Are you finding it a challenge managing your business inventory? Or perhaps, you’ve been experiencing more “out of stock” experiences or there’s a ton of excess inventory on your hand? You’ll find that as your business continues to expand that traditional methods of inventory management will no longer suit your needs.
For years, small retailers and distributors have relied on spreadsheets to manage their products. Apparently, inventory software can make these processes much easier.
Inventory management software can streamline the whole inventory process. It will also help save time and money provided you have chosen the software most appropriate for your needs. However, selecting the right inventory management infrastructure is not an easy task. After all, there are numerous options of software providers available. How do you know which one is right for you and your business?
What To Look For in Inventory Software
When shopping for the right inventory management software here are some things you should look for:
No doubt, the cost is a major determining factor in what inventory infrastructure that you choose to invest in. Cloud-based software solutions have made it possible for even small businesses to implement an inventory management application. You’ll need to assess the budget that has been allocated to investing in an inventory software.
Take a look at your current business model and determine what features you need from the application. Most of these applications are designed with bells and whistles. However, you can choose to pay only for the features you need.
Specifically Designed for Your Industry
Inventory management software is jam-packed with all kinds of features. Yet, it doesn’t matter how sophisticated an inventory software is it won’t matter if it was designed for your company’s industry. Therefore, to reap the full benefits of software it’s best to select one that addresses your business needs. Inventory management solutions that have been created for the manufacturing industry will cater to raw materials and tools. While inventory software for the food industry addresses expiration dates. When you begin searching for the right software solution start by narrowing it down to the industry your businesses is in.
Ease of Use
The usability of an inventory management application also plays a major role. Is your staff technically savvy? If it’s going to take hours on end to reach everyone how to use the software then it may not be for your company. If the inventory management software has a steep learning curve it’s likely going to cost you a lot of time, money and energy.
Select an inventory system that is intuitive. You can expect to pay a slightly higher price for a well-designed program that’s easier to use but it will be worth the cost. You can assess the complexity of an application by analyzing the screenshots available on the developer’s website and even watching the accompanying video that provides a brief overview of the software. You will be able to gauge how complicated the application is.
Compatibility With Existing Applications
More than likely you are using other applications to run your business. Wouldn’t it be great if they could all communicate with each other? Opt for an inventory management software that you can integrate with your other applications which will make your business much more efficient. Common integration options include; e-commerce, shipping, and accounting.
Keep in mind that running an inventory management software will take up a lot of virtual resources. Therefore, you will need a system that can run on the hardware that is already in place.
Depending on your industry, perpetual inventory updates is necessary. This means that inventory counts are live which is beneficial because you’ll be able to find out exactly how much stock you have at the given moment. In periodic updates, inventory counts are only conducted daily, weekly or monthly. Small distributors can especially benefit from perpetual stock updating. It eliminates the possibility of stockouts being ordered which ultimately increases customer satisfaction because it reduces order issues. An additional benefit of perpetual updating is that business managers will be able to see the exact levels of raw materials which is essential so that you’ll know when the next order must be made. In manufacturing industries, it can take to place orders and receive such raw materials. However, being aware of the exact amount of raw materials available allows you to continue to meet customer demand.
Lot tracking is a great feature in an inventory software because it allows distributors to identify the specific stock lot or set of items. Lot tracking is especially beneficial for businesses who sell FDA regulated products because if an item gets recalled the product can be immediately pulled from inventory. Managers will also be to track what items have already been shipped from inventory which can be instrumental to your customer service team.
Designed to Grow with Your Business
Most businesses don’t have unlimited funds to keep spending on implementing new inventory software as the business expands. Therefore, investing in a system that can grow with your business as customer demand increases is a wise decision. Consider investing in inventory software that can be upgraded or additional features can be purchased in the future. While selecting an application that is affordable is the main goal, as a business manager or owner you will have to look ahead to your business future needs.
Finally, having access to quality support should be a determining factor. All software is accompanied with its unique challenges. Before you make a purchase be sure that the software provider offers 24/7 support.
Of course, finding the right inventory software will take some time. Understand exactly what look for in an inventory management software can help you find the right one for your business. Many software providers allow businesses to take the software on a test run before they commit to buying it. Make use of these trial runs to see if the application complements the current infrastructure. Avoid making hasty decisions that can end up being costly mistakes down the road.