Preparing for Inventory Day

By Desiree O’Brien

Every person that has worked in retail knows about inventory day. It is one day of the year that every single product within a store is accounted for to have the correct inventory numbers recorded. This will allow for an accurate on-hand count to know how much product we own. The process in which inventory is taken is different for each company. The way in which Barnes & Noble College does inventory involves weeks of planning and preparation to allow the fastest possible time for a group of professionals to come and scan each product into their system. So, here is what my week has consisted of to get prepared for inventory next weekend:

  1. Flip all product to have the tag facing out so it can easily be scanned. This includes all products that are hanging, such as hundreds of keychains (as seen in the picture), stacks of clothing, boxed clothing, cups turned over, calculators sorted, notebooks organized and flipped, and textbooks prepared.IMG_6061
  2. Clip all tags to the outermost corner of hanging products. This means we take the hanging tag from inside the article of clothing and use a safety pin to clip it on the outside so the inventory specialist can come through and scan very quickly.
  3. Create barcodes for product that does not have one. Every piece of product MUST have a barcode. There is not option. If, on inventory day a product does not have one we are directed to stop what we are doing and create one right then and there. This slows the process so we create them before hand.
  4. Pre-count all products by UPC. This includes counting and recording every size for every silhouette.
  5. Re-count all products by UPC. Each product is counted at least three times in case any of the counts are wrong, we triple check.
  6. Keep all product inventory ready. We are a bit over one week away from inventory day so people will still be shopping and picking up product. Every day we just go through and fix the product they have moved or flipped around.

As you can see there are two reoccurring themes in these duties; precision and time. Time is of importance because the inventory specialists can come for only one day and on average it takes at least 6 hours for them to come in, complete the task, and get out. On some occasions it may take 10 hours and that is what we are trying to avoid. The longer it takes, the more tired people get and thus the more mistakes occur. Precision is just another aspect of ensuring inventory is taken in a timely manner. The more precise we are with bar codes and placing product in an easily accessible way, the easier it is for them to be scanned. It is a lot of work planning for inventory, but it is very worth it because on-hand inventory numbers are what prepares us to plan and place orders accordingly to achieve the maximum revenue possible for the next year.



  1. I worked in retail in high school and continue to work when I am home for breaks but have never had this experience. This is because the store I worked at was a very small boutique and we would check inventory often but because it was so small we did not have to prepare weeks in advance. Barnes and Nobel seems to have a very organized and precise way of dong this, while it may be a tedious task I image it is all very worth it in the end. This is good to read for anyone who wants to work in retail, there are many tasks as a retail worker but this task it a very important one.

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