Stockroom Nightmares: 5 Reasons Why Excel is bad for Your Stock Control

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It’s 2AM and your eyes pop open, your heart is pounding, and you have sweaty palms. It was another nightmare, the same one you’ve been having for weeks, an order comes in and you just don’t know where the item is or if you even have it in stock. Your customer insists they need an answer right away or they will take their business elsewhere, but you just don’t have an answer for them. As you close your eyes you reassure yourself it was just a dream, but you know that call could actually happen tomorrow when you get to the office.

You’re a small business owner working with a tight budget and a lean team. You have to carefully allocate your resources to make sure your business can turn a profit, and you aren’t sure if investing in stock control software is the best way to spend your money. You aren’t alone – according to the State of Small Business Report, 46% of SMB’s with 11-500 employees don’t currently track stock or are currently using a manual process such as Excel to track stock numbers.

If you think stock control management isn’t a crucial investment, heed the advice of Marcus Lemonis, the star of CNBC’s The Profit, “Bad inventory management can bankrupt your business.” And if that isn’t enough, keep in mind that according to Michael Ames’ book, Small Business Management, one of the main reasons small businesses fail is due to poor stock management.

“Bad inventory management can bankrupt your business.”


Excel may seem like a logical solution for stock control management when first starting your small business. You already own and use it, you know Excel well, so does your current stock manager, and changing processes will disrupt business and add new costs. But change can be good, and when it comes to an effective stock control system, investing in state of the art stock control software is just the change you need. Instead of the nightly stockroom nightmare, you will be living the stockroom dream.

5 Reasons Using Excel Is Hurting Your Stock Control

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1. Mistakes are easily made and hard to catch– entering stock data manually leads to errors. Paul Huffaker, vice-president of Racesource, explains, “Maintaining an accurate inventory count in Excel was time consuming and error ridden. Often I would reorder or manufacture parts I already had simply

because I didn’t know I had them, which was an unnecessary cost.”

2. Excel can’t provide up to the minute real-time, stock data – in the nightmare scenario customers are lost because you can’t provide an answer right away. Using Excel means stock data must be entered at fixed times and is out-of-sync with your actual stock count. As Sid Helms, Director of IT at Diversified Distribution told Entrepreneur.com, you can never be sure if something has changed between when it was entered and when you check your spreadsheet.

3. It is harder to track historical trends and make informed forecasts for future needs – Forecasting is an essential part of stock management. With an Excel-based system, tracking stock turns and seasonality can be virtually impossible, and this can lead to empty shelves and disappointed customers or excess stock of items that just aren’t selling. With accurate forecasting you can make more informed decisions about how to allocate your company’s resources without having them tied up in unnecessary stock.

4. Excel workbooks limit user access and increase the risk of fraud – Your company probably has more than one person dealing with stock along its route from warehouse to customer, but using Excel means only one employee can update information at a time. This is both inefficient and increases the risk of employee fraud by increasing one employee’s control over stock management information.

5. Excel wastes your employees’ time and your money – Excel-based stock tracking systems require employees to manually count stock items and enter the data into a spreadsheet.  The process also often involves using a printed count sheet, since stock is generally stored at various locations and not the office.  After data is recorded on a count sheet, it must then be transcribed into the spreadsheet. This duplicated effort wastes valuable time and can increase employee stress, and time is money and happier employees are more productive.

The Benefits of a Automated Stock Control System

Switching to a sophisticated stock control system may seem expensive and intimidating, but companies that make the switch are almost always pleased with the results.  Consider the switch to effective and sophisticated stock control software. It will protect your business and your peace of mind – you can end the stock control nightmare and start living the stock control dream.

How does your company track stock and are you experiencing any of the manual tracking issues we’ve discussed in this post?  Please leave us a comment — we’d love to hear about your experiences tracking stock, both the good and the bad.

Jason Sentell

Jason Sentell

Product Marketing Manager at Wasp Barcode
Jason Sentell is a Product Marketing Manager, responsible for development and execution of Wasp's product marketing strategy.
Jason Sentell
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