At least every year, manufacturers, distributors and retailers typically conduct a physical inventory of their warehouses and shelves to see exactly what’s on hand. Comparing what’s actually there to what your inventory management software shows should be there and what your memory believes is there often reveals striking differences. Rookies quickly update the inventory software and move on with day to day operations. Veterans who’ve driven this process understand these differences aren’t merely numbers to be reconciled but symptoms of inefficiencies. “Of course you’re hoping that what’s on the racks matches what’s in the computer but that’s not likely to happen,” says Mike Dorsey, vice president of manufacturing for plastics design and manufacturer Meese Orbitron Dunne Co. “Any difference in the item count is an opportunity to find a hole in the process, close it up and become more efficient.” At some companies, it’s common for outdated, obsolete or just poor-selling parts and products to sit on the racks for years, being given little attention until their rediscovery during inventory. This seems like how many companies approach their Web sites.
More and more companies are adding product information, photography, videos, news, pdfs and other content to their sites on a regular basis but few companies seem to remove it…any of it…ever…until someone poking around the site while awaiting a flight finds something that shouldn’t be there anymore. Rather than wait for a situation like this, I recommend conducting a Web site inventory. It’s very simple. Just look at every page on your Web site, read every article, look at the pictures and captions and make sure the site is presenting your company and products in the finest possible light.
Here are some common items to check:
- Email addresses for people who are no longer with the company
- Email addresses and forms that send messages to nowhere
- Product specifications that are no longer accurate
- Products that are no longer offered
- Videos that don’t load, take too long to load or link to competitors’ videos at the end
- Computer renderings when photography is now available
- Once-fancy java scripts that don’t work
- Flash programming that doesn’t work on iPhones or Macs
- Pricing from last year
- Trade show schedule from last year
Your customers and prospects are already doing this Web site inventory for you but they won’t tell you what they find. They’ll just leave your Website.
Just as a physical inventory may reveal holes in the system, your Web site inventory may reveal patterns that point to systemic flaws in how content is developed and added to the site. Establishing guidelines that address and correct these flaws helps ensure that your Web site is always up to date, complete and sporting the fresh, useful content that keeps your Google rankings high and moves prospects towards sales.