Technology continues to evolve and along with it are the many software developed and made available with the purpose of streamlining and automating every process and the tasks involved. Inventory management, for instance, is a simple and straightforward process but when done manually, it can consume much of an employee’s time, not to mention the manual recordings of warehouse inventories is an error-prone process. Here is where inventory management software becomes necessary.
Inventory management software is one of the most commonly used applications since the emergence of computer information systems. Many businesses who wanted to grow in the retail industry invested in this type of software because of the many promising benefits it offers. However, as the market is flooded with a lot of inventory management software providers, being able to distinguish which one is most appropriate for your business needs and processes is important to make sure you get the best value of your investment.
More often than not, like other retail businesses who have adopted the use of inventory management software, you will be left with too many options that will vary depending on features, functionalities, and price. To clear your path towards the best inventory management software, let me remind you of the ins and outs of your business that you should take into account through these guide questions:
What does my business need?
You can simply key in the phrase “Inventory Management Software” and let Google lead you to potentially the best inventory management software in today’s market but then again, that’s just according to Google. You may have easily spotted a software that is sold within your budget, but the question is can it really get the job done?
In order for you to assess that software is what your business truly needs, first and foremost you must have at least a decent knowledge about your stockroom and warehouse systems. You have to know how your current manual system is doing. Only then you will be able to identify the issues that need help or improvement.
Do you often experience stock-outs or overstock? Can you still track your inventory records efficiently? Are the records you have been keeping well maintained and restricted against unauthorized personnel? Can you rely on your records? Are you using barcode scanners? As an owner, no one has better intentions for your business than yourself. Thus, it pays to be hands-on from time to time to know which areas need systematic aid. Only when you have paid attention to these aspects will you be able to select the best inventory management software for your business.
Depending on your business requirements, there is more specialized inventory management software you can go for, e.g., manufacturing inventory management software, warehouse inventory management software, and retail inventory management software.
Manufacturing Solutions. A basic manufacturing inventory management software features material tracking, automatic reordering, inventory levels for parts and finish products, and easy integrations with ERP or maintenance software. It focuses on easing the monitoring processes. With such a vast scope, a manufacturing business can hardly operate nowadays without any inventory management software in place.
Warehousing Solutions. Warehouse management is one of the complex processes a retail or manufacturing business has to face but thanks to warehouse management systems, everything is made easier. A warehouse inventory app usually features shelf or bin tracking systems, advanced barcode and scanning, order picking support, and multiple locations support.
Retailing Solutions. An inventory management software specially made for retail businesses is like an answered prayer for every retail staff and business owner. Most retail systems feature order picking support, inventory forecasting, automatic reorder, and barcoding support.
Can I address these needs manually? Or is now the best time to get an inventory management software for my business?
The truth is no business has not benefited from using an inventory management software. And whether you like it or not, you have to accept it: you too need an inventory management software to achieve a more efficient inventory process. They may be pricey, but you will be surprised by the potential return of investment.
A basic inventory management software offers a streamlined process of managing inventories saving you money and time in the long run. It basically automates the used-to-be tedious and error-prone inventory processes and provides reports that can significantly assist in your future decision making. Its basic functions and features include centralized data storage for stocks and inventories, products categorization, order management, automated ordering, barcode scanning, regular reports, and regularly maintained and updated stocks information. Depending on the advancement of the system, it can also feature sales analysis, forecasting, sales budgeting, and advanced accounting.
Do I have the budget for it?
Inventory management software has slowly become a necessity for every retail or manufacturing business. Hence, setting aside the budget for it should be one of your top priorities if you want to reap from its amazing benefits. Being defiant to its importance may only mean you are going to suffer more from inventory mismanagement.
Choosing the Best Inventory Management Software for Your Business
Here are a few more considerations to bear in mind before you decide to check out that software you’ve been eying on:
Innovate within your means. You may have found the one that can address your needs, but if it requires you a huge sum of money, you may want to think it over. The rule of thumb is to innovate within the budget you have set aside and expanded your purchased system from there.
Choose a software package that includes technical support and warranty. This saves you the hassle of figuring out how to install, use, or integrate your inventory management software to your business’s other systems.
It is learning curve matters. Every software has a learning curve, but it is safest to go for one that offers the best usability and user-friendliness. If the software is hard to use, the promised efficiency and speedy processes become questionable.
System Reliability is necessary. As we are talking about process automation, your inventory management system has to be able to perform calculations with 100% accuracy and more importantly, the provider should be reliable enough when bugs and other issues need urgent fixing.