What is Wall-to-Wall Inventory?
Wall-to-wall inventor is an inventory management technique in which material enters a plant and is processed through the plant into finished goods without ever having entered a formal stock area.
Stocktakes and wall-to-wall inventory
With a wall-to-wall inventory all products are counted in one period of time. The length of this period differs from 3 till 5 hours from retail stores up to a full day or a weekend for warehouses. During the inventory all products will be counted from wall to wall, generally without exceptions. That is the main difference with inventory cycle count.
What is a Stocktake?
A stocktake, also called an inventory count, is the act of counting and recording the inventory items your company currently has on hand. This is done to check whether the numbers match the data in your inventory management system as well as to identify inventory shrinkage. As such, it is a crucial part of any business that deals with the manufacture and/or sale of products.
What is the Difference Between Full Physical Count vs. Cycle Count?
There are a couple of key approaches to stocktakes: a full physical count and cycle counting. A full physical count, also known as a wall-to-wall count, means counting the whole inventory all at once. This means daily operations need to be shut down for the stocktake, which may signify many lost business hours. That is why many companies that perform full physical counts do it after the facility is closed for the day. For companies that operate 24/7, however, this approach may prove to be highly disruptive, especially when stocktakes are done frequently.
Another method of stocktaking is the cycle count. During a cycle count, only a part of the total inventory is counted at a time, meaning that operations can continue without much disruption, with only some of the stock-keeping units affected. To further minimize disruption caused by the stocktake, it would be feasible to choose items to be included in a single count by their location in the warehouse. You can also use ABC analysis to determine which items are more valuable to the business and therefore require more frequent counts.
During the count the operations are, in most cases, paused as long as the inventory takes. Depending on the data processing method and logistic planning, the business operations can start during the count or not. For retailers it is important to count outside opening hours and preferably outside more expensive hours, such as weekends or late nights (this differs per country). Wall to wall inventory counts in warehouses should be done at moments with the least operational impact.