Last Updated:
April 19, 2022

Liquor inventory software 101: All the basics you need to know

Learn all about liquor inventory software -- what it is, why you need it, and how much it costs.
Liquor inventory software 101: All the basics you need to know
Bogdan Patynski
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When it comes to choosing the right liquor inventory software, there is a dizzyingly large number of factors to consider. Whether you’re currently using a bar inventory spreadsheet or are not entirely happy with your current software, you want to ensure you make the right decision based on your bar or restaurant’s unique needs.

Not sure where to start? That’s ok, we’re here to help!

In this article, we’ll break down not only what you need to consider before committing to a new inventory system, but also what you need to know about inventory in general, including why it’s important. Keep reading to get started on the path to better inventory.

What is a liquor inventory software?

First comes the basics. What really is liquor inventory software? It is composed of tools and programs to manage, and in many cases automate, your bar inventory process. To understand everything liquor inventory software can accomplish, let’s first define what managing inventory is.

Inventory management is the process of analyzing your bar supply to determine what you have, making the most of what you have, and using the insights you gain to make more informed purchases and decisions. To calculate liquor inventory, you first need to evaluate the amount of product you have in-house. That’s your inventory. You then find your usage, which is the amount of inventory divided by the amount used within a certain window of time.

In addition, constantly counting inventory and usage has a tendency to be time-consuming and mind-numbing. When conducted manually, the process is likely to lead to human error, miscounts, and other mistakes. That doesn’t even take into account using inventory information to make data-driven decisions to improve your bar’s efficiency.

That’s where software comes into play. Rather than doing everything on your own, or with sub-par tools, a state-of-the-art bar inventory software will cut down on the time spent conducting inventory. This will ultimately lead to saving you large sums of money. However, the true benefit of using software is that it doesn’t stop there. It also provides useful insights and information on liquor usage and how to optimize it.

We’ll dive more into those benefits next but, in short, using a bar inventory app makes a lengthy and error-ridden process shorter and more accurate. It’s an overall win for your employees’ time, your bottom line, and your bar’s productivity.

Why do you need it?

Now that you know what liquor inventory software can do, let’s talk about why it’s important. While increased productivity and precise inventory counts are obviously important, the top benefit of using bar management software is to consistently get insights into your business, employee performance, customer behaviors, and purchasing needs. An inventory application can provide all of this and more.

Let’s take a closer look at what to expect from inventory tools and why you need them at your bar.

Software helps avoid mistakes in inventory management, which can be disastrous. Without an accurate picture of what you have on hand, you run the risk of stocking too little inventory and your bar will lose out on prospective sales. On the other hand, too much inventory requires additional storage space and increase the risk of dead stock or excess waste.

With accurate inventory management, you’ll avoid these catastrophic consequences. More than that, though, you’ll be able to use your sales data to improve your offerings. Software helps you make better sales predictions to plan for busy and slow seasons. On a whole, it can offer insight into the best promotions to run, the most profitable drinks, and the best liquor brands to order to maximize your profit.

Determining your pour costs and drink prices based on your current and predicted sales will continue to make you more money down the line. In the short term, software saves time by automating processes that otherwise use valuable minutes and manpower. Automated purchase orders, integrated scales, and other tools make inventory stress-free and easy.

Lastly, the longer you use inventory software, the smarter it gets. Using it long-term provides you with a database of information on changing customer tastes and habits so you can learn from your past performances. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to make better decisions for the future of your business.

Why do bars and restaurants take inventory?

If you’ve ever worked at a bar, you know the pain of inventory management. Often lasting well into the early hours of the morning or taking up time on valuable days off, it’s easy to wonder if it really is worth all the trouble.

There are a number of reasons why bars and restaurants deem inventory worthy of their time and why you should too.

Top Reasons for Doing Liquor Inventory

First, it prevents you from running out of stock. Customers hate hearing that you’re out of their favorite drink and, if it becomes a recurring problem, it could start to permanently drive out your clientele. With a regular inventory process, you’ll always know when you’re about to run out of a particular product and can place new orders to prevent it.

Secondly, inventory protects your bottom line. It’s your bar’s largest asset and it’s critical not to misuse it. Keeping track of how much product you have and the types you have is the first step, followed by monitoring which sell best and which do not. This will help you make better decisions in the future.

Third, taking inventory will confirm whether your business and marketing plans are working.

For example, you may read that spiked seltzers are all the rage right now and add several cases to your purchase orders to start stocking them in your bar. Without taking accurate inventory to track sales, you won’t know whether those seltzers are popular with your customer base. If you continue to order them, you may be wasting money and storage space with a product that doesn’t sell.

In another example, you may run a promotion on tequila shots in July to boost your summer sales. However, your promotion causes you to run out of tequila too quickly and your bartenders are forced to use more expensive brands in mixed drinks, costing you money. Without conducting inventory, you won’t learn from missteps like these.

Lastly, inventory helps you identify when you need to retrain your team or make new hires. Some shrinkage, or lost product from spills and over pouring, is to be expected. But if you’re constantly experiencing large losses in product, there may be underlying issues.

bottles, bar, alcohol, liquor inventory software, wisk

The Most Common Inventory Issues

Over pouring and spills are prime examples. These can often be remedied with employee trainings and involving the team in inventory processes, such as setting team goals for the end of each week that everyone works to meet.

Free drinks might also be a culprit. This can be remedied with additional training, along with candid conversations about a maximum number of free drinks allowed per night.

In some cases, employee theft might also be responsible for excessive product used. While it’s never a fun topic to address, employee theft can cost bars and restaurants up to 25% of gross sales. Simply taking consistent inventory discourages employees from attempting to steal product and can help you identify exactly when theft occurs in order to prevent it.

How to Measure Liquor Bottles for Inventory

One of the key aspects of consistent inventory is knowing how to properly measure bottles. While this can be done manually with a regular scale, the best way to ensure accuracy is to use a liquor scale app. From there, the process is relatively simple.

  • First, use a scale to weigh a full bottle of each product. Finding each bottle’s full weight is necessary to calculate usage later.
  • Then, calculate the adjusted fluid ounce size of every product. To do this, multiple fluid ounces by density.
  • Now, find the weight of the empty bottle by taking the full bottle weight and subtracting the adjusted bottle size.
  • After, place the bottle on the scale and record the weight. Full bottle weight minus the empty bottle weight equals the fluid ounces in the bottle.
  • Next, calculate your usage for each bottle. To do this, subtract the ending weight data from the starting weight data.
  • Lastly, keep track of any new bottles that are added to stock between the starting and ending period.

Most importantly, if your bartender pours dozens of drinks for your customers and leaves empty whole bottles as well as partially empty bottles. You need to be sure to account for everything that was used in the interim, including all full bottles and partial bottles when you measure your stock. This is extremely crucial for exact counts.

5 Benefits of Using Bar Inventory Software

There are many benefits to using a good liquor inventory software. Here, we break down a few of the top ones to expect when you decide to make the switch.

1) Avoid unforeseen circumstances

First and foremost, a good liquor management app will give you a better handle on your business and make your life much less stressful. To explain, it works by helping you avoid unnecessary situations like placing rush orders, experiencing employee theft and under stocking your bar. Simply knowing how much stock you have on hand goes a long way in making it easier to handle day-to-day tasks. It also allows you to start focusing on business strategy, customer happiness, and more.

2) Reduce waste

Beyond being unnecessary, waste is costly and a barrier to maximizing profits for your bar. Taking regular inventory allows you to be aware of where waste is happening, whether it’s over-pouring, under-stocking, spillage or not using the most profitable brands of liquor. Once you know where waste is occurring, you are better able to implement measures to address it.

3) Optimize your time

Inventory is a notoriously time-consuming process. Software helps reduce the amount of time you spend in your back room, counting each and every bottle there and calculating endless bar inventory formulas. Instead of spending all of your time counting your stock, you can better spend it serving your customers, employees, and improving your business overall. Software not only saves you time, it quickly and easily provides insights beyond what you can get manually.

4) Make use of integrations

An app that integrates with your POS system makes the inventory process even easier. It also helps provide knowledge about your sales and how to improve menu prices, set pars, and more. When shopping for software, look for a version that integrates with your existing technology and includes all the tools you need in one system rather than purchasing many different tools.

5) Get helpful reporting and analytics

Beyond time-saving and convenience, a good alcohol inventory app will provide you with analytics, so you can plan for future growth. With the right analytics, you’ll be able to not only buy the correct amount of alcohol needed to meet demands, but also generate promotions and bundles around best selling pairs. Potential opportunities to increase sales based on analytics include changing customer preferences, optimizing drink recipes, and more.

5 Best Practices for Managing Your Bar Inventory System

With those benefits in mind, it’s important that you not only find an app with the right features for your business but implement these best practices to ensure you get the most out of the tools.

1) Involve your staff

As mentioned earlier, involving your staff by providing some trainingand knowledge on the inventory process can help make the whole team more invested in using product efficiently. While you don’t want to give your entire staff access to every detail, providing helpful information and incentives around inventory use can be extremely beneficial to overall management and employee morale.

2) Use the “first in, first out” method

This time-tested strategy is fairly self-explanatory. Make it a priority in your bar or restaurant to use the oldest stock first. This helps prevent stock from getting lost on the back of a shelf and keeps perishable items from expiring before they can even be used. It’s best to organize your back room accordingly to make this method second nature for your whole team.

3) Stock emergency inventory

While a good system will largely help you avoid rush orders or under-stocking, it is still a good idea to keep extra stock on hand. You may experience a busy period when you didn’t expect it or see a sudden increase in demand for a specific product. You may also experience lost stock because of a leak, natural disaster, or other circumstances. Whatever the case, it will give you peace of mind to know you have bottles stocked up in case of an emergency.

4) Analyze trends over time

As mentioned above, one of the benefits of investing in software is getting long-term information on your customers and their habits. Make sure to put this valuable data to use. Analyze how your sales change month-over-month and year-over-year for the most accurate picture of seasonal and yearly trends. This will help you prepare for upcoming busy and slow seasons, as well as make changes to your menu without losing customers.

5) Set limits & automate purchase orders

While having some emergency stock is a good idea, you never want to consistently over stock your bar. Over stocking leads to dead stock and this is an easy way to lose a lot of cash. Luckily, liquor inventory software can help here too. All you have to do is set maximum and minimum storage levels for your products. Then, the platform will automate purchase ordersbased on the limits you set and how much inventory you have on hand.

Get It All With WISK

Looking for a liquor inventory software that stands out from the others? Besides being highly intelligent, organized, and efficient, WISK allows you to do more.

With WISK, you can scan beverage barcodes, weigh bottles, search from a database of over 50,000 liquors, integrate with any POS system, and more.

The best part about WISK, though, is the top-notch customer service you can expect. Get 24/7 access to our team of experts and easy month-to-month contracts. Partner with a company that has your best interests in mind. For more about our inventory features, visit


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