ABC Inventory Analysis: A Step-by-Step Guide

 ABC Inventory Analysis: A Step-by-Step Guide

Our comprehensive ABC Analysis guide is meticulously designed to not only walk you through the intricacies of implementing ABC analysis but also equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions. With a focus on practicality and effectiveness, we aim to support you in enhancing operational efficiencies, reducing costs, and ultimately driving your business toward greater success. Join us as we explore the fundamentals of ABC Inventory Analysis, offering insights and strategies that align with your goals for sustainability and growth.


In today’s fast-paced business environment, optimizing inventory management is crucial for maintaining a competitive edge. The ABC Inventory Analysis emerges as a strategic tool, empowering organizations to categorize inventory based on its importance and impact on overall investment and customer satisfaction. Take a look at our earlier articles on Demystifying Manufacturing Inventory and ABC Analysis for Supply Chain Optimization.


ABC Analysis Guide

Step 1: Gathering Data

Before launching into the intricacies of an ABC analysis, you need the right data. The first step calls for precision: gather information on the items in your inventory. To collect this data, consider the following actions:

  • Identify the Items to be Analyzed: Start by defining the scope of your analysis. Select a particular product line or the whole inventory.
  • Collect Sales, Usage, and Cost Data: You need three essential pieces of information:
  • The number of units sold or used over a period (usually a year).
  • The price of each unit to calculate the total value.
  • The cost to procure or produce each unit.

Remember, accuracy at this stage translates to more reliable results later.

Step 2: Calculate Total Value

With your data in hand, it’s time to crunch some numbers. Take each item you’ve gathered data on and calculate the total value using the following formula:


Total value = (Cost per unit) x (Number of units sold/used)


For example, if a product costs $15 per unit and 1,000 units were sold, the total value for this item would be $15,000.

Step 3: Rank Items

Once you’ve calculated the total value for all items, rank them in descending order from highest to lowest value. This ranking is crucial as it will help identify the items that have the most significant financial impact on your business.

Step 4: Calculate Cumulative Value

Now, it’s time to calculate the cumulative value for each item. Begin by adding the total value of the first item to the total value of the second, then the third, and so on, until all items have been included. This value represents the combined total of top-selling products, allowing you to discern the importance of each item in relation to the whole.


Cumulative value = Total value of item 1 + Total value of item 2 + … + Total value of item n


Step 5: Determine Categories

Divide the items into three categories, A, B, and C, based on their cumulative value.

  • Category A: These items represent the highest value and typically the smallest percentage of the inventory. They are the most critical to monitor closely and might need stricter controls.
  • Category B: Moderately valued items that fall in the middle, usually around 20-30% of the inventory value.
  • Category C: Relatively low in value, but often the highest in number. They usually form the majority of the inventory, around 50-70%.

Deciding the value or threshold for each category is arbitrary and will depend on the needs and goals of your organization.

Depending on your industry, you may have identified that some products represent a high value while their usage is very low. They may indicate items that are strategically purchased and stored because of their importance, their difficulty in getting replacements, or the consequences if they are not available. These are the products that we identify as “S”, strategic items, a fourth category.

Step 6: Analyze Categories

Understand the implications of each category:

  • For Category A items, focus on tight inventory control and supplier management. These items might demand a closer relationship with suppliers to ensure service levels are maintained.
  • Category B items might require a more dynamic ordering policy. Your main goal with these items is to establish an ordering strategy that minimizes stockouts and overstocks while maximizing inventory turnover.
  • For Category C items, efficiency is key. Large numbers demand efficient storage and handling.
  • For Category S items, the same principles than Category A applies, but in addition, these are products that need to be managed tightly regarding their life expectancy. For example, a product that is made of rubber will have a shelf life of approximately 2 years. Having the item in stock and ready for usage requires the product to be below the 2 years. Hence, managing this product with its specifications is essential to ensure that it is available and ready for use when needed.

Step 7: Develop Strategies

Formulate retention and purchase policies for each category:

  • For Category A, you might perform frequent cycle counts to ensure that the ERP data is matching the physical data. Another option of to opt for a “just-in-time” approach to procurement to reduce carrying costs. See our article “Just-in-time or Just-in-case procurement?”
  • With Category B, employ a periodic review system combined with reorder points to trigger replenishment.
  • Category C items often benefit from economic order quantities and periodic review, given they generally have stable usage patterns.
  • Category S items will require a frequent validation of their status and availability for usage. Orders will be more sporadic for these items, but understanding the lead time of suppliers will be critical in establishing procurement strategy.

Your strategies should not only consider inventory control but also the broader supply chain and customer demand forecasting.


Performing an ABC inventory analysis brings clarity to your stock management efforts and directly contributes to profitability. The detailed insights you gather through this analysis will guide you in setting optimal stock levels, enhancing customer service, and streamlining purchasing and production processes. Take the time to go through these steps and enjoy the tangible benefits of improved inventory management.

You have all you need here to get started. But if you need some support, we can work alongside you! Let’s elevate your inventory management to new heights together. By leveraging the power of ABC inventory analysis, you are positioning your business for enhanced efficiency and increased profitability. Take the decisive step now: implement these strategies and witness the transformation in your operations. Our team is ready to support you on this journey, ensuring that each phase of the process is executed flawlessly. Partner with us to turn your inventory management into a cornerstone of your business success.

Contact us today to begin crafting your personalized inventory solution.


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