How to Calculate Inventory Turnover: Ratio Equation & Steps

Scott Schulfer
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    A solid grasp of inventory turnover ratio turns hopeful businesses into proven ones.

    It’s not a stretch to say that, for most companies, the movement of inventory on hand through the supply chain is your business. How good your operation is at that is the strongest indicator of future success. 

    So, how does a company gauge the health of that movement, besides the financial statements? One way is inventory turnover ratio (see what is inventory).

    Inventory turnover ratio shows how efficiently a company handles its incoming inventory from suppliers and its outgoing inventory from warehousing to the rest of the supply chain. Whether you run a B2B business (see what is a B2B company) or direct to consumer (DTC), turnover is vital.

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    What Is Inventory Turnover Ratio?

    Inventory turnover ratio is a measure that shows how many times a business has sold then replaced their inventory over a set time period.

    Looking at the inventory turnover definition, it’s clear that it’s an important metric. It sheds light on how good your business is at selling inventory. And on how many inventory days you've got left.


    What Is Stock to Sales Ratio?

    Stock to sales ratio is an inventory management metric that shows the relationship between the value of your stocked inventory (from using inventory costing methods) and the value of your sales over a given period of time.

    The stock to sales ratio formula is:

    Stock to Sales Ratio = Inventory Stock ($) / Sales ($)

    It’s similar to the inventory turnover ratio meaning, but it relates inventory to total sales, not COGS. And it’s typically calculated for shorter inventory periods, like weeks or months. Whereas inventory turnover ratio tends to be used for longer time frames, like quarters or years.

    How to Calculate Inventory Turnover

    Two things allow you to figure out how to calculate inventory turnover ratio. Those are COGS and average inventory. We’ll assume you already have your COGS. If you don’t, here’s how to calculate COGS and how to calculate ending inventory.

    Average the Inventory

    Average inventory is the estimation of the value ($) or number (units) of certain types of inventory at any given time over a set time period. Here’s how to calculate average inventory level:

    (Beginning Inventory + Ending Inventory) / 2

    All it is is the sum of beginning and ending inventory—from a specific time period—divided by two.

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    Inventory Turnover Formula

    Once you have your COGS and average inventory, the inventory turnover formula is simple:

    Inventory Turnover Ratio = Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) / Average Inventory

    Let’s walk through it step-by-step with an inventory turnover equation example.

    How to Calculate Inventory Turnover Ratio: Example

    To calculate inventory turnover ratio, we need COGS and average inventory. Here’s the step-by-step process. In this example, let's pretend we’re a coffee roasting company calculating inventory turnover ratio for pounds of coffee over a six-month period. Each pound of coffee costs $6.

    Step 1: Determine Inventory Levels

    Let’s say we have 100 pounds of unroasted green coffee beans at the outset. 100 pounds is our beginning inventory. Throughout the six-month period, we receive 500 pounds of unroasted green coffee beans. 500 pounds is our received inventory. At the end of the six-month period, we count our inventory again and we have 80 pounds of unroasted green coffee beans. 80 pounds is our ending inventory.

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    Step 2: Calculate COGS

    Now that you have the three key numbers we need for COGS, we can calculate it.

    Starting inventory = 1000 pounds or $6,000
    Received inventory = 900 pounds $5,400
    Ending inventory = 800 pounds or $4,800
    COGS = $6,000 + $5,400 - $4,800
    COGS = Starting Inventory + Received Inventory - Ending Inventory
    COGS = $6,600

    This number can also be expressed in units to calculate inventory usage rate. This means that, over a period of one month, the cost spent to acquire and produce the bags of coffee that ultimately sold was $6,600.

    Step 3: Calculate Inventory Turnover Ratio

    Inventory Turnover Rate = $6,600 / Average Inventory
    Inventory Turnover Rate = $6,600 / [(Beginning Inventory - Ending Inventory) / 2]
    Inventory Turnover Rate = $6,600 / [($6,000 - $4,800) / 2]
    Inventory Turnover Rate = $6,600 / $600
    Inventory Turnover Rate = 11

    Our business sold and replaced its coffee stock 11 times over the inventory period.

    Using an Inventory Turnover Calculator

    Most businesses calculate inventory turnover ratio using automated inventory management platforms. How to calculate inventory turnover ratio is usually built into that type of software.

    If you’re not keen on manually calculating your inventory turnover ratio, you have two options. First, look into the inventory control automation system you use for an inventory turnover ratio calculator.

    Second, if you don’t have inventory management software or a B2B ecommerce platform, look into getting it. Inventory turnover ratio is one of the most important inventory KPI. You need to be confident that yours is accurate. Computers do that really well.

    What Is a Good Inventory Turnover Ratio?

    Common knowledge states that an inventory turnover rate below 5 isn’t very good. And that most high-performing businesses maintain inventory turnover rates of between 5 and 10.

    But a “good” inventory turnover ratio, like a "good" inventory shrinkage, varies among industries. Here’s some data from that shows average inventory turnover rate across some of the more significant industries:

    Industry Average Annual Inventory Turnover Ratio
    Wholesale trade-durable goods 21
    Wholesale trade-non-durable goods 18
    Grocery stores 16
    Clothing stores 24
    Lumber and wood products 13
    Coal mining 9
    Oil and gas extraction 4
    Computer equipment 25
    Bars and restaurants 3
    Home improvement stores 27

    This is why it’s important to benchmark your ratio. Because inventory turnover ratios differ between industries, don’t hold yourself to an irrelevant standard. Hold yourself to your own historical numbers. Calculate your inventory turnover ratio regularly and compare it against past results to gauge progress. Chart improvement. Control what you can control. That's all you can do.

    What Does High Inventory Turnover Mean?

    High inventory turnover indicates that there is a direct and healthy relationship between the amount of inventory you purchase and the amount you sell.

    By quickly turning raw materials inventory into finished goods inventory and selling them, you’re minimizing inventory carrying cost. You’re also quickly replenishing cash and putting yourself in a position to react to customer and market demands and trends quickly.

    On the other side of the coin, low inventory turnover signals poor purchasing or sales and marketing strategies. Excess inventory inflates carrying costs—and balance sheets take a hit because of all the cash tied up in sitting inventory.

    How to Optimize Inventory Turnover Ratio

    Here are some tips for improving your inventory turnover rate and buffing up your balance sheet:

    • Invest in marketing. Any increase in visibility, demand, and sales--including through an online marketplace--boosts turnover. Assuming you don’t follow that increase up with bigger purchase orders.
    • Make a habit of reviewing your pricing strategy. There’s a fine line between ideal margin and volume. If you can get there, you’ll increase demand and revenue together. If your suppliers require an MOQ (what does MOQ mean?) for a given product, make sure you can sell the same amount.
    • Embrace inventory management. Poor turnover isn’t all supply- or demand-based, as some businesses assume. Often it’s a matter of sharpening up your inventory management strategy and making sure your production process is able to withstand supply and demand. This also includes focusing on inventory tracking.
    • Ditching products that don’t sell. Don’t tax your manufacturing process and storage costs with goods that have low turnover ratios. Focus on the items with demand.
    • Automate your inventory control. Demand forecasting is one particularly helpful functionality in this regard. Inventory management software is out there, waiting to make your life easier and your inventory turnover ratio higher.
    • Optimize your sell through rate. Sell through is similar to inventory turnover, but typically over shorter time frames. Better sell through means better inventory turnover.
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    Frequently Asked Questions About Inventory Turnover Ratio

    Understanding how to calculate your inventory turnover ratio will eliminate deadstock and increase your net sales. Here are some frequently asked questions about inventory turnover ratio.

    What is a Good Inventory Turnover Ratio?

    A good inventory turnover ratio is typically between 5 and 10 for most industries. This means the business will restock inventory every one or two months.

    What Can Inventory Turnover Ratio Tell You?

    Business owners use the inventory turnover ratio to track how often the business replaces inventory compared to the cost of goods sold. A higher ratio is a positive indicator. A low inventory turnover ratio can mean one of the following things:

    • Problems in the sales department;
    • Overstocking;
    • Inadequate marketing strategy;
    • Supply chain disruptions.

    What Are Other Important Inventory Ratios and Formulas?

    There are numerous types of inventory ratios that managers use to track data and analyze business performance. Here are some of them.

    1. Holding inventory ratio. It represents the holding costs divided by the average inventory value. This ratio helps calculate the costs of holding inventory before selling it.
    2. Days sales of inventory ratio. DSI shows managers how long the company holds on to products and goods before selling them. This ratio differs for different products. Generally speaking, goods with longer marketing funnels are expected to sell slower compared to cheap high demand products.
    3. Inventory sell-through rate formula. Dividing units sold by units received can show you the average sell-through rate. It’s an important metric when assessing the ordering process and potential changes in it.

    What Does Inventory Turnover Less Than 1 Mean?

    Less than one inventory turnover means excess inventory. You may have overinvested in inventory if, for instance, you sell 20 units over the course of a year and always have 20 units on hand (a rate of 1). This is because your inventory is far greater than what is required to meet demand.

    What is a Bad Inventory Turnover?

    Bad inventory turnover occurs when stock items take a long time to move through the business. For example, stock goods linger on your shelves for longer than they should, hurting cash flow and driving up carrying costs.

    Inventory Turnover Ratio Is a Gift

    Any company in the business of moving inventory from one point of the supply chain to another must be aware of their inventory turnover ratio. There are differences in value between B2B vs. B2C, but they both benefit greatly by controlling their turnover ratio.

    Not only that, they must be aware of their historical and ideal inventory turnover ratios. By benchmarking your turnover, completing a regular inventory audit, and comparing recent numbers to it, you determine how good your business is at turning raw materials into finished goods. And how to get better at it.

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