inventory management

How to label your material inventory locations

We discuss how to implement a good labelling system for your handmade inventory.

Once you have a good labelling system in place for your materials, the next step is to create codes and locations for your inventory locations.

An “inventory location” is simply the physical spot that you store your materials. To develop your inventory location system, you’ll firstly want to review your current storage situation.

If things are a little messy right now, think of this as a great excuse to give everything a big cleanout and a fresh start! You’ll firstly want to go through your inventory and remove any unused old stock (either sell or store away in a seperate location to your working stock). Next, ensure that each material is together in the one container and after this group together all materials that are similar - buttons with buttons, and fabric with fabric for example. Ensuring that you have proper storage for each material is also important and should be considered at the same time.

If you already have some semblance of order to your materials but just don’t have the coding system behind it then things are a little easier. You’ll want to now review where you put each material and assign a location to it. Using a three part coding system (zone-section-position) is recommended as it allows your stock codes to be easily read and can be adapted as your business grows.

To do this, you’ll want to create “zones” out of your storage locations - these are the high level groupings you’ll want to use so that you know roughly whereabouts your material is. These zones can be different rooms, or even different areas inside the same room. You can either use a number for each zone (i.e. your garage area is 1, your workshop storage is 2 etc.), a letter, a color, or perhaps you might like to use a code you create yourself (“G” for garage, “W” for workshop).

Within each zone, you can then further divide into sections - how many sections completely depends on how much stock you have and the different types you need to sort through. Bookshelves, storage units and static boxes are good candidates for sections. Again, you can either use numerical, alphabetical or a code: whatever works for you.

You’ll now be defining the location inside each section. This should be assigned to each material and should be the most granular level of finding your material. You might like to use alphabetical (A-Z) or numeric naming (1-99) to denote each spot in your section.

Once you have figured out the system to use, you’ll then want to give each of your materials a unique code based on the three sections. This is usually written as ZONE-SECTION-POSITION. So, if you store your Red Buttons in a box on the 4th shelf in your workspace, you might give it the code W-S4-12.

You’ll want to ensure that you are also using a good inventory system that allows you to record this information, so you have a full list of locations for each of your materials and also that allows you to report on each material that is in a certain location. Craftybase provides both material bin locations, and has the reporting capabilities required to maintain your inventory location system.

Nicole Pascoe Nicole Pascoe - Profile

Written by Nicole Pascoe

Nicole is the co-founder of Craftybase, inventory and manufacturing software designed for small manufacturers. She has been working with, and writing articles for, small manufacturing businesses for the last 12 years. Her passion is to help makers to become more successful with their online endeavors by empowering them with the knowledge they need to take their business to the next level.