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Perpetual Inventory System
When you use a perpetual inventory system, it continually updates inventory records and accounts for additions and subtractions when inventory items are received, sold from stock, moved from one location to another, picked from inventory, and scrapped. Some organizations prefer perpetual inventory systems because they deliver up-to-date inventory information and better handle minimal physical inventory counts. Perpetual inventory systems also are preferred for tracking inventory because they deliver accurate results on a continual basis when managed properly. This type of inventory control system works best when used in conjunction with warehouse inventorya database of inventory quantities and bin locations updated in real time by warehouse workers using barcode scanners.

There are some challenges associated with perpetual inventory systems. First, these systems cannot be maintained manually and require specialized equipment and software that results in a higher cost of implementation, especially for businesses with multiple locations or warehouses. Periodic maintenance and upgrades are necessary for periodic inventory systems, which also can become costly. Another challenge of using a perpetual inventory system is that recorded inventory may not reflect actual inventory as time goes by because they do not use regular physical inventory counts. The result is that errors, stolen items, and improperly scanned items impact the recorded inventory records and cause them not to match actual inventory counts.

Periodic Inventory System
Periodic inventory systems do not track inventory on a daily basis; rather, they allow organizations to know the beginning and ending inventory levels during a certain period of time. These types of inventory control systems track inventory using physical inventory counts. When physical inventory is complete, the balance in the purchases account shifts into the inventory account and is adjusted to match the cost of the ending inventory. Organizations may choose whether to calculate the cost of ending inventory using LIFO or FIFO inventory accounting methods or another method; keep in mind that beginning inventory is the previous period’s ending inventory.

There are a few disadvantages of using a periodic inventory system. First, when physical inventory counts are being completed, normal business activities nearly become suspended. As a result, workers may hurry through their physical counts because of time constraints. Errors and fraud may be more prevalent when you implement a periodic inventory system because there is no continuous control over inventory. It also becomes more difficult to identify where discrepancies in inventory counts occur when using a periodic inventory control system because so much time passes between counts. The amount of labor that is required for periodic inventory control systems make them better suited to smaller businesses.