Stock Level

Updated on January 5, 2024
Article byPriya Choubey
Edited byAlfina
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Stock Level Definition

Stock Level is an indispensable part of inventory management that refers to the optimal quantity of raw materials or goods an organization needs to maintain at a given time to confirm a smooth flow of business operations. Different stock levels indicate the requirement of a specific action.

Stock Level

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It is a calculated size of inventory a business should have to avoid stockouts or overstocking of material. While stockouts refer to situations where a product is out of stock or unavailable for customers, overstocking indicates having excess inventory that might become obsolete over time. Hence, companies employ various methods, such as demand forecasting and inventory turnover ratios, to efficiently determine and optimize their stock levels.

Key Takeaways

  • Stock level is the standard amount of inventory a firm is supposed to keep for uninterrupted production and business operations. 
  • Striking a balance in inventory management is crucial to avoid excess inventory or stockouts. While stockouts can disrupt production activities, overstocking can result in material obsolescence, blocked capital, and high storage, insurance, and depreciation costs.
  • It is vital for customer satisfaction, cost management, production efficiency and business decision-making. 
  • Several factors influence these decisions, including demand estimation, ordering cost, market trend, supply chain efficiency, government regulations, lead time, economic order quantity, and holding inventory costs.

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Stock Level Explained

Stock levels indicate the different stock levels required for the optimal running of production activities and operations. These decisions in business pertaining to minimum, maximum, re-order and danger levels of inventory are influenced by various factors. The foremost considerations include accurate forecasting of customer demand, lead time and safety stock, cost of storage, insurance and depreciation, and overall cost of placing an order. Moreover, determining the economic order quantity minimizes total inventory costs. The maintenance of safety stock depends on the regularity and efficiency of the suppliers in delivering material on time. 

Other vital drivers comprise seasonal demand patterns and monitoring market trends and consumer behavior to prevent overstocking or stockouts. Government-imposed restrictions and regulations, especially in industries like pharmaceuticals or food, pose risks related to inventory. Also, events like natural disasters or geopolitical issues can disrupt the supply chain, leading to sudden stock shortages or delays, necessitating agile stock management strategies. Stock levels in cost accounting are indispensable for business sustainability and profitability.

Thus, maintaining appropriate stock levels is essential for businesses since it ensures timely order fulfillment and enhances customer satisfaction. It also helps organizations achieve economies of scale, foster strong supplier relationships, and optimize production efficiency by meeting steady demand. However, excessive stock levels can increase storage costs, potential obsolescence, and tied-up capital. It may also result in wastage, higher susceptibility to damage or theft, and difficulties in responding to market shifts.

Conversely, maintaining low stock levels or Just-In-Time inventory offers cost savings, improved cash flow, and flexibility. Nonetheless, striking a balance is crucial to mitigate risks related to supply chain disruptions and abrupt changes in customer demand.

Types

Maintaining appropriate inventory levels is crucial for businesses to maintain seamless operations and customer satisfaction and requires many calculations and forecasting abilities. Stock levels in inventory management can be of five different kinds, as discussed below:

  1. Minimum Level: It represents the lower limit of stock quantity that should be available with the firm before a new order is placed. Falling below this level may lead to stockouts.
  2. Maximum Level: Also known as carrying cost or stock ceiling, it is the upper limit for the quantity of stock that a business wants to hold at any given point. Going above this level ties up capital and storage space, resulting in overstocking.
  3. Reordering Level: It is the inventory level at which a new order should be placed to replenish stock before it runs out, taking into account lead time, safety stock and usage rate.
  4. Average Stock Level: It is the average of the minimum and maximum stock levels. Thus, it helps determine an optimal stock level that balances the costs of holding inventory and the costs associated with stockouts.
  5. Danger Level: Such a situation is often considered problematic for organizations since, at this point, the inventory falls beyond the minimum level, threatening the temporary halt of production. This stage requires immediate restocking of goods.

Formula

The formulae for determining the different types of stock levels are as follows:

  • Minimum Level = (Maximum usage × Maximum lead time) – (Average usage × Average lead time)
  • Maximum level = Reordering level + Reordering Quantity – (Minimum Consumption x Minimum Reordering period)
  • Reordering Level = Average Consumption x Maximum reorder period for emergency purchases.
  • Average stock Level = Minimum stock Level + 1/2 of Reordering Quantity
  • Danger Level = Average Consumption x Maximum reorder period for emergency purchases

Examples

Moving ahead, let us discuss some examples to comprehend the need to maintain stock levels in a real business scenario:

Example #1

Suppose a cafe serving coffee and bakery goods needs to maintain the stock levels of the ingredients required to prepare menu items, such as milk, sugar, coffee, flour, butter, rising agents, fruits, etc. The owner must balance having enough fresh produce like fruits and perishables like milk and butter without wastage. This ensures that the outlet can fulfill customer orders without running out of crucial ingredients.

Example #2

Say a firm that sells electronic gadgets manages stock levels for such products. They adjust their inventory based on market trends, new technological advancements, and the product life cycle. The business has a reordering level of 3000 refrigerators and a reorder quantity of 1500 refrigerators. The maximum monthly sales are 200 refrigerators, the maximum lead time is 30 days, and the minimum is 22 days. Also, the minimum sales per month is 120 refrigerators, and the minimum and maximum reorder times are 20 and 30 days, respectively. 

Solution:

Minimum Level = (Maximum usage × Maximum lead time) – (Average usage × Average lead time)

  • Average Sales = (200 + 120) / 2 = 160 refrigerators
  • Average Lead Time = (30 + 22) / 2 = 26 days
  • Minimum Level = (200 × 30) – (160 × 26) = 6000 – 4160 = 1840 refrigerators

Maximum level = Reordering level + Reordering Quantity – (Minimum Consumption x Minimum Reordering period)

  • Maximum Level = 3000 + 1500 – (120 x 20) = 2100 refrigerators

Reordering Level = Average Consumption x Maximum reorder period for emergency purchases.

  • Reordering Level = 160 x 30 = 4800 refrigerators

Average Stock Level = Minimum stock Level + 1/2 of Reordering Quantity

  • Average Stock Level = 1840 + 1/2 of 1500 = 2590 refrigerators

Danger Level = Average Consumption x Maximum reorder period for emergency purchases

  • Danger Level = 160 x 30 = 4800 refrigerators

Importance

The importance of stock level for businesses can be summarized as follows:

  • Customer Satisfaction: Adequate inventory levels ensure that a business is in a position to complete orders promptly, preventing customers from turning to competitors due to product unavailability.
  • Avoiding Stockouts: Insufficient stocks can lead to stockouts, resulting in lost sales, dissatisfied customers, and damage to the company’s reputation. Hence, maintaining optimal stock levels can prevent such loss.
  • Pricing Strategies: It serves as a critical input in the pricing of products and services since a high stock level can allow businesses to offer discounts, maximize sales and unload excess inventory.
  • Optimizing Cash Flow: Proper inventory management helps in optimizing cash flow. Excess stock blocks capital that could be utilized elsewhere, while a shortfall of goods and materials can lead to rushed orders and higher costs.
  • Managing Seasonal Demand: It helps businesses experiencing seasonal fluctuations in demand to adjust their inventory accordingly to maximize sales and revenue during peak seasons.
  • Supplier Relationships: Maintaining consistent inventory levels enables businesses to negotiate better terms with suppliers, fostering positive supplier relationships.
  • Production Planning: It is crucial for uninterrupted production in manufacturing businesses, as optimum levels ensure a steady supply of raw materials, facilitating efficient production planning.
  • Data Analysis: By monitoring inventory levels, businesses can gauge the sales trend or patterns for optimizing their inventory management strategies and making decisions based on real-time data.
  • Minimal Obsolescence: Maintaining optimal stock levels helps in reducing wastage, especially for perishable goods or items with limited shelf life. Timely sales of such items prevent losses due to expiration.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How to calculate the safety stock level?

The formula for calculating business safety stock levels is Amount of inventory used per day x Lead time in days.

2. How to monitor stock levels?

With advanced technology and an automated inventory management system, tracking these levels in real time has become way more convenient than ever before. Such software immediately facilitates the recording of all inventory purchases, transfers, sales, and return transactions.

3. How to maintain stock levels?

Some of the ways of optimum level maintenance are as follows:
1. Use a digital inventory management system;
2. Adopt the First-In-First-Out (FIFO) method;
3. Go for ABC analysis;
4. Conduct inventory audit;
5. Maintain sound relationships with suppliers;
6. Perform market research and trend analysis;
7. Ensure integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and
8. Have a contingency plan and emergency suppliers list.

4. Where would stock levels be recorded?

The stocks can be recorded either manually or electronically and include the material’s price, quantity and barcodes. The manual inventory records are maintained in tally sheets or stock sheets, while the electronic records are kept on portable hand-held electronic recording devices.

This article has been a guide to Stock Level and its definition. Here, we explain the topic in detail, including its formula, types, examples, and importance. You may also take a look at the useful articles below –

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