A guide to inventory manager responsibilities (plus salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 25 October 2022

Published 19 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Most businesses depend on efficient inventory management, so hiring capable inventory managers is essential no matter the industry. An inventory manager carries out both specific inventory duties and managerial tasks, so they require good organisational and people skills. Learning more about the skills and responsibilities of an inventory manager can help if you're interested in pursuing a career as an inventory manager. In this article, we explore the education, skills and experience needed to become an inventory manager along with typical inventory manager responsibilities.

What is an inventory manager?

An inventory manager is responsible for the purchase, documentation and management of inventory. The inventory manager ensures that the process of purchasing stock runs smoothly and cost-effectively by anticipating resource requirements and keeping supplies in balance with demand. Inventory managers could also be in charge of material quality and achieving customer service objectives, which includes working with procurement and logistics managers at factories and distribution centres.

Inventory management can include physical activities because inventory managers often stand for extended periods in warehouses. Most companies usually store their inventory in a heated warehouse or an air-conditioned building. So, depending on the type of business the manager is working in, inventory managers often cope with extremes in temperature.

Key inventory manager responsibilities

Inventory manager responsibilities vary as they usually work in a wide range of sectors and at firms of all sizes. An inventory manager is in charge of a company's products, supplies and resources. A company may utilise these stocks internally, sell them or lease them to consumers depending on the type of inventory. Inventory managers frequently oversee inventory clerks and warehouse employees, communicating with personnel from various divisions inside the company, such as sales and marketing.

The most important inventory manager responsibilities include:

Evaluating suppliers

Inventory managers are responsible for locating a supplier for the business or organisation with the commodities it needs to function profitably. Maintaining a strong business relationship with suppliers, for example, through discussing and dealing with issues, such as delays in processing an order, is part of that duty. An inventory manager can also be responsible for finding other suppliers who can provide their products to the company at a lower rate.

Preparing documentation

Inventory managers are in charge of inventory documentation. They precisely document the inventory's type, quantity, quality, style and other relevant features so that the organisation knows what is and isn't available. Because the inventory management keeps a continuous total, these papers also assist the business to minimise shrinkage due to theft. The paperwork provided by the inventory manager can also be useful for marketing and identifying successful inventory movement methods.

Buying new inventory

Some businesses may have a distinct buying department that negotiates contracts with vendors. But in smaller firms, the inventory manager may be responsible for procuring raw materials or products. It's important for the inventory manager to be aware of what merchandise is available and what is running low at all times.

If inventory runs short, they're responsible for buying more from the source and negotiating costs and a delivery timetable. Skilled inventory managers also recognise when they can have an excess of goods. In such cases, they can liaise with the company to use them in different products, sell the excess amount, create an auction, get a refund or write them off.

Tracking inventory

It's crucial to possess skills in tracking goods since knowledge of the inventory flow influences all three of the responsibilities described above. Essentially, the inventory manager is responsible for ensuring that the organisation has the correct quantity of stock to satisfy consumer requirements. A skilled inventory manager also avoids overstocking, which wastes money and causes storage problems. A good inventory management solution makes the job of an inventory manager considerably easier. Inventory management software and wireless asset tracking are computerised methods that help track inventory properly and rapidly.

Additional inventory manager responsibilities

Additional roles and responsibilities of an inventory manager include the following:

  • using computerised inventory or supply chain software to observe and monitor stock levels

  • carrying out regular cycle counts to identify available inventory

  • maintaining connections with suppliers, especially when dealing with stock and delivery issues

  • preparing inventory for distribution or transportation to consumers

  • hiring and training warehouse personnel, distributing responsibilities and preparing rosters for employees

  • analysing sales data and estimating future inventory requirements

Related: Management skills: Definitions and examples

What are the education and training requirements of inventory managers?

Although there are no specific training or education requirements for this profession, inventory managers often hold a bachelor's degree or higher national diploma in supply chain management, inventory management, business administration or operations. Candidates can also advance their knowledge and abilities in inventory management by gaining professional credentials. The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), for example, provides a variety of related degrees, including a Level 4 Certificate in Purchasing and Supply Operations and a Level 2 Diploma in Warehousing and Storage.

What skills are the most valuable for an inventory manager?

Here are some essential skills that help inventory managers excel at their jobs:

Being a good team player and leader

Inventory managers are capable leaders. They're responsible for hiring and managing a team of people. So, it's important that they remain approachable but firm. Additionally, they can take direction and operate as part of a larger group. Inventory managers also require good communication skills because they often collaborate with marketing departments and other managers to ensure that inventory flow is efficient.

Understanding the products they're selling

A good inventory manager endeavours to learn more about the products of a company and the raw materials required to produce them. They also keep up with industry news to recognise supply and demand trends that may influence inventory scheduling. Aside from industry-specific expertise, it's essential for inventory managers to distinguish between different types of inventory and what they need at any one time. The four types of inventory are:

  • Item: Single items placed on a shelf.

  • Assembly: A combination of components required to construct another object.

  • Family: Groups of similar goods.

  • Case pack: Multi-item bundles.

Building strong business relationships

Inventory managers are frequently involved in ordering products and ensuring that their organisation receives the correct products. This requirement emphasises that inventory managers are aware of their suppliers and can cultivate good connections with them. While having a strong relationship with suppliers is good practice, it also makes it easier for an inventory manager to visit their facilities if necessary or keep in contact regarding inventory needs.

Being tech-savvy with good digital skills

The first kind of inventory tracking depended on human counting, with businesses relying on pen and paper for many years. Next came Microsoft Excel and similar spreadsheets, which represented a step forward, but just a minor one. Today, barcode systems are the most recent set of technologies for tracking inventories and assets. While some companies offer training to their inventory managers to learn these digital tracking systems, having a basic understanding of inventory systems can provide an added advantage.

Anticipating future needs

Tracking inventory flow to determine future demands is one of the most critical jobs of an inventory manager. Effective inventory managers use tracking software to comprehend the evolving flow of product demand. They also monitor marketing initiatives and calendar events such as holiday shopping to ensure additional inventory for contingencies. The 80/20 rule commonly applied to sales can also be useful for calculating inventory demand. The percentages may not be 100% accurate, but this rule can help an inventory manager determine which stock is likely to drive demand so they can plan accordingly.

How much does an inventory manager make?

The national average salary for an inventory manager is £32,538 per year. This salary figure can vary depending on the location, with employees in London generally earning more than in other parts of the country. Factors such as your experience, certifications and qualifications also impact your earning potential, with high levels of previous experience generally contributing to a larger amount of compensation.

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

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Related:

  • What is inventory management? (Definitions and applications)

  • 15 types of inventory in manufacturing (with definitions)

  • What is inventory control? (Definition, types and guide)

  • What is a perpetual inventory system? (And how to use it)

  • An inventory system guide (With tips for choosing one)


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