The Inventory Controller is the person responsible for managing and maintaining a company’s inventory.
The Inventory Controller monitors inventory levels, orders new stock as needed, manages the logistics of acquiring and storing the new stock, works with the rest of the business to forecast inventory needs based on sales forecasts and gives regular reports to senior management on the management of the company’s inventory.
If you’re reading this article, perhaps you’re considering a job as an Inventory Controller.
If so, you’ll learn what an Inventory Controller does, what skills and competencies are required to be successful, what steps you can take to become an Inventory Controller and how much you can expect to earn.
- What is Inventory Control?
- What does an Inventory Controller do?
- Inventory Controller: Skills and Competencies
- How to become an Inventory Controller
- Inventory Controller Salary range
- Key Takeaways
What is Inventory Control?
Inventory Control is the process of managing inventory so that it conforms to an organization’s needs.
The primary objective of inventory management is always to ensure that you have the optimal inventory on hand to satisfy customer demand and maximize profits.
Proper inventory control and management can lead to improved cash flows, reduced wastage, minimal shelf-time and storage and improved profits.
And the responsibility for performing inventory management and control lies with the Inventory Controller.
What does an Inventory Controller do?
An Inventory Controller manages an organization’s inventory. They are responsible for maintaining accurate records of stock on hand, as well as monitoring and projecting future demand.
Inventory Controllers ensure that inventory levels do not go below minimum allowable levels (understocking) or exceed maximum allowable quantities (overstocking).
Both understock and overstock can be bad for business. Understocking can lead to lost business while overstocking can lead to cash flow constraints, extra costs and wastage.
Inventory Controllers are responsible for placing purchase orders with vendors to order new stock when reorder levels are reached. They are responsible for liaison with the vendors and handling all the logistics, shipping and storing related to the order.
They are also responsible for figuring out how to get rid of excess inventory when an overstock situation occurs.
Inventory Controllers also need to be involved in demand planning and forecasting. They should be able to work with commercial teams to analyze sales patterns and translate these into inventory management actions.
Inventory Controller: Skills and Competencies
Understand Inventory Management
The core responsibility of an Inventory Controller is to manage inventory. And so sound knowledge of inventory management techniques and best practices is a must-have for the role of an Inventory Controller.
To become an Inventory Controller you need to have a firm grasp of concepts like Economic Order Quantity, Minimum Order Quantity, Just-in-time techniques, ABC Analysis, FIFO, LIFO, and Safety Stock, to name a few.
If you need to brush up on these concepts, please read this article from Skuvault.
Understand Supply Chain and Logistics
Since Inventory Controllers are responsible for ensuring that the correct stock levels are maintained at all times, it is important that they understand how goods are transported and delivered from suppliers to the warehouse or to stores.
They need to understand where the bottlenecks lie, and what can be done to improve the flow of goods.
Inventory Controllers also need to have a good grasp of logistics, which includes transportation, storage and delivery. With this knowledge, they can make better stock management decisions.
Be organized, meticulous and detail-oriented
Ensuring that the right amount of inventory is on-hand at all times is basically a question of organization.
And so good inventory control needs an organized person at the helm who is also meticulous and gives attention to detail.
A lack of organization can easily lead to shortages or excess inventory, costing the company money.
Meticulousness is key when it comes to tracking inventory and ensuring that nothing gets missed.
And without attention to detail, discrepancies between what’s on paper and what’s actually on hand can be easily missed.
Have Negotiation Skills
One of the responsibilities of an Inventory Controller is to liaise with vendors to ensure timely and on-quality delivery of ordered goods. Sometimes this requires negotiation with vendors. We don’t mean price negotiation (which might be agreed upon already through a purchase process) but negotiation of the delivery, schedule, etc.
And so Inventory Controllers need to have excellent verbal communication and interpersonal skills.
Be Analytical and Data-driven
Inventory Controllers need to analyze a lot of data in order to make the best decisions possible about what goods to order and when. This requires an analytical mind and a data-driven approach.
Inventory Controllers can also be responsible for developing processes, systems and best practices for inventory management. This requires a structured mind and the ability to convert analyses into actionable procedures.
Be able to use an Inventory Management software
A key requirement of an Inventory Controller’s job is to know how to use one of the popular Inventory Management software. These include Zoho Inventory, Katana, In-Flow, Seller Cloud, etc.
It isn’t so important which one of these you know as long as you know it well. Because if you know one inventory management software well, you will be able to quickly learn another one.
How to become an Inventory Controller
Get the necessary Education
Most Inventory Controller jobs require a high school diploma and at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration or logistics or supply chain. So, try to get this education before applying for a job as you will just increase the likelihood of landing a good position in a good company if you have the right education.
Get the right Experience
Most companies will require a minimum experience of a few years in the retail industry or in warehousing or logistics or shipping or something related. Such experience will make it more likely that you succeed as an Inventory Controller.
Develop your analytics and problem-solving skills
Your new company will expect you to analyze different situations, review the data and propose solutions to problems. You can expect interview questions related to situational analysis, analytical skills and problem-solving.
Remember, that sometimes attitude matters more than aptitude. In a job interview, your interviewer will be looking to see if you demonstrate a desire to solve a problem or are looking for reasons why it cannot be solved.
Work on your communication and negotiation skills
As we’ve seen earlier in this article, an Inventory Controller needs to communicate regularly with vendors, peers and management.
Negotiation isn’t always with external people. Sometimes you need to negotiate with your peers and your managers. So, work on sharpening both your written and verbal communication skills and your negotiation skills before targeting an Inventory Controller job.
Brush up on your computer skills
Needless to say, you need to be able to use some of the most basic computer tools like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. If you need to brush up on these skills do it before you go to the job interview.
Learn an Inventory Management Software
Many inventory management job descriptions require expertise in at least one inventory management software. If you lack this expertise, you may wish to sign up for online training programs from one or more inventory management software companies.
Inventory Controller Salary Range
As with all jobs, salaries for Inventory Controllers vary from country to country, region to region, and industry to industry.
According to Comparably Inventory Controllers in the United States have an average base salary of $50,000. Glassdoor and Payscale are also in the same range. But salary.com puts the average salary at $90,000.
As you can imagine, salaries can vary based on education levels, experience, additional skills, and demand and supply for the job position.
- An Inventory Controller is responsible for managing a company’s inventory
- This includes forecasting, planning, monitoring, ordering stock and disposing-off of extra stock.
- To become an Inventory Controller, you need to have an in-depth understanding of Inventory Management techniques and best practices. You need to equally understand supply chain and logistics.
- At a personal level you need to be organized, meticulous with attention to detail. You need good communication and negotiation skills. You need an analytical mind that can work with and process large amounts of data.
- You need to be comfortable using computers and software and especially have in-depth working knowledge of at least one Inventory Management software.
- Finally, salaries for Inventory Controllers vary based on many factors like geography, experience, skills and education.