What Does an Inventory Manager Do? (With Techniques)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 30, 2021

Various organizations rely on inventory managers for the efficient movement and storage of goods and raw materials. Their role involves ensuring that a company's raw materials or goods are sufficient for its production or sales requirements. Understanding "What does an inventory manager do?" and what techniques they typically use can help you determine whether you want to pursue a career in inventory management. In this article, we explain what inventory managers do, outline how to become one, and highlight some techniques of inventory managers.

What does an inventory manager do?

Learning the answer to "What does an inventory manager do?" can help you understand the broad scope of inventory management. An inventory manager oversees the company's register of goods. They're responsible for sourcing, storing, organizing, and distributing raw materials and finished products in a company's inventory. Usually, the inventory manager oversees a team of warehouse staff who receive and stock goods in the warehouse. The team is also typically responsible for transporting goods from the warehouse to production or consumption points while following the inventory manager's instructions.

The primary duties of an inventory manager may include:

  • monitoring inventory stock levels through manual counting or automated inventory management software

  • periodically applying various inventory management formulas to determine available inventory space

  • ordering more products to meet the company's needs when stocks are low

  • identifying potential suppliers and forming strategic partnerships to ensure the timely delivery of goods

  • developing and implementing strategies to reduce operational, storage, and distribution costs

  • overseeing the preparation of goods for delivery to customers

  • overseeing the recruitment, onboarding, and training of inventory staff

  • developing employee schedules, monitoring their performance, and coordinating their activities

  • collaborating with the sales team to study sales figures and produce accurate forecasts about inventory needs

  • preparing detailed inventory reports, including stock levels, inventory needs, and details of operations

Related: 9 Supply Chain Management Degree Jobs (With Salaries)

How to become an inventory manager

Here's an overview of some steps you can follow to become an inventory manager:

1. Research the role

To determine if inventory management is a viable career path, it's important you understand what the role entails. Researching the role can help you prepare for its typical duties and requirements. One of the most effective ways to understand a role is to speak with someone who previously held that role. You can ask them questions about the work environment, pay, and career prospects. You can also research the role using various job sites to ensure it matches your interests and skill set.

2. Obtain a bachelor's degree

While you can become an inventory manager without a bachelor's degree, most employers prefer candidates who have one. You can consider a bachelor's degree program in supply chain management, business administration, or finance. For a specialized industry, it's often beneficial to complete a related degree. For example, employers in the health industry may require a degree in nursing or health sciences. To save time and money, you can consider completing an associate's degree in a relevant field.

3. Gain work experience

To become an inventory manager, it's essential to gain relevant experience in inventory management. Having experience without a degree may be sufficient to become an inventory manager, though it can take more time. Employers may require between two and five years of experience in a related role, depending on the organization. For example, you can gain relevant experience as a warehouse associate or store clerk. Candidates looking to secure a role in a specialized industry may require industry-specific experience. For example, employers in the health industry may require prior experience with the inventory of a health organization.

4. Consider pursuing a certification

Certifications can help you demonstrate competence and expertise to potential employers and clients. Many employers favour candidates with relevant certifications, and some may even make it a requirement. As an inventory manager, you can consider the following certifications:

  • Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM): The American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS) is responsible for issuing this internationally recognized certification. CPIM certification provides candidates with in-depth knowledge of inventory management.

  • Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP): The APICS is also responsible for administering this certification worldwide. The CSCP trains candidates to manage customer and vendor relationships, develop an effective supply chain strategy, promote client satisfaction, and increase revenue.

  • Certified in Logistics, Transportation, and Distribution Credential Program (CLTD): This certification provides a broad understanding of distribution, transportation, and logistics industries. It trains candidates in various areas, including global logistics, industry standards and practices, supply strategies, reverse logistics, and various transportation channels.

Related: How to List Your Certifications on a Resume

5. Update your resume

After obtaining the relevant qualifications, you can update your resume to include them. You can keep a general resume to record all your qualifications, then customize it for each application. You can then carefully review the job description to determine which qualifications, experiences, and skills the hiring manager prioritizes. This can help you create a more relevant or impressive resume and improve your chances of success.

Related: How to Create a Retail Management Resume (With Example)

6. Apply for a job

Inventory managers work in most industries that involve the movement of goods from one point to another. They can work in retail organizations, distribution centres, warehouses, and factories. As a result, there may be many job opportunities for you as an inventory manager. You can use online databases to search for open roles in your area. You may also inform your professional network, friends, family, and colleagues that you're looking for a job, and they may have suggestions about where to apply.

Techniques of inventory management

Here are some of the most popular inventory management techniques:

Bulk shipments

Inventory managers use bulk shipments for goods or resources that are in high demand. The bulk shipment strategy operates on the idea that purchasing and moving products in large quantities is usually cheaper. It can allow companies to increase their profit margin, as they can ship more with less cost. Bulk shipments may require companies to expand their storage space. It's also important for businesses to ensure the safety of each valuable bulk shipment.

ABC inventory management

The ABC inventory management technique involves sorting a company's products based on their importance. Under this technique, category A is for goods that are high in value and low in quantity, category B is for goods of moderate value and quantity, and category C covers goods with low value but high quantity. Separating products into these categories typically aids inventory management, especially with the allocation of funds and staff. This technique can allow the inventory manager to spend more time adjusting to the unique needs of each product.

Back-ordering

Back-ordering refers to a technique where companies accept orders for products that are out of stock. In such cases, the company can inform the customer of the product's expected time of arrival. For example, some companies allow their customers to pre-order goods, meaning to buy them before they're available. The benefit of back-ordering is that it can allow companies to make more sales. It may also reduce operational costs, like storage and transportation, as companies can schedule bulk orders. Back-ordering can also involve logistical challenges, like managing customer expectations during supply chain shortages.

Just in time (JIT)

Companies using this technique may purchase goods at the point of need. This can allow a business to reduce the number of products in its inventory. This technique can help manage inventory costs and ensure goods don't stay in the inventory for too long. JIT companies may require efficient order processing and reliable transportation channels to manage short-term orders and deliveries.

Consignment

The consignment technique typically involves a wholesaler offering goods to a retailer to sell while retaining ownership of the goods. The retailer can sell the goods and use the money to purchase ownership from the wholesaler. Usually, companies use this technique to test new products. It can allow retailers to meet demand without spending as much money. This can also help the wholesaler avoid marketing and storage costs while allowing the company to track its product's popularity.

Dropshipping and cross-docking

The dropshipping technique can allow intermediaries or retailers to eliminate the cost of storage or inventory. With dropshipping, retailers can transfer the customer's order details directly to the manufacturer who handles the shipment of products. The sole responsibility of the dropshipper is marketing the goods to customers and processing their orders. Similar to dropshipping, cross-docking involves moving goods directly from one vehicle to another. Both techniques may require an efficient logistics system.

Inventory cycle counting

This technique involves counting small portions of a company's inventory to determine the amount of stock. Inventory cycle counting can allow a business to evaluate its stock while using less time and resources than counting them individually. Factors like seasonality can affect the accuracy of this method.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.