items.

                              ii.            Keeps track of completed sections.

d.      Scanners

                                i.            Scans products with the inventory scanners.

Ensure employees have the appropriate user permissions for their roles.

Designate a workstation where count results will be stored. This is your 'Inventory Command Center' and should be located at a central PC that will be used to take data off the scanner(s) after each section is scanned.

Verify the following programs are installed on the designated computer for count results.

a.      Windows Mobile Device Center (to obtain the latest version of this program, contact Ascend support)

b.      Microsoft® Excel, or a similar spreadsheet program

Consider pre-counting large quantities of small parts that are sold very infrequently (e.g. spokes, CO2 cartridges, bearings) using a high-quality scale.Sherpa Tip: Clearly label pre-counted product as such. If any pre-counted products are sold prior to your inventory, ensure that the labeled quantity is updated accordingly.

a.      Weigh one item. Write down the weight.

b.      Weigh all items. Write down the weight.

c.      If weighing items in a container, weigh the empty container. Write down the weight.

d.      If necessary, subtract the recorded container weight from the recorded weight of all items. Write down the adjusted weight.

e.      Divide the adjusted weight of all items by the weight of one item, e.g. 100 (all items) divided by 25 (single item) equals 4 (quantity of all items).

f.        Record the calculated quantity.

Two Days Before

Verify an SD memory card is installed in the inventory scanner:

a.      MC1000 model: 2 GB standard only.

b.      MC2180 model: Up to 32 GB microSD.

Fully charge inventory scanner and, if available, spare batteries. Check the battery life indicator on the device.

Complete pending warranties.

Halt order receiving.

(multi-store retailers) Verify all pending transfers are resolved. Halt transfers between stores until your physical inventory count is complete.

Create a Section Status Checklist. Use this checklist to record which store sections are complete. Include the following columns:

a.      Section Number

b.      Section Description

c.      Scanner Name (initials)

d.      Section Complete (Y/N).

e.      Scan Count

f.        Physical Count

g.      Physical Counter Name (initials)

One Day Before

Create a specific folder for storing your physical inventory count files.

a.      From the Windows® Desktop, right-click in a blank area.

b.      From the displayed menu, select New > Folder.

c.      Enter a descriptive name, e.g. Physical Inventory - <YYYY>.

d.      On the keyboard, press [Enter].

Organize products for ease of scanning.

a.      Label bin and display items. Or, place these items in boxes with scannable barcodes.

c.      Move hard to reach to items within easy reach.

d.      Turn items so that barcodes face front.

Using tape, section off your store into small areas for scanning. Be sure to divide the store into sections that can be scanned easily. Physically label each section with a number. Don't include bikes and accessories in the same section(s).

Sherpa tip

An average store has 80-150 sections.

Print our your Section Status Checklist and fill out with a description or location for each section. Then tape the list to the counter of the 'Inventory Command Center' to be filled out as sections are scanned.


Designate a 'Mystery' Bin for items that do not scan and will need to be investigated. 

Verify your inventory scanner is configured with Ascend's recommended settings.

Segregate the following items from the inventory count:

a.      Items on layaway transactions

b.      Items on work order transactions

c.      Items waiting to be received

d.      (multi-store retailers) Unresolved transfer items

After close of business, back up your Ascend system.

Additional Resources

Video: Physical Inventory Prep

Article: Full-store inventory scanning process

Article: Import scan files from my inventory scanner

Article: Analyze inventory scan results

Article: Resolve discrepancies in my inventory counts

Article: Reconcile my inventory

Trek University Video: Inventory Management

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