Keeping track of your stock

An annual stocktake is an essential part of stock control and is the best way to keep track of your stock. You should also implement an ongoing system for tracking items you have bought and sold.

An effective system for tracking your stock will help you work out when to reorder stock.


Performing a stocktake involves making a list, or inventory, of all the stock you hold. You should be able to track each item in your stock by its:

  • unique item number
  • stored location
  • selling price
  • stock number
  • cost
  • quantity
  • source of supply
  • applicable tax
  • point-of-sale details.

Stocktaking is a valuable exercise that can help you identify lost, stolen or damaged items. You may be able to write these items off as a loss, sometimes against the cost of goods sold, for accounting purposes.

Depending on your stock and the size of your business, you may be legally obligated to perform an annual stocktake. Learn more about your legal obligations for stocktaking.

Stocktaking results should be included in your record keeping.

Manual stock management

Manual stock management best suits businesses that carry a small amount of stock. A manual stock management system might include:

  • a stock book to record the items you have bought and sold
  • a reorder system based on your stock book
  • labels or codes for each item in your stock, including information about the value of each item, when you received it and its location.

Computer-based stock management

You can use simple computer-based programs to manage your stock. Computer programs can track what stock you order and sell, and record the costs. The program may also include a scanner and point of sale (POS) machine. Many larger freight companies also offer comprehensive web-based systems to track shipments.

Stock control programs can provide information on particular stock management techniques, as well as help on specific stock management problems. You may also be able to find a program that is specific to your industry or the type of stock you hold.

Also consider...