If you find yourself perpetually out of paper towels, dish soap, or other household essentials, why not steal a simple inventory management trick from the business world?
Do you know what your local grocer doesn’t do? They don’t wait until someone has purchased the last bottle of dish detergent to order more. Nor do they let the sum stock of the entire paper towel aisle drift down to zero before calling in a semi-trailer or two full of paper products.
While the stocking methodology for big-box retailers is sophisticated, the key concept you can (and should) steal from their workflow is called the “reorder point.” It’s the point at which a business orders more of a given product because their existing stocks are low and the goal is never to have empty shelves and disappointed customers.
Have a little extra storage space around your home? You can apply the same concept on a less sophisticated scale (no management team or nation-wide logistical network required). Buy two of the basic staples you need the next time you go shopping, and then buy a replacement when the first item runs out. Your “reorder point” for all household staples then becomes “when I only have one” instead of “oh no, I’m out!”—so then you and the rest of the “customers” in your household can skip the disappointment of empty shelves.
Buy two jugs of laundry detergent, buy a replacement when the first jug runs out. Buy two containers of cleaning wipes, buy a new one when the first runs out. Tampons? Face wipes? Shampoo? You got it—if you use it regularly and it’s a hassle to run out of it, buy a second one and keep the “buy one when the first runs out” system rolling.
You’ll spend a small amount of extra money upfront, and you’ll sacrifice a little bit of storage space. But going forward, you’ll always have extra laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and other shelf-stable essentials on hand. Then when life gets hectic around the holidays or if there’s a nasty cold that hits everyone in your household, you can coast for a little bit on the “backup” supplies if need be—and nobody needs to make a toilet paper run high on cough syrup.