Understanding What is Inventory Turnover Ratio and Improving Business Efficiency

Written by
Aaron Oh
Last Modified on
May 22, 2024

Imagine you're running an online store full of toys. The inventory turnover ratio is like how fast those toys disappear and get replaced with new ones.

When toys are selling like crazy, it's like kids can't get enough of them. Every time someone buys a toy, another magically appears on the shelf. That's a high turnover ratio—it means you're doing great! Your toys are super popular, and you're making lots of money.

But if your toys are not selling, it's like they're stuck in a waiting game. Nobody's buying, and the toys are just hanging around. That's a low turnover ratio. It's like having a party, but nobody shows up! It could be better for business.

It might seem straightforward. If something's almost sold out, you restock it, and if it's not selling, you stop offering it.

Why bother with a ratio to analyse it further?

How can an accurate inventory analysis be more helpful?

As a business owner, accurate inventory management is crucial for the success of your product-based business. Tracking stock regularly not only helps you avoid stock errors but also brings many benefits that can significantly improve the efficiency and profitability of your operations.

Advantages of Accurate Inventory Management

As a business owner, accurate inventory management is crucial for the success of your product-based business. Tracking stock regularly not only helps you avoid stock errors but also brings many benefits that can significantly improve the efficiency and profitability of your operations.

Firstly, let's explore these advantages:

  • Enhanced Inventory Accuracy: Strong inventory management ensures you always know what items are in stock. This knowledge empowers you to order precisely the inventory needed to meet customer demand, reducing the risk of stockouts or overstocking.
  • Prevention of Stockouts and Overstocking: Proactive planning and meticulous management help you replenish inventory and minimise stockouts while avoiding excess inventory. This ensures optimal inventory levels, reducing the number of days items are out of stock and preventing unnecessary inventory accumulation.
  • Cost-Efficiency Measures: Efficient inventory management leads to cost savings across various fronts. Holding excess inventory incurs costs such as storage, handling, transportation fees, and expenses related to insurance and employee salaries. Additionally, it helps mitigate risks such as theft, loss, or obsolescence, minimising financial losses.
  • Improved Customer Satisfaction: Effective inventory management contributes to a better customer experience. Accurate and timely order fulfilment enhances satisfaction, fosters loyalty, and builds long-term relationships with your clientele.
  • Boosted Operational Efficiency: Implementing effective inventory management solutions streamlines processes, saving time and resources. This boosts overall productivity and efficiency within your organisation, allowing you to focus on core activities.
  • Insightful Data Analysis: Inventory tracking provides valuable insights into sales trends, product performance, and turnover. This data enables you to make informed decisions, spot emerging trends, and effectively manage factors such as recalls or expiry dates.
  • Optimised Supplier Relationships: You can negotiate better prices and payment terms with vendors by leveraging inventory management data. Demonstrating a clear understanding of product demand allows you to strengthen your negotiating position and secure advantageous agreements.
  • Mitigation of Overselling Risks: By effectively tracking inventory levels and backorders, you can avoid overselling products. This ensures that orders can be fulfilled promptly and accurately, maintaining customer satisfaction.
  • Maximised Profitability: A deeper understanding of inventory availability and demand leads to higher turnover rates and greater profits. Aligning inventory levels with customer demand optimises profitability by minimising carrying costs.
  • Organisational Warehouse Optimisation: Efficient warehouse organisation enhances operational efficiency and order fulfillment processes. Organising items based on demand and other relevant factors can reduce labour costs and expedite order processing.

However, understanding the inventory turnover ratio, Inventory turnover rate and its numerous benefits is essential for an accurate and good inventory turnover analysis.

So, What Is the Inventory Turnover Ratio?

The inventory turnover ratio is a financial tool that shows how well a company handles its inventory. It compares the cost of goods sold (COGS) to the average inventory over a certain time period.

Here, inventory turnover rate refers to the pace at which inventory stock is sold or utilised and subsequently replenished.

The formula for calculating the inventory turnover ratio is:

Inventory Turnover Ratio = Cost of Goods Sold/Average Inventory

Importance of Inventory Turnover Ratio

For a business owner, the inventory turnover serves several crucial purposes and holds significant importance:

Optimised Inventory Management: As a business owner, the inventory turnover ratio serves as your compass in navigating the complexities of inventory management. It enables you to balance maintaining adequate stock levels to meet customer demand and minimising excess inventory holding costs. This indicates that your sales forecast is accurate and effective.

Financial Performance Indicator: The inventory turnover ratio is a critical financial metric. A high inventory turnover ratio indicates efficient resource use, leading to better cash flow and profitability. On the other hand, a low ratio could indicate liquidity issues or inefficient capital allocation.

inventory turnover ratio - Revenue

Operational Efficiency Benchmark: The inventory turnover ratio is not just a number; it reflects your operational efficiency. A high ratio suggests that your processes, sales strategies, and inventory replenishment practices are effective. A low ratio, however, could indicate inefficiencies in procurement, production, or distribution that need to be addressed.

Informed Decision Making: You can make data-driven decisions regarding pricing strategies, product assortment, and inventory optimisation with the help of inventory turnover ratio. It empowers you to identify slow-moving items, adjust pricing or promotional strategies, and streamline inventory turnover for enhanced profitability.

Competitive Analysis Tool: Comparing your inventory turnover ratio with industry benchmarks or competitors' performance metrics provides valuable context for evaluating your business's efficiency and competitiveness. It enables you to identify areas for improvement, capitalise on strengths, and strategically position your business within the market landscape.

How to Calculate the Inventory Turnover Ratio?

Calculating the inventory turnover ratio for a business involves simple steps and requires two key components: the cost of goods sold (COGS) and the average value of inventory.

Here's a breakdown of the components and the formula:


Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): These are the direct expenses related to producing goods sold by the company in a given period. They cover costs like raw materials, labor, and manufacturing overhead. You can find COGS on the company's income statement.

Average Inventory: It refers to the usual worth of inventory maintained by the company throughout a defined duration. Calculate it by summing the beginning inventory value with the ending inventory value and then dividing by two. Inventory values are typically found on the company's balance sheet.

 Inventory Turnover Formula:

The Inventory Turnover Ratio formula is:

Inventory Turnover Ratio = Cost of Goods Sold/ Average Inventory

Inventory Turnover Ratio Example: NetLife Company, a retail business in Singapore, has a COGS of S$500,000 for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2023. At the beginning of the year, their inventory was valued at S$100,000, and at the end of the year, it was valued at S$150,000.

Using the formula:

Average Inventory = (S$100,000+S$150,000)/2 = S$125,000

Inventory Turnover Ratio = S$500,000/S$125,000 = 4

This means NetLife Company's inventory turned over four times during the fiscal year. In other words, on average, they sold and replaced their entire inventory four times over the year.

What Insights Can Inventory Turnover Provide?

The inventory turnover ratio provides valuable insights into a company's operational efficiency, financial health, and inventory management practices. Here's what it can tell you:

Low Inventory Turnover Ratio:

Significance: A low inventory turnover ratio suggests your products are not moving off the shelves as quickly as anticipated. This may indicate overstocking, poor demand forecasting, or ineffective sales strategies.

Means: Having inventory just sitting there can tie up your money and lead to higher costs. Plus, if things aren't selling, you could be missing out on potential sales and profits.

High Inventory Turnover Ratio:

Significance: A high inventory turnover ratio signifies robust sales and efficient inventory management practices. It indicates that your products are in high demand and selling rapidly.

Means: When your inventory turnover calculation is high, you're making money and keeping things moving smoothly. You're keeping inventory from piling up and meeting customer demand like a pro.

inventory turnover ratio - wonderful

Ideal Inventory Turnover Ratio:

Significance: The ideal turnover ratio varies based on industry standards, business objectives, and market conditions. It should strike a balance between meeting customer demand and avoiding stockouts.

Means: Aiming for a turnover ratio ensures efficient capital utilisation, minimises excess inventory, and supports sustainable business growth while meeting customer needs effectively.

Understanding Other Key Metrics for Business Optimisation

Here's an overview of other related inventory ratios commonly used in business:

Inventory to Sales Ratio Days Sales of Inventory (DSI) Inventory Turnover Days Gross Margin Return on Inventory Investment (GMROI)
Measures It measures the relationship between inventory levels and sales revenue. It indicates how many times a company's average inventory can cover its sales over a specific period. It measures the average number of days it takes for a company to sell its entire inventory. It indicates the efficiency of inventory management and turnover. It measures how many days it takes for a company to sell its entire inventory. It provides a more straightforward interpretation of how inventory turnover measures, in terms of time. It evaluates the effectiveness of inventory management by assessing the relationship between gross margin and inventory investment. It measures how efficiently inventory is being converted into gross profit.
Formula Inventory to Sales Ratio Formula

Inventory to Sales Ratio = Average Inventory / Sales Revenue
DSI Formula

DSI = (Average Inventory / Cost of Goods Sold) * Number of Days in Period
Inventory Turnover Days Formula

Inventory Turnover in Days = 365 days / Inventory Turnover Ratio
GMROI Formula

GMROI = Gross Margin / Average Inventory Cost
Indication - High: Indicates potential overstocking, tying up capital unnecessarily 

- Low: Suggests risk of stockouts, may lead to missed sales opportunities
- Low: Signifies efficient inventory turnover, good for cash flow and liquidity

- High: Indicates slow-moving inventory, tying up capital and potentially increasing holding costs 
- Low: Reflects efficient inventory management products are selling quickly

- High: Implies slower sales turnover, may lead to increased holding cost and reduced liquidity
- High: Indicates effective use of inventory to generate profit, maximizing returns

- Helps identify which products contribute most to profitability and areas for improvement

Limitations Inventory Turnover Ratio

When considering the limitations of the Inventory Turnover Ratio, it's essential to recognise its simplified perspective. This ratio doesn't explore the nuances of product demand fluctuations, seasonal variations, or industry-specific intricacies. As a result, it may offer a partial picture of your inventory management efficiency.

Furthermore, comparing turnover ratios across different industries might not provide meaningful insights. Each industry operates with its own set of business models and practices, making direct comparisons challenging and potentially misleading.

Inflation can also skew the interpretation of the ratio. Rising prices inflate inventory value without necessarily indicating improved inventory management efficiency. This inflation effect can distort one's understanding of how effectively one turns over inventory.

Another aspect overlooked by the ratio is the quality and mix of inventory sold. It needs to consider whether the products sold are high-quality, high-margin items or low-margin commodities. This lack of insight can impact your overall assessment of business performance.

Additionally, the timing of calculations presents a challenge. The ratio is typically calculated using an average of inventory balances and annual sales figures, which may not capture real-time changes in inventory levels or sales patterns. This timing issue can lead to misinterpretations of your inventory management effectiveness.

To truly grasp the implications of your inventory turnover ratios, it's essential to interpret the ratio in context. This involves not just analysing it in isolation, but also considering it alongside other relevant metrics. This comprehensive assessment of your inventory management practices and their impact on overall business performance is key to making informed decisions.

inventory turnover ratio - noting down

Find out How Aspire Redefines Expense Management for Your Business

With Aspire, creating, sending, and managing invoices is effortless. It ensures seamless synchronisation and automatic reconciliation for faster payments and reduced administrative overhead. Take control of your company's spending with real-time budget tracking and expenditure monitoring, empowering you to set spending limits, delegate tasks, and scale your business efficiently. 

Streamline bulk payments and payroll processing with automated features, saving time and resources while focusing on business growth. Simplify payable processes by paying invoices with just an email forward, optimising cash flow and ensuring timely vendor payments. Moreover, you can create custom expense policies directly on Aspire to enforce compliance and control over employee spending, accelerating operational workflows and gaining greater financial oversight. 

With Aspire's integrated expense management solution, enjoy instant corporate cards, streamlined claims processing, and robust spend controls, optimising processes, enhancing financial efficiency, and ensuring in-policy spending. 

Open a business account with Aspire today to boost your company's expense management capabilities!

For more episodes of CFO Talks, check us out on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or add our RSS feed to your favorite podcast player!

Frequently Asked Questions

No items found.
About the author
Aaron Oh
is a seasoned content writer specialising in finance, insurance and tech industries. With a writing history at S&P Global, EdgeProp, Indeed, Prudential, and others, Aaron leverages finance knowledge and business insights to help businesses improve productivity and performance.
Supercharge your finance operations with Aspire
Find out how Aspire can help you speed up your end-to-end finance processes from payments to expense management.
Talk to Sales