What is Inventory?


While we often discuss inventory in terms of goods for sale, organizations – manufacturers, service-providers  also have inventories (fixtures, furniture, supplies, etc.) that they do not intend to sell. Manufacturers’, distributors’, and wholesalers’ inventory tends to cluster in warehouses. Retailers’ inventory may exist in a warehouse or in a shop or store accessible to customers. Inventories not intended for sale to customers or to clients may be held in any premises an organization uses. Stock ties up cash and, if uncontrolled, it will be impossible to know the actual level of stocks and therefore difficult to keep the costs associated with holding too much or too little inventory under control.

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While the reasons for holding stock were covered earlier, most manufacturing organizations usually divide their “goods for sale” inventory into:

  • Raw materials –materials and components scheduled for use in making a product.
  • Work in process, WIP – materials and components that have begun their transformation to finished goods. These are used in process of manufacture and as such these are neither raw material nor finished goods.
  • Finished goods – goods ready for sale to customers.

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