Are you opening a retail shop? One of your important tasks is to design your stock room. Or perhaps you opened your shop but didn’t really give all that much attention to your stock room and now is the time to get your stock room in order

The high cost per square metre of many retail locations makes it tempting to devote almost every centimetre to the sales floor in order to maximise display space. Certainly the area devoted to merchandise display is the most important part of the shop, but few shops could survive without a rest room, unloading area, storage space and an office.

A comfortable and efficient office, stock area and employee break room make for a happy bookkeeping, buying and stockperson staff [even if it’s you!]. Few shops have enough room to make these areas as spacious as they should be. Remodelling money tends to get put first into the parts of the shop where customers can see it.

You need to consider:
The flow of merchandise as it arrives, is received and then moves onto the sales floor for display.
Establishing areas for the storage of excess merchandise.
Safe storage required for tools and equipment that are required to offload and move incoming merchandise.

Here are eleven tips for setting up your stock room. [These same tips can also be used to check your existing stock room setup].

1. Stock arriving by truck should not come in through the front of your shop and there should be a place for unpacking merchandise without making a mess on the sales floor. Ideally, the space for unpacking merchandise should be located near the freight entrance and should be roomy enough to accommodate new arrivals as well as merchandise not yet checked in.
2. Provide open working space in your stock room. This area comes in handy for breaking out, counting and inspecting incoming merchandise, broken cases, damaged and smaller mixed store merchandise. All you need is a table or other flat topped working space to make it easier.
3. Supplies such as price guns, tags, knives, and forms for checking in and routing merchandise should be close at hand. Bins for sorting rubbish and recyclables should be nearby
4. Don't create rows of shelves to stock the extra merchandise you receive. The sad truth is the more shelves you install the more items will find their way to your back stock area. You will soon find all kinds of merchandise stored in the backroom rather than on the sales floor where it will make you money. The bottom line: add some shelving. However place back stock on upper shelves or bottom drawers right on the sales floor for ease of replenishment.
5. Your stock room will be used for more than just storing back stock merchandise. Therefore it is important to leave lots of room to move about freely. Place a few shelves against the walls. But make sure the stock room in your shop does have open space to work. You will find this space useful for sorting, assembling displays and merchandise, and for storing extra incoming merchandise that hasn't been received or inspected...
6. Be sure to include plenty of good lighting in your receiving/stock room area. Good lighting will significantly shorten the amount of time spent trying to see the small product numbers on boxes and other packages. It will also make reading the faint printing on incoming invoices much easier.
7. Be prepared for the weight of the products being handled in your receiving and stockroom areas. You and your stock personnel could be moving heavy pallets of items about your stockroom. Be sure there is plenty of room to move. Also be sure to provide the right tools for the job. Tools, depending on your shop, could include a hand truck and a pallet jack. For larger stores consider investing in a forklift to ease the lifting.
8. Really think through the possible risks associated with installing ceiling-high shelving. The higher you build your shelving the more the risk of injury. Higher shelves require higher lifting of merchandise. Higher shelves invite employees to climb about rather than using ladders. Even ladders add an element of risk. The higher your shelving the more precautions to take.
9. A shop can never have enough storage space. It is not a luxury; rather, storage space is often a key to good customer service. Customers find it frustrating when a shop is out of an item they want. Adequate storage space allows the shop to carry enough depth of stock in key items to prevent “outages” that result in lost sales. Of course, too much storage space can encourage costly stockpiling of merchandise, but few retailers feel that they have enough room for the stock they need, especially on-site.
10. Individual shops sometimes find space in another location, such as commercial rental storage units, to store merchandise, displays and supplies. Be sure to check your insurance coverage for any items stored off-premises, even if the storage is in your own garage.
11. Keep storage areas clean and neat, with aisles clear for staff carrying boxes of merchandise. A messy stockroom can be a fire hazard, as well as an inefficient way of keeping merchandise close at hand and in perfect, saleable condition.