Inventory Counting: Is It the Worst Job You Can Have in Retail?

There are two types of jobs in this world. First, you can have a job that you do just because you love it. Secondly, you can have a job you hate but cope with it because you need the money. No job is ever perfect and without challenges, but inventory-taking seems to top everything.


That being said, retail has many very challenging jobs. What exactly makes retail so special, then? Is it the worst job that you can get? And if so, why is that? Find out why people keep leaving retail, why they hate stock-taking in particular, and if there’s anything that could make the job less stressful and hateful.

What Makes Employees in Retail Leave Their Positions

According to surveys and interviews, more and more people are quitting – and it is not necessarily because of the money. Depending on the location, a job in retail can be very rewarding, financially, at least.

The problem is that in the world of retail, the employee turnover rate is around 69.7%. The majority of the employees would quit their job voluntarily, suggesting that there is indeed a problem.

Around 31.2% of people working in retail say that inventory counting was the worst part of the job. People were constantly leaving their jobs simply because they did not find them meaningful or flexible.


Whether counting items manually or scanning them one by one, they would not reach any career accomplishments. The job was way too tedious and time-consuming for what it was worth.

Why everyone hates inventory counting?

Aside from the fact that inventory counting seems to have zero job satisfaction, several aspects make it especially bothersome. Here are some of the main reasons why people hate doing inventory:

It’s Highly Tedious
Taking inventory may seem easy, but it is very tedious. You need to scan and count each item one at a time, writing everything down at that exact moment. If you are keeping a book with the data, it can take a full day for an entire team to do the inventory in a warehouse.

This becomes even more frustrating these days as more and more retail centers experience chronic understaffing. As a result, workers are overloaded with tedious stock-taking work, sometimes taking more than a day.


Inventory in itself is also very time-consuming. Many people working in the retail industry have multiple other tasks to oversee. This can include online orders, training, and many more.


By counting each separate item and writing it down in the lodge, they waste precious time that could have been used more efficiently. Depending on the size of the warehouse, this can also lead to overworking, causing the employees to do more overtime than they are comfortable with.

It’s Easy to Lose Track

During inventory efforts, people are required to count or scan each object manually. The problem is that bigger inventories are more challenging to keep track of. Unless you have an excellent attention span, it’s easy to forget where you are at with your inventory.


For example, an employee may be doing their job in the warehouse, only to be interrupted by a coworker. This disrupts their flow and causes them to forget where they are with the counting. As a result, they are forced to start again.


This may also happen if you forget to count. For instance, you may have numerous stocks that look the same. It takes one moment to forget to count an item or two, and all of your work will come undone


Inaccuracies Can Be Costly for Businesses


As a business owner, you need to be aware of anything that you have in your inventory. Inaccuracies can turn out very costly, especially considering how demand keeps changing. 


Trends significantly affect a buyer’s behavior, creating different flows in your warehouse. This pressures employees, as many try to do inventories based on average calculations. If the trend changes and more items are sold or kept in the inventory, it can cause discrepancies.


One small mistake can lead to the employee being fired, leaving a black mark on their resume. This is why many leave before that happens.

Can Inventory Be Made Less Tedious?

Inventory management in itself is incredibly complex. One may think that counting one item at a time is not that big of a deal. Still, when you do this every day and night, it becomes a dull activity. As an employee, you feel like you are wasting your time needlessly.


Scanners have gone a long way to help us reduce the time spent in inventory. Workers only have to scan the barcode, and the item is featured in the registry. However, this did not take away the problem of having to go through all the items separately.


For example, while scanners allow you to take inventory of an item quickly, there is always the risk of double scanning (or forgetting to scan). One moment of inattention (i.e., answering a co-worker for one second) disrupts the workflow. This could still lead to inaccuracies.


Nowadays, companies have undertaken the use of inventory management apps. Depending on the app, workers can scan multiple items simultaneously or keep track of the items that come into the warehouse. It will pass through the algorithm and update the data whenever an item is purchased or sold.


The problem is that only a few companies use this type of software. Most still need to be counted by hand or scanned separately, making the job very difficult to deal with.

The Bottom Line


According to popular opinion, inventory counting is the worst job you can do in retail. Separately counting each item can strain your work satisfaction, which is why so many people are leaving retail. Unless adequate software becomes a standard tool, it’s not likely the opinion will change.

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