All about inventory turnover: calculation, meaning and optimization

Introduction to inventory turnover

Definition of inventory turnover rate

Inventory turnover rate is a business indicator that shows how often a company's entire inventory is turned over or replaced by sales within a certain period of time, typically one year. This key figure is crucial for evaluating the efficiency of warehouse management and provides information on how well a company is utilizing its resources. Optimizing inventory turnover is therefore a critical aspect of modern supply chain management.

Why is the inventory turnover rate important for companies?

The inventory turnover rate is crucial for any company that stores, processes and sells products for a number of reasons:

  • Reduce tied-up capital: The faster a company can turn over its stock, the less capital is tied up in unsold goods. This improves liquidity and enables the company to invest the freed-up capital.
  • Reduce storage costs: High stock turnover rates are often associated with lower storage costs, as less space and fewer resources are required for storage.
  • Ensure freshness and quality: In sectors such as food and fashion, where products are subject to rapid expiry or change, a high stock turnover helps to maintain the freshness and relevance of the range.
  • Better fulfill customer needs: An efficient inventory turnover rate ensures that products are actually available when they are requested. Customer satisfaction is ensured and the risk of "out of stock" is reduced.
  • Market adaptability: Companies with a fast inventory turnover are more agile. They can react more quickly to market changes. They can pick up on new trends and adapt their product lines accordingly without having to manage obsolete stock.

How to calculate the inventory turnover rate?

The formula for calculating the inventory turnover rate

The inventory turnover rate is calculated using the following simple formula:

  • Turnover: Turnover describes the total value of goods sold in the period under review. In some cases, the "cost of goods sold" is used instead of turnover in order to obtain a more accurate estimate of the so-called cost of goods sold.
  • Average stock level: This is calculated by adding the value of the stock level at the beginning of the period to the value at the end of the period and dividing the result by two. It can also be useful to use a shorter period, e.g. a monthly or quarterly average, if stock levels fluctuate greatly.

Step-by-step instructions for calculation with examples

The following step-by-step instructions show how to calculate and interpret the inventory turnover rate in different business contexts. Adapting this calculation to individual circumstances and industry standards is important for accurate analysis and successful inventory management.

Example 1: Retail store

The result means that the retail business turns over its entire stock around 5.56 times a year.

Example 2: Production company

  • Cost of goods sold: 1,200,000 euros.
  • Monthly inventories: January: 150,000 euros, February: 130,000 euros, ..., December: 140,000 euros.
  • Average stock level: Average of monthly stock levels over the year.

Let's calculate the average stock level by adding up all monthly stocks divided by 12:


This means that the production company turns over its stock around 8.57 times a year, which indicates efficient stock management and fast production cycles.

The importance of inventory turnover

How does the inventory turnover rate influence business efficiency?

Inventory turnover is a key indicator of inventory management efficiency and therefore has a direct impact on a company's financial health and operational performance. A high inventory turnover rate indicates that a company is managing its inventory effectively. This leads to various positive effects:

  • Improved cash flow position: Faster sale of stored goods reduces tied-up capital, improving the company's liquidity and freeing up funds for other operational investments or debt repayment.
  • Lower storage costs: Fast turnaround reduces the costs associated with storing products, including rent, insurance and spoilage. This leads to a reduction in total cost of ownership.
  • Minimize losses through depreciation: Products that turn over quickly are less likely to be outdated or obsolete, which is particularly beneficial in fast-moving industries such as technology or fashion.

Comparison of inventory turnover rates in different industries

The inventory turnover rate can vary greatly depending on the type of industry, the products and the market dynamics. An industry comparison provides an important orientation for evaluating your own inventory turnover rate:

  • Retail: In retail, especially for perishable goods such as food, a high inventory turnover rate is crucial to ensure product freshness. Supermarket chains often aim for high turnover rates to minimize product loss and maximize freshness. Reliable and forward-looking planning of incoming goods is a basic prerequisite for this.
  • Fashion industry: In the fashion industry, where trends change quickly, a high inventory turnover is also critical to success in order to avoid write-offs on goods that are no longer in demand and to be able to react to new trends.
  • Heavy industry: In industries such as mechanical engineering or steel production, the inventory turnover rate can be lower, as the products often have a longer manufacturing time and are customized based on project specifications and contract manufacturing. Nevertheless, care must be taken, especially when planning incoming goods, to ensure that storage areas do not overflow or that crucial production parts are not missing so as not to jeopardize subsequent processes.
  • Pharmaceutical industry: In the pharmaceutical industry, the turnover rate is often medium-high, as there is a need to make critical medicines available quickly and strict regulations regarding storage and shelf life must be observed.

Optimization of stock turnover rate

Best practices for improving stock turnover rates

Below are some best practices that companies can use to optimize their inventory turnover rate:

  • Just-in-time deliveries: By reducing inventory levels and synchronizing deliveries with production demand, companies can minimize storage costs while increasing efficiency.
  • Improved demand forecasting: Using advanced analytical tools to more accurately predict customer demand can help avoid overstocking and increase inventory turnover rates.
  • Automating warehouse management: Modern warehouse management systems (WMS) can help to manage stock more efficiently, reduce storage time and increase productivity.
  • Supplier diversification and shorter procurement cycles: By working with multiple suppliers and optimizing procurement times, companies can increase flexibility and reduce the risk of stock shortages.
  • Regularly review and adjust stock levels: Companies should regularly review and adjust their stock levels to ensure that they meet current market requirements.

Innovative strategies and technologies

To increase inventory turnover, companies can draw on a range of innovative strategies and technologies aimed at increasing efficiency and accuracy in warehouse management:

  • Use of RFID technology: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) enables faster and more accurate recording of stock movements. By automatically identifying and locating items in Sites , companies can update their stocks in real time and improve inventory control.
  • Drone technology for inventory processes: Using drones for inventory can significantly reduce the time it takes to take inventory while increasing accuracy. Drones can reach hard-to-access areas and improve safety during the inventory process.
  • Advanced analytics and machine learning: By using advanced analytics, companies can identify patterns and trends in their sales data that can be used to optimize inventory levels. Machine learning can help refine demand forecasts and improve inventory turns through more accurate ordering processes.
  • Optimization of incoming goods: modern software solutions for supplier management and Time slot management increase the transparency of the flow of goods and help to close the gap between orders and deliveriesannouncement . This makes it possible to reliably plan subsequent processes in production and delivery to customers. Valuable storage space is saved.


Inventory turnover is a key performance indicator that not only provides information on the efficiency of warehouse management, but also has a direct impact on the financial health of a company. It helps to reduce capital commitment, lower storage costs and increase market adaptability.

A company that continuously analyses and optimizes its inventory turnover rate can not only minimize losses due to outdated or overstocked products, but also increase customer satisfaction by improving the availability of goods. However, industry comparisons show that there is no single "optimal" inventory turnover rate, as this depends heavily on the type of business and the products.

Improving inventory turnover rates requires a holistic strategy. Proven methods such as digital goods-in planning, just-in-time deliveries, improved demand forecasting and automated warehouse management offer valuable support. Innovative technologies such as RFID, drones and advanced analytics can further increase the efficiency and accuracy of warehouse management.

Ultimately, the success of a higher inventory turnover rate depends on a company's ability to regularly review its processes, respond flexibly to market changes and use innovative strategies. More efficient warehouse management leads to better results, increases competitiveness and contributes to a sustainable improvement in company performance.

About the author



Successes of our clients

No items found.
More success stories

Posts you might like

All contributions
TardeLink Logo
Immediately increase the productivity of your logistics
Transparency & reliability for the entire company
Transition to proactive logistics
60-day money-back guarantee