Partial inventory counts are an inventory count on a small section of your inventory, usually a particular brand, type, or supplier's items.
Completing regular partial inventory counts helps you to keep on top of your inventory, and ensures that your end-of-year inventory count is easier to conduct with fewer unexpected discrepancies.
When to do a partial count
Many retailers complete Partial counts during regular open hours in order to help keep the store's inventory accurate during the year. You can even run multiple partial counts at the same time — just make sure you don't have the same product in more than one count.
We recommend regularly scheduling your partial counts throughout the year. Because you can schedule in advance, you can easily stagger these to ensure full coverage of your inventory each quarter, for example.
Preparing for the count
On the day before, or the day of, your inventory count, depending on how much you're counting, you'll need to prepare your inventory to be counted.
Each store will have a different process for this, but we recommend:
- Checking your barcode scanners to make sure they are functioning.
- Tidying all areas you'll be counting, including any items on hold.
- Turning all labels barcode-side out for easy scanning.
- Printing new labels for any products missing labels.
How to start a partial inventory count
Before you begin
If you're planning partial inventory counts, make sure you've set up your products with brands, types, suppliers and/or tags to help you refine your searches. Learn how here.
When you're ready to start your count, you can either start a new count or start a scheduled count.
Starting a new count
1. Navigate to Inventory > Inventory count.
2. Click the Add inventory count button.
3. Set the Start date and Start time for the inventory count (this will default to today's date, and cannot be set to in the past).
4. Select an Outlet to conduct the inventory count from the drop-down menu.
5. Enter a Count name.
6. Select Partial count.
7. Use the search field to start adding filters to your inventory count. This will search for any that match your search term. For example, searching for "Jeans" would show the type "Jeans" and the brand "Guess Jeans." You may search for:
It's important to understand how the filters work. For example:
- Search for the term "Jeans" and select the type "Jeans." All products with the type "Jeans" will be added to the count.
- Then, search for the term "Levis" and select the brand "Levis." This will remove any products from the count that don't have the brand "Levis" as well as the type "Jeans."
- Search for the term "Lee" and select the brand "Lee". This will add any products with the type "Jeans" and the brand "Lee" back into your count. In other words, and products with the type "Jeans" and either the brand "Lee" or "Levis" will be included in your count.
You can tell when a tag or type is part of the same group as they will be grouped together under the search bar, like in the image above.
You can also add individual products to your partial inventory count.
8. Once you've added all the items you want to count, click Start count.
Starting a scheduled count
1. Navigate to Inventory > Inventory count.
2. Find the count you want to start in your Due list.
3. Click the count name. The count settings page will open. You don't need to worry about updating the date and time if it's wrong — Retail POS will update it to today's date.
4. Click Start count. The inventory count will now commence.
You'll see a page with a list of all your items to be counted, as well as the expected count for those items. You don't need to count the items in the order they appear on the page.
Counting your items
Once you've started the Inventory count, there are multiple ways to record your items. Use one of the following methods:
Scanning barcodes with a barcode scanner
If the device you're using to perform the inventory count (Mac or PC, and iPad) has a barcode scanner set up, you can simply scan the items into the inventory count to record them.
1. With Quick-scan mode enabled, you can scan back-to-back barcodes to record one of each.
Quick-scan mode enables to you rapidly scan each item's barcode in your store to add it to your inventory count. Your scanned item will automatically be counted as soon as you scan the barcode.
If you'd prefer to use the barcode to look up the item SKU and then enter the final count number before submitting it, un-tick the Quick-scan mode box.
Red "unexpected" symbol next to products after I add them to my inventory count
When you are performing a partial count you can sometimes get a red "unexpected" symbol next to your products. When this symbol appears it means that a product has been added to the partial count that doesn't match any of the filters you specified when creating the count.
If you would like this symbol to disappear you may need to create a new partial count and broaden your filters. If you have already started counting or are happy to continue with your current count you can simply ignore the symbol and continue as it will still accept the adjustment for this "unexpected" product regardless. If you are certain that this product should fall under the filters you've applied, head to the product screen and edit the product in question to ensure that it's been set up correctly.
2. Alternatively you can scan the barcode once (with Quick-scan mode disabled), and then manually enter the count of each item.
Scanning barcodes using Retail POS's Scanner app
The Scanner app allows you to create and/or begin inventory counts and use the device's built-in camera to scan barcodes in order to record items.
For more information on using the Scanner app to perform inventory counts, refer to Performing inventory counts in Lightspeed scanner.
Manually recording and searching for items
You can perform the count manually, such as marking down the count for each item with pen and paper, and searching for the item in Retail POS then entering the amount*.
*Manually counting your items increases the risk of error. Ensure that the correct items are listed and preferably the SKU is recorded for each so that when entered, the amount is recorded against the correct items.
Once an item is counted
When an item is counted, it appears at the top of your counted list. It will have a tick next to it if you've reached the expected quantity. It will then appear in Your last counted items on the right-hand side of your screen. The number of items in your uncounted tab will also be reduced.
Your count will automatically be saved - you can see the latest save time at top of the screen above the Pause button.
Review and submit a partial inventory count
Once all your counts are submitted, you'll need to review your counted items.
When you open the review page, there are five tabs you can view:
- Uncounted: This lists all items where the total counted is 0. This includes items with an expected count of 0.
- Unmatched: This lists all items that had a count greater or less than the expected amount. This includes items where you expected a negative amount and counted 0.
- Matched: This lists all items you've counted where the total counted equals the expected amount.
- Excluded: Any items you manually exclude from your count.
Review the items in your count, especially the unmatched and uncounted items. If you have discrepancies, you can:
- Tick the box next to an item, and choose to Exclude items from the count.
- Tick the box next to an item, and choose Recount items. This will set the count for these items to zero, so you can count the items again.
- Click Resume count at the bottom of the page, and count the items again.
If you resume counting, the item will still show the quantity scanned so far. Use the Recount items option on the Review page to reset to zero. Alternatively, on the count page, you can enter a negative quantity for that item in the quantity field to remove items, or to zero the inventory level for an item to start from scratch.
Trading while counting
If you were trading while counting, you will need to make any final adjustments based on sales or returns made during your count period.
If you sell or return an item after you've counted it, that item will need to be adjusted. For a sale, you'll need to decrease the count quantity by one in your inventory count. For a return, you'll need to increase the quantity by one.
If you sell or return an item before you've counted it, these items will have the correct inventory value but a discrepancy may appear on the review page (as the expected count would not have changed.)
Any sales made when conducting an inventory count will still be correctly recorded in your sales history.
Submitting the count
Once you've checked and confirmed your count, and are satisfied all items are accounted for, click Complete.
Next, you will need to confirm that you are definitely finished with the inventory count. Remember, don't do this until ALL of your staff have completed and saved the counts on their devices. If you have any uncounted items, we'll alert you, as the inventory count for these items will be set to 0.
When you are sure you are done, click Submit.
Once you've clicked complete, we'll start processing your count. This can take several minutes to complete, especially if you've got lots of items.
Once it's complete, the results will be displayed on the page.
You'll have three tabs:
These will list your items, the expected amounts, the final counts, the change in units after your count, and any associated cost for that change (for example, if you're one unit short, it will tell you what that costs you).
Scrolling down to the bottom of the list will display your total changes in units and total changes in costs.
You'll see two figures for each of these - the total increases (for items where your count was higher than expected) and total decreases (for items where your count was lower than expected).
Export the data
Click the export buttons to get a copy of your results.
There are two options:
- Generate CSV report: This gives you a CSV file with a line for each product counted. You'll also have columns for expected and final count, change in cost, and the total value of each product's inventory after the count. This is typically used for importing into another system or for creating your own reports.
- Generate PDF report: This gives you a formatted PDF report, including the expected and final count, change in cost, and total value of each product's inventory after count for each product. You'll also have a summary with total changes for your whole count.
Abandon a partial inventory count
Sometimes, you may need to stop doing an inventory count that you've started. This may be because you've run out of time to complete it, for example, as an inventory count should always be completed in a short time period.
This is called abandoning a count. To abandon an in-progress count:
- Open the count on either the Edit count or Review count page.
- Click the Abandon count button.
Abandoned counts will appear on the Cancelled tab of the inventory count home page.
Review historical inventory counts
You can view historical counts and export the results at any time.
- Click the Completed tab on the inventory count home page
- Click the count you wish to open.
Refer to our What is an inventory count and how do I complete one? guide for more information about Inventory counts in Retail POS.
If you want to count all stock, you can instead perform a Full inventory count. We recommend doing this when the store is closed. For more on Full inventory counts, refer to the Full inventory counts guide.