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How To Count Liquor Inventory: Essential 4-Step Guide

Running a liquor store can be a fun and rewarding business, but it's not without its challenges. 

One of the most significant challenges is managing inventory effectively. With so many different types of liquor to keep track of, counting inventory can be a daunting task — and with the value of that inventory, keeping an accurate count is crucial.

Imagine this: It’s a busy Friday night. You’re gearing up for a bustling day when a customer comes in and asks for one of your most expensive products: a particular 30-year scotch. You know you have it on hand — your system tells you so! 

But upon further inspection, you see that a mistake was made during inventory counts, and you’re out of stock. You have to deliver the customer the sorry news, then watch them walk out the door to spend their 300 dollars at one of your competitors’ stores.

Did that story make you sweat a little? Have no fear. We’re here to ensure challenges like that don’t happen to you or your store! 

In this post, you'll learn everything you need to know to conduct an accurate liquor inventory count, including preparing for the count, the actual count process, analyzing the results, and adjusting inventory levels and ordering. So, let's dive in and learn how to count liquor inventory like a pro!


How to Count Liquor Inventory: Why Accurate Inventory Matters 

Inventory management matters for any business, but it’s especially crucial in liquor store operations. Knowing how to count liquor inventory appropriately ensures you have enough stock of the popular products customers want, but also helps you identify issues with shrinkage due to theft or breakage. 

Another challenge you may face regarding your inventory management is dead stock. When you have too much inventory that isn’t moving off the shelves, you’re wasting valuable time and resources on useless products. Keeping a close eye on inventory can help you avoid this struggle. 

Related Read: 3 Best Inventory Counting Methods for Small Businesses

Still, you may be wondering: what are the consequences of getting liquor inventory wrong? You’ll face numerous challenges in the event of ineffective inventory processes, such as lost sales due to running out of stock, and lost resources due to product expiration or damage on your over-full shelves. 

When you take the time to count your liquor inventory regularly and properly, you can avoid these pitfalls and ensure the long-term success of your liquor store.

1. Make Inventory Count Preparations 

Step one actually comes before you begin your count. 

Start by setting a date and time for the count and communicate that date and time to any staff who need to be aware or assist with the count. You’ll also need to set specific responsibilities for all involved employees and communicate those to your staff at this time. 

You will then want to separate your inventory into categories. You’ll want to count all the beer in one section, all your different whiskies in another section, and so on. Separating inventory by categories beforehand will make your count smoother and easier to organize. 

Related Read: Automated Inventory Management: Why It's a Critical Feature for Retailers 

Next, set up a designated counting area in your store and ensure all inventory is organized and easily accessible from this counting area. 

Taking these steps before you begin your count will help to make the process go more smoothly and accurately. 

2. Conduct Your Stock Count 

Once you have made your preparations, you are ready to begin your count. Start by separating your inventory into categories like vodka, gin, and so on. Then, begin your count!

You can use a spreadsheet or pen and paper to manage your count, however these manual methods of counting can be tedious at best and inaccurate at worst. We recommend using a barcode scanner that integrates with your point of sale (POS) system to increase the accuracy and speed of your count.

Related Read: The Best Liquor Store POS Systems Available in 2023

Work diligently to ensure you are not missing or double-counting any bottles. Recount sections as necessary to ensure an accurate inventory count. 

3. Analyze Liquor Inventory Data

Once you’ve completed your count, your job is done, right?

Not quite!

Next, you’ll need to analyze the data. Compare the inventory count to any previous count records and sales data. Are there any discrepancies between recorded stock and the actual stock in your store? These discrepancies may indicate shrinkage due to theft or breakage. 

Additionally, use this opportunity to identify slow-moving inventory. Are there any products that haven’t sold any units since your previous count? These items are good candidates for discounts or even removal from your inventory altogether.

Are you stocking your best sellers quickly enough, or are you seeing lower levels of those products than you would expect at this point in your ordering process? The answers to these questions will help you better manage inventory for your store. 

4. Make Adjustments

Lastly, it’s time to make adjustments to your inventory and stocking processes!

Based on the inventory analysis you conducted in step three, make decisions about which items to order more or less of. Consider using your POS system to set reorder thresholds for bestsellers to ensure you never run out of inventory and miss a sale.

Related Read: ANSWERED: What Affects Your Liquor Store Profit Margin?

If you find many discrepancies between your systems and your true count, take this opportunity to train employees on inventory management best practices and explore employee security measures if needed to help with shrinkage from employee theft or accidents/broken bottles. 

Lastly, if you are not already using a robust liquor POS system to manage your inventory, consider implementing such a solution. Bottle POS can help you automate and streamline inventory processes to make physical counts less essential and provide the real-time data you need to make decisions for your store.


How To Count Liquor Inventory: The Easy Way 

Counting liquor inventory for your store can feel daunting, but when you have the right processes in place, it can be simpler than it seems. However, counting by hand is still an incredibly manual, time-consuming, and error-prone process.

When you implement a robust point of sale (POS) solution, like Bottle POS, you can track inventory in real time instead of relying on outdated counts riddled with potential human error. 

With features like a centralized liquor database, automated receiving inventory, and mobile inventory you can access from anywhere with an internet connection, you can manage your inventory counts without breaking a sweat.

To see how Bottle POS can help you level up your liquor store inventory game, schedule a demo of our solution today!