Cycle Count Best Practices: The Top 5 Things You Should Be Doing

Previously, in our Inventory Management Features series, we went over the basics and benefits of cycle counts. This time, we will go more into depth and explore how you can improve your cycle count. In simple terms, a cycle count is the audit practice of checking the inventory levels  on a continued schedule. However, cycle counts are usually limited to a part of the total inventory in order to avoid disruption to your operations.

Cycle counting can ensure the accuracy of what your inventory system displays. The data in the system will match the actual quantity you have in your location. Here are the top 5 best practices you should apply to your cycle counts:

Being Consistent and Frequent is Key

You may choose to cycle count daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on the scale of inventory and the needs of your organization. This differs from physical counts, which are conducted typically once a year. Being more frequent with your counts can improve your inventory accuracy. No matter the time period you choose, make cycle counts a consistent part of your operations.

You should aim to do cycle counts as often as you can with the resources you have. Since the goal of cycle counting is to close any gaps in your inventory data, the more often the better.

Use ABC Counting

You may also choose to count some items more often than others. ABC cycle counts are when you separate your inventory into the three letter categories. Items under the “A” group are the top 20% of products that bring in 80% of your sales. “B” items are the next 30% that account for 15% of sales. Finally, items in the “C” group are the last 50% that account for 5% of sales.

What’s the benefit of grouping your items? You can use these groups to decide how often you should cycle count each group. For example, you will cycle count items in the “A” group more often than those in the “C.” But, don’t forget about the “B” and “C” items. You should aim to cycle count these at least on a quarterly basis.

Go Mobile

Using an inventory management system, you can cycle count at any time you choose. It is key that your system has mobile options so you can easily scan and key in quantities for a cycle count. If not, look into integrating with barcode scanners. Having mobile access can make cycle counting much easier. You can simply scan and update quantities from the palm of your hand.

Double Check Your Count

Human error is always possible, so have more than one worker on the cycle count. That way, in the event a mistake is made, you can catch and fix it. After all, cycle counts are about improving accuracy. The best way to combat error is having two or more workers count independently of one another. Once they finish, you can compare the results and react accordingly.

Always Consider Inventory

Since you are counting your inventory more often, you should aim to make this process as easy as possible. This means organizing your location to the best of your ability. If you always keep inventory in mind, you can make cycle counts quicker and more efficient.

Having each item in its right place will also benefit your day-to-day activities. Your workers will know exactly where to find the items they need. As a result, you can improve the efficiency of your overall operations.


Cycle counts can provide a variety of benefits for your firm. In order to take full advantage, there are many practices you can apply. When it comes to cycle counts, the goal is accuracy and these 5 best practices will help you reach that goal.