Inventory is the backbone of any store. Effective inventory management is key to running smoothly and maximizing sales. A fundamental question may cross your mind: who is responsible for inventory control? Many people play a role in inventory control and it can be difficult to know who should take responsibility!

The answer is that stores often hire an inventory manager to oversee inventory control. Inventory control requires some essential knowledge as well as specific skills to be effective.

Inventory control is usually the responsibility of several people within an organization and it depends on the size and nature of the store. In large stores, inventory control is managed by an entire team, while in smaller stores, inventory control tasks are performed by one person, often the owner or an inventory manager.

Inventory control is the process of managing and tracking store inventory. It includes tracking, organizing and optimizing the flow of goods in the store.

The purpose of inventory control is to maintain a balance between supply and demand. Inventory control is essential to maintain optimal inventory quality. Many inventory control systems exist to help you achieve this goal. Click here to learn more about some of these systems.

The Inventory Manager

Generally, it is the inventory manager who oversees all aspects of inventory control in small or large stores. Their mission is to meet customer demands while minimizing costs and optimizing the efficiency of operations. Ownership of these tasks varies in each store, but often the inventory manager must:

Track Inventory

To create reports, meet customer needs, and know when it’s time to order new merchandise from vendors, it’s important that someone in the store keeps track of inventory levels.

The inventory manager must accurately track inventory and record inventory levels as well as the location and status of items. They must conduct inventory audits regularly to ensure that the physical inventory matches with the amount recorded in the system.

They must also ensure that they can follow each product, no matter where it is in the store. To find out the best way to manage inventory, check out this article.

Monitor and Analyze Demand

The inventory manager tracks and analyzes demand, consumer behaviors, market trends, and other factors to better predict inventory levels and adjust them accordingly.

Predict Inventory Needs

Based on current market trends, sales forecasts, data and other relevant factors, the inventory manager should predict inventory needs and plan for it.

He analyzes the data to determine the optimal level of inventory to have and to establish storage and replenishment strategies.

Manage Suppliers

The inventory manager must also evaluate suppliers and make sure to obtain the most competitive prices for the merchandise. In some stores, they are responsible for finding suppliers for the products and equipment needed for the store’s success and profitability.

To do this, they must work in collaboration with suppliers to maintain good business relationships and ensure the delivery of goods at the right time. They must also know the other suppliers in the region who would be willing to supply the store at a better price.

They collaborate with suppliers to optimize the delivery of orders. They are also responsible for evaluating suppliers to ensure that they are still able to supply the store within a reasonable period of time.

Choose When to Reorder Items and How Many 

The inventory manager must determine the reorder point, which is the inventory level at which a new order to suppliers must be made to fill the inventory before it is empty.

The inventory manager is responsible for ordering the right quantity of merchandise at the right time.

To optimize the point of replenishment and the quantities to be ordered, they must consider factors such as the delivery time and the variation in demand.

Purchase New Merchandise

In bigger stores, the purchasing department is often responsible for purchasing new merchandise and negotiating and signing contracts.

In smaller stores, this task falls to the inventory manager. They must know at all times what is left and what will soon be missing. When the products run out, they must order from a supplier and negotiate the price and the delivery time.

The inventory manager must also know if there is excess inventory and deal with this problem when it arises. See here what deadstock is and how to manage it.

Optimize Inventory

The inventory manager must constantly analyze inventory performance and implement strategies to optimize inventory levels, turnover and warehousing costs. They identify products that are taking longer to sell and obsolete products. They implement measures to reduce overstocks and identify ways to improve inventory management and save money.

Do Reports and Analysis

The inventory manager manages the documentation concerning the inventory. They must accurately record all kinds of information about the goods such as product name, quantity, type and code. They must have an excellent understanding of what is available for sale and what is not, because employees need to know at all times where, when and how to reach any inventory item, including raw materials, packaging and ready-to-sell products.

The inventory manager generates reports and analyzes key performance indicators related to inventory. These reports include:

  • Stock-out rates.
  • The filling rate.
  • Inventory turnover rate.
  • Storage costs.
  • A measure of the accuracy of demand forecasts. 

These reports are used to make informed decisions to improve inventory management.

The documents prepared by the inventory manager help the store to avoid losses, because this person always has a running count of the inventory. These documents are helpful for the marketing team and for determining strategies to effectively sell inventory.

Lead a Team

Bigger stores often have a dedicated inventory management team. The inventory manager therefore has the task of supervising, planning and coordinating the daily activities related to inventory management. They ensure that employees maintain a high level of performance to achieve goals. The training of new employees and the transmission of procedures and good practices are also part of the tasks of the inventory manager.

The inventory manager is mainly responsible for inventory control and they are essential in the store to manage inventory, but they do not do it alone. Other people are involved in inventory management, whether in small stores with a few employees or in large companies with dozens or even hundreds of employees.

All of the tasks mentioned are commonly done by the inventory manager, but sometimes some of these tasks fall to other people in the store.

Inventory Control in Small Stores

Individuals in these stores often have multiple roles in the store that cover all kinds of aspects of the business like marketing, sales, inventory management, etc. The following people may be in charge of inventory control:

Owner, President & Manager

In many small stores, the manager or owner themselves are responsible for inventory control. Among their duties are forecasting demand, placing orders, monitoring inventory levels and making any decisions regarding inventory and replenishment.

The owner has the option of performing inventory control themselves, as they have first-hand knowledge of the store and the inventory and are therefore the right person (or the only person) to manage the inventory efficiently.

How often do stores take inventory? Find out here.

Sales or Operations Manager

The operations manager is designated in some small stores to oversee inventory control. This role can also be given to someone who manages the functional and logistical aspects of the store.

Administrative Staff

In the case of a store with an office employee or an accountant, inventory control is sometimes entrusted to them. They are then the ones who carry out the tasks of tracking inventory entries and exits, keeping the registers up to date and producing inventory reports on a regular basis.

Inventory Manager

Some stores hire a dedicated inventory management person or a small team who only handles inventory-related tasks like tracking, receiving, stocking, and checking inventory levels. These individuals work with other store employees and suppliers to ensure effective inventory control.

Inventory Control in Department Stores

When the store increases its sales and revenue, then it becomes necessary to hire more specialized people and manage the inventory in a more structured and efficient way. Here are examples of people responsible for inventory control in department stores:

Procurement/Purchasing Department

This department is responsible for the supply of the necessary items. They work with suppliers to ensure delivery when the store needs it. They negotiate contracts and maintain professional relationships with vendors. They provide information on delivery time, order quantities, and other aspects of inventory control.

Logistics/Warehouse Manager

The warehouse manager usually manages physical warehousing, inventory movements, and inventory organization in the warehouse or distribution center. They ensure the receiving of orders as well as the packaging and shipping of products ordered by customers. They do audits regularly to make sure that what is really in inventory matches with what is supposed to be.

Sales and Marketing Teams

Sales and marketing teams provide important information for demand forecasting. They share market trends, customer feedback, discounts and upcoming campaigns. They have all the information that could influence inventory and supply planning and communicate it to the inventory manager and other people responsible for inventory-related tasks.

Finance or Accounting Department

These departments are responsible for the financial side of inventory control. They track the costs of merchandise, inventory turnover rates. They analyze the financial impacts of inventory-related decisions and strategies.

IT Support

Inventory control is often done using technology (software) and linked to other systems in the store. An IT support team is essential to implement and maintain the hardware and software used for inventory control. This team ensures that the software tracks inventory levels without error and that it works properly on its own and with other integrated systems.

Skills for Good Inventory Control

Whether you have a large store with a dedicated inventory management team or you manage the inventory of the store you own yourself, inventory control requires certain skills. Here are some of the essential skills that the people responsible for inventory control must have for optimal inventory control:


To obtain the best purchase prices, guarantee appropriate delivery times and optimize purchasing and storage conditions, the inventory manager must know how to negotiate with suppliers and collaborate effectively with other departments of the store.

The inventory manager must inevitably negotiate with suppliers to obtain the best possible purchasing conditions. Good negotiation leads to price reductions, discounts or favorable payment terms. This significantly impacts the profitability of the store!

It is also sometimes necessary to negotiate faster or more flexible delivery times with suppliers. Negotiation results in delivery agreements that meet store needs, minimizing the risk of shortages or delays in supply.

If the store sells products on consignment, the inventory manager should negotiate storage conditions with suppliers. This negotiation is about, for example, agreements on storage capacities, security conditions, return policies and the procedure in the event of unsold items. With good negotiating skills, the inventory manager ensures that storage conditions are optimal to preserve product quality and minimize storage costs.

Wondering about the difference between consignment and traditional inventory? Find the difference between the two here!

To ensure that inventory needs and inventory capacity are understood and factored into overall store decisions, it is sometimes necessary for the inventory manager to discuss with other store departments (sales, finances) on topics such as sales forecasts and raw material requirements.

Organizational Skills

Organizational skills are essential for effective inventory management. An inventory manager manages and controls several elements simultaneously such as inventory levels, inputs and outputs and the use of available resources. They must follow stock movements and know where the products are, whether they are in the warehouse, in the store or in transit.

Adequate organization makes it possible to quickly locate products, match deliveries and orders, minimize errors and losses, optimize storage space and react more quickly in the event of a problem. You also have to be organized to be able to respond quickly and accurately to requests or questions from other departments of the company.

Time Management

Inventory control involves meeting numerous deadlines with suppliers and customers, regularly monitoring inventory and placing orders at the right time. These tasks must be performed on a regular and timely basis.

Effective time management allows the inventory manager to find a moment for all their tasks, to avoid delivery delays and to have an excellent knowledge of the inventory at all times.


The inventory manager must work with many people such as suppliers, people from other departments of the store (purchasing, marketing, sales) and an inventory management team that they are responsible for leading.

The inventory manager must be a good communicator, because they are often the point of contact between different departments and they must communicate relevant information to people inside and outside of the store.

Clear and precise communication between the inventory manager and the other actors allows:

  • To have good relations with suppliers.
  • To establish mutual trust with them.
  • To make informed decisions.
  • To minimize mistakes due to misunderstandings.

Open communication with the inventory management team also increases its efficiency.

An ability to communicate effectively and clearly also makes it possible to manage emergency situations such as sudden shortages or quality problems more proactively and limit the consequences.

Tech Savvy

The inventory manager must be tech savvy, as inventory control is facilitated by the use of inventory management and data analysis software and technologies that automate many inventory-related processes.

They will have to use a point of sale software, purchase order software or inventory management software and must therefore be able to learn to use all of those softwares quickly.

Many softwares are used in retail. Discover them here.

Critical Thinking

The job of the inventory manager is to analyze inventory data, bring out useful information for decision-making in the store and find ways to improve inventory management to increase profitability. This requires being able to take a critical look at their ways of doing things and those of the store and being able to critically evaluate the elements that could be improved.

Market Knowledge

The inventory manager must be familiar with the products that the store sells, the competitors and the suppliers in the area that can supply the store. This knowledge is useful to always have the best possible agreements with suppliers and to outperform competitors when it comes to inventory and supply.

They must also know market trends and seasonal changes to know if they have the right items in inventory to satisfy customers.

Inventory Control With a Point of Sale Software

A point of sale (POS) software is a great help in inventory control. It allows you to track inventory levels in real time. This makes it easy for retailers to see what is available and in what quantity.

A good point of sale software is an important tool for an inventory manager, as it tracks both sales and inventory and helps with supplier management.

POS software generates reports on which products are selling well, which ones need to be re-ordered, sales trends and buying habits. These reports provide additional insight to make informed decisions about when to order new products and how much stock to keep.

To learn about all the features of point of sale software, click here.

A point of sale software with inventory management saves money and time and minimizes errors. It makes it possible to plan the inventory more precisely, thus avoiding overstocks and shortages. Thanks to this software, a store increases its profitability!

In conclusion, inventory control requires the collaboration of multiple actors within an organization. Having an inventory manager with all the skills essential to inventory control is an asset. By adopting the best practices and having people who are responsible specifically for inventory control, a store can optimize inventory, reduce costs, and maintain customer satisfaction, ensuring long-term growth and success.

See What Alice POS Can do For You

No obligation. No fees.