People who hold inventory supervisor positions are responsible for overseeing deliveries to and shipments from warehouses and distribution centers. They might also perform inspections to ensure optimal health of equipment and materials. When inventory supervisors learn of malfunctions, it often is their duty to report problems to inventory managers or to other high level professionals who can schedule repairs and replacements. While inventory supervisors usually do not act as buyers or purchasers who order equipment and materials from suppliers, they commonly do report to purchasing departments with information regarding stock. They might also report any problems they have with suppliers, such as late deliveries or errors in received shipments.
It is not necessary for an inventory supervisor to have a college degree, though most people in this field do have high school diplomas and may also have some vocational training. Formal preparation in fields such as logistics and management can be valuable for aspiring inventory supervisors. They also tend to have at least a few years of experience working entry level positions in inventory, sometimes in specific industries or even for specific companies where they work toward promotion.
An inventory supervisor normally is responsible for work performed only during his or her shift. Inventory managers and specialists, on the other hand, are responsible for the design and overall functionality of inventory systems. Individuals with inventory supervisor duties should be proficient at using relevant inventory systems. They also are responsible for upholding standards and conveying messages from managers about practices and priorities to their inventory employees.
When new deliveries are received, inventory supervisors are responsible for checking the items in deliveries against itemized bills of materials. For instance, if a shipment is supposed to include 100 boxes, an inventory supervisor might have to count the boxes present to ensure that 100 boxes are actually in a shipment. When overseeing shipments from their distribution centers or warehouses, supervisors might use computerized databases to ensure that inventory numbers are accurate and that employees are correctly updating information.
It is uncommon for an inventory supervisor to participate in the recruitment process. Supervisors may, however, talk to managers about skills and character traits that are beneficial to inventory staff. Many operations tend to have more than one inventory supervisor, so supervisors might meet and come to agreements on what is needed. They might also discuss which employees are problematic and which might be qualified for promotion. Training is another common duty of many inventory supervisors.