ABC Analysis as a Method of Inventory Control

Jun 18, 2023Inventory Management


Efficient inventory management is a crucial aspect of a successful business. Businesses use ABC analysis to optimise their inventory control processes. ABC analysis is a technique that categorises inventory items based on their value and usage, allowing companies to prioritise their efforts and resources. In this blog, we will explore the fundamentals of ABC analysis and how it can benefit businesses in managing their inventory.

Understanding ABC Analysis

ABC analysis is based on the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, which states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. When applied to inventory control, this principle suggests that a significant portion of a company’s revenue or value is derived from a small fraction of its inventory items. ABC analysis aims to identify and focus on these high-value items while ensuring adequate management of other items.

The process involves categorising inventory items into three groups: A, B, and C, based on their relative importance. Category A consists of the most valuable commodities, typically representing a smaller percentage of the total items but a significant portion of the revenue or value. Category B includes moderately essential items, while Category C encompasses the least valuable or low-priority things.

Performing ABC Analysis

To perform ABC analysis, businesses must gather data on item sales, value, and usage frequency. The process involves several steps:

  1. Data Collection: Gather information on each inventory item, including its unit cost, annual usage quantity, and annual sales value. This data can be obtained from sales records, purchase invoices, or inventory management software.
  2. Calculation of Annual Usage Value: Calculate the annual usage value for each item by multiplying its unit cost by the annual usage quantity. For example, if an item costs $10 per unit and the annual usage is 500 units, the annual usage value would be $10 * 500 = $5,000.
  3. Ranking the Items: Once each item’s annual usage value is determined, rank them in descending order based on their values. The top-ranked items will have the highest annual usage values, while the lowest-ranked items will have the lowest values.
  4. Categorization: Divide the items into three categories: A, B, and C, based on their rankings. The specific criteria for categorisation may vary depending on the business’s requirements, but a common approach is to assign the top 20% of items to Category A, the next 30% to Category B, and the remaining 50% to Category C. Adjustments can be made to these percentages based on the business’s unique circumstances.

Example: Let’s consider an example to illustrate the process. A company sells various electronic products and has collected data on its annual sales and unit costs. After calculating the annual usage value for each item, the items are ranked as follows:

Item A: Annual Usage Value – $20,000
Item B: Annual Usage Value – $12,000
Item C: Annual Usage Value – $8,000
Item D: Annual Usage Value – $5,000
Item E: Annual Usage Value – $2,000

Based on the rankings, Item A would be classified as a Category A item, Item B and Item C as Category B items, and Item D and Item E as Category C items.

Benefits of ABC Analysis

Implementing ABC analysis offers several benefits for businesses in managing their inventory effectively. Companies can allocate their resources and attention more efficiently by focusing on Category A items, which often contribute the most to revenue. This prioritisation ensures that these critical items are always available, reducing the risk of stockouts and lost sales opportunities.

Moreover, ABC analysis allows businesses to identify low-value or low-demand items in Category C. By managing these items differently, such as implementing just-in-time ordering or reducing stock levels, companies can optimise inventory control and reduce carrying costs. This method prevents tying up valuable resources in less significant inventory items.

Additionally, ABC analysis helps in identifying potential inventory obsolescence. By closely monitoring high-value items, businesses can proactively plan for any changes in demand or market trends, minimising the risk of holding obsolete inventory.


Efficient inventory control is vital for the success and profitability of any business. ABC analysis provides a valuable method for categorising inventory items based on their value and usage, allowing companies to prioritise their efforts and resources effectively. Businesses can streamline their inventory control processes and optimise their overall operations by focusing on high-value items, managing low-demand items strategically, and proactively addressing potential obsolescence. Implementing ABC analysis as part of an inventory management strategy empowers businesses to make informed decisions, reduce costs, and ensure customer satisfaction through improved availability of critical items.