What does a stock controller do? (Responsibilities and FAQs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 July 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.

Retailers and other businesses employ stock controllers to ensure that adequate levels of stock are available when necessary. Stock control is an important job in logistics and can involve working in various roles and locations. If you're interested in becoming a stock controller, it can be useful to understand what the role entails. In this article, we explain what a stock controller is, what a stock controller does and how you can become a stock controller and then answer some frequently asked questions about the position.

What is a stock controller?

A stock controller is responsible for ensuring that retailers, warehouses, restaurants and other such places have the necessary amounts of stock. This involves inspecting existing amounts of stock and ordering new stock when current inventory levels start to diminish. They can also manage warehouses and other storage facilities using inventory management systems.

Related: 12 warehouse job titles (With primary duties and salaries)

What does a stock controller do?

Understanding what stock controllers do can help you determine whether this is the right career choice for you. Some of the common stock controller responsibilities are as follows:

Maintaining stock levels

One of the primary responsibilities of a stock controller is ensuring that current inventory levels are sufficient. They base this on the demands from retailers or others who have access to the stock, in addition to their own assessments regarding supply and demand. This involves regular inspections of stock levels and then ordering new stock when they deem it necessary. A stock controller might work with other people like warehouse workers to achieve this, especially in larger facilities. They can also use inventory management systems and technological solutions to manage stock accurately.

Forecasting supply and demand

A good stock controller knows when it's going to be necessary to order more stock in advance. Being able to do this can make them much more effective and able to anticipate rapid changes in supply and demand. They often do this by gathering information and data over time to observe patterns which are often seasonal, and once the stock controller identifies them, they can start to proactively anticipate them.

For example, a stock controller might observe that demand for certain products increases greatly in the last two months of the year due to Christmas holidays. They might also use data to determine how much higher demand becomes during these times. Using this information, they can order extra stock in advance to allow the company to take advantage of the increased demand.

Related: What is a supply and demand curve and how is it useful?

Investigating supply chains

Stock controllers have an awareness of the supply chains that provide them with the goods they order. They might therefore periodically check how these are operating, either regularly or because of issues they've noticed. These investigations can help stock controllers better anticipate problems and find solutions or alternatives.

For instance, they might primarily work with a particular supplier to acquire goods. If deliveries become erratic or disrupted, the stock controller may decide to investigate the supply chain to identify the problem. This could lead them to discover that a production company has acquired the supplier's competitor and given it priority. The stock controller might therefore determine that it's advisable to switch to the other supplier to guarantee regular shipments.

Arranging quality control

Once stock deliveries arrive, stock controllers ensure that the goods are the right quality. They might therefore work with other personnel to evaluate the quality of the goods and determine whether this is what the supplier agreed to send or whether there are deficiencies. To do this, they might collaborate with production personnel and other specialists to provide an informed assessment.

Researching alternatives

Another priority for stock controllers is getting the right inventory for the right price. Prices can vary throughout the year and over greater lengths of time, and stock controllers can research alternatives to take advantage of these price fluctuations. They might also negotiate with various suppliers to secure better deals for their employers and develop good working relationships with these suppliers.

Related: Research skills: definition and examples

Managing budgets

Typically, a stock controller receives their budget from a colleague such as a retail manager. Within this budget, they try to get the best deals possible and ensure that supplies are predictable and timely. This can involve regular communication with retail managers if, for example, the stock controller believes the current budget to be insufficient or if they identify opportunities that may require extra resources.

Maintaining physical spaces

Stock controllers typically operate physical spaces like store rooms and warehouses where stock is held. These physical spaces also require their own maintenance, which is often the responsibility of the stock controller. An aspect of a stock controller's role is to ensure that the facilities maintain a consistent temperature and humidity range to avoid causing damage or deterioration to certain goods. These storage spaces may also have security cameras, sensors and other technologies that help the stock controller observe them and ensure their safety. These devices may require regular maintenance, another aspect of the stock controller's job.

How to become a stock controller

If you're interested in becoming a stock controller, consider following the steps below:

1. Get some GCSEs and A-levels

Typically, most post-school routes to becoming a stock controller require GCSEs or A-levels. Which subjects you take and how many depends on your chosen route. For example, if you're considering an apprenticeship, you'd typically require GCSEs in English and maths as a minimum. Although A-levels might not always be required, they might improve your chances when applying for training or apprenticeships.

2. Do an apprenticeship

An apprenticeship is a good choice if you want to become a stock controller and earn money while you learn. There are a few options available in related work that can give you the skills necessary. For instance, you might look for an intermediate warehouse operative apprenticeship, as this would familiarise you with the work environments that stock controllers manage.

Related: How do apprenticeships work? Including levels and types

3. Work towards the role

Even without an apprenticeship, you might be able to find entry-level work that can lead to the role of stock controller. For example, you could apply to become a stock control assistant. This role typically involves working closely with stock controllers and stock managers. Other terms for stock control assistant include stores assistant, logistics operative, warehouse operative, order picker and supply chain assistant. With some experience, you could apply to become a stock controller or stock supervisor.

Related: How to become an inventory controller (steps and skills)

Frequently asked questions about stock controllers

Below are some frequently asked questions about stock controllers, together with the respective answers for each:

How much do stock controllers earn?

The average pay for a stock controller varies depending on your experience and where you work. The national average salary for stock controllers is £26,836 per year. The related role of warehouse manager has a national average salary of £27,844 per year.

What are the career progression options for stock controllers?

There are a few options available for career progression once you become a stock controller. For instance, you might want to take on more responsibility in a senior position such as a senior stock controller, logistics manager or stock manager. In these roles, you might lead a team of people. There are also related roles in logistics you might consider. For example, you might want to become a supply chain manager. In this case, you might also consider doing some training courses to boost your chances, such as work-based training .

Related: What is supply chain management? (Definition and purposes)

What skills are necessary for stock controllers?

Stock controllers benefit from a mix of hard and soft skills to succeed. Developing these skills and adding them to your CV can increase your chances of finding the right job and progressing to other roles. Some of the key skills of stock controllers include:

  • attention to detail and thoroughness

  • good written and verbal communication skills

  • negotiating skills for dealing with suppliers

  • active listening skills

  • the ability to concentrate

  • problem-solving and critical thinking

  • creativity

  • physical fitness and dexterity

  • ability to motivate and lead a team

  • numeracy skills for assessing stock numbers and expectations

  • customer service skills

  • basic IT skills

  • ability to use inventory management systems

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

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