As a business owner, you know how essential keeping track of your inventory is to the success of your business. Efficient inventory management makes sure that you have the right products in stock at the right time. However, if you use Excel spreadsheets to help you manage your inventory, the task of keeping track of your stock can take time and effort. If that sounds familiar, it might be time to upgrade to inventory management software. An application like inventory management can help streamline your current process and help grow your business. Keep on reading to learn more.
Table of Contents
- Limitations of using Excel for inventory management
- Why inventory management software is the solution
- Features to look for in inventory management software
- Types of inventory management software available
- Inventory management software on-premise vs. cloud
- How to choose the right inventory management software for your business
- Cost considerations for inventory management software
- Integrating inventory management software with other systems & platforms
- Future trends in inventory management software
- Common inventory software FAQs
- Conclusion: Making the switch to inventory management
Limitations of Using Excel for Inventory Management
Excel is a versatile tool when dealing with data management. However, when it comes to inventory management, using an Excel spreadsheet does have its limitations. This is because Excel requires manual data entry, which can be prone to human error when coupled with the monotonous task of entering data. No one ever wants to make an error, but we are, after all, human, and errors sometimes happen.
Another limitation that Excel also has when it comes to inventory management is that it lacks the ability to handle real-time inventory tracking. This makes it challenging to keep track of inventory levels accurately. Also, if you sell your products on multiple platforms, keeping track of available stock becomes even more difficult.
A few other ways that business owners might find Excel lacking for their inventory management is its inability to generate detailed reports and the fact that Excel does not integrate with other business systems, making it difficult to get a complete overview of business operations.
Why Inventory Management Software Is the Solution
If Excel spreadsheets didn’t have limitations when it came to inventory management, there would be no need for inventory software. But, an Excel spreadsheet is lacking when it comes to inventory; therefore, software has been created to help fill the gaps and empower business owners.
Inventory management software was created and designed to address the limitations of Excel and other manual inventory tracking methods. As technology has shown us over the years, there is usually a better way of doing things, and inventory software is proof of that.
Save Time & Money
With inventory software, you can automate your inventory management process (no more manual entries!) and streamline your operations, saving you time and money. The phrase “save you time and money” is a blanket term that a lot of technology, or software, companies like to say when talking about their product. So, let's dive into that a bit more and “show you the money” you can save …
When it comes to inventory management, inventory software saves money because it eliminates all the errors that happen when a task is done manually. So, every little oopsie or mistyped number is no longer a problem because the software updates that information automatically.
Inventory management also saves precious time. Think of all the occurrences when an Excel spreadsheet has to be updated and the process that goes with it. First, the updated inventory numbers must be found. Then, the spreadsheet needs to be opened to add the new amounts. Even with practice, doing this task over months and years would still take seconds, if not minutes. Multiply those minutes by how often the Excel spreadsheet is updated a week. Now multiply the amount by the weeks in a month. Now by the months in a year.
Can you imagine how an inventory management software can help you? Goodbye manual entries. Hello automation!
Easily Keep Track of Inventory Levels
Inventory management software can track your inventory levels in real-time. When you use inventory software, your inventory data automatically updates as you make sales or receive new stock. This makes monitoring your inventory and reordering products when necessary a breeze compared to doing this with Excel. Also, good inventory management software is backed with powerful features like low stock alerts and vendor management to make the process even more streamlined - and make sure you never run out of stock ever again.
Generate Detailed Reports
Gain access to insights that have only been a dream with Excel. Use the detailed reports from your inventory management software to get insight into your sales trends, inventory turnover, and more. Use this invaluable knowledge to make better-informed business decisions to help grow your company.
Features to Look for in Inventory Management Software
The most important features to look for are the ones that are most important to you and your company. With that said, there are several essential features that you should look for when you are considering the many different kinds of inventory software out there.
Essential Feature #1: Real-Time Inventory Tracking
This is the most important feature an inventory management software must have. Real-time inventory tracking allows you to monitor your inventory levels across all your platforms, channels, and locations. It also makes it possible to receive alerts when stock is low.
If software does not offer this capability, you will be right where you are with making updates manually.
Essential Feature #2: User-Friendly
Let’s be honest, if software is difficult for you and your team to use, the odds are that you will not use it. Therefore, when you choose inventory software for you and your team, make sure the interface makes your life easier (not harder) to manage your inventory. Additionally, the software should also be scalable, allowing you to add new products and inventory locations as your business grows. In other words, it is important to buy software that can support both your business now and your business in the future.
Essential Feature #3: Excellent Support
Nothing is more frustrating than needing help or support and being unable to find a way to get your question or grievance answered. The worst is when you are trying to talk to an automated bot in a company’s chat and get no help or a preloaded response. It can almost bring you to the brink of insanity or have you pulling out your hair. That’s why excellent support is number three on our list of the most important features you should consider when researching new software.
Essential Feature #4: Report Generation
Another important feature an inventory management software should have is its ability to generate reports to help you make informed decisions. The key reports you should make sure the inventory management software supports are sales reports, inventory turnover reports, current cost of inventory by category reports, and stock in/out reports.
Types of Inventory Management Software Available
Several types of inventory management software are available. Each has been created with unique features and benefits. From an inventory management platform created for countertops to an application that has expanded the functionality of inventory software to include everything needed to run a business, your perfect solution is out there.
Also, whether your business is small, medium, or large, you can always find inventory management software that can help you solve your current challenges.
Inventory Management Software On-Premise vs. Cloud
When you purchase inventory management software, there are two types of software that you can choose from.
On-Premise Inventory Management Software
For those businesses that want their software to be hosted on their own servers and not the cloud, on-premise inventory management software is the best solution to ensure you keep the software on-site. Therefore, if you want local control, make sure that the inventory management software you are researching specifies that it is “on-premise” and not “cloud-based.”
Cloud-Based Inventory Management Software
Cloud-based inventory management software is becoming increasingly popular because it allows you to access your inventory data anywhere and at any time. This can be useful if you have multiple inventory locations or need access to your inventory data while on the go. Other benefits of a cloud-based solution versus an on-premise one is that it provides more flexibility and reliability, can increase performance and efficiency with the use of integrations, and can help lower IT costs because it frees up your servers.
How to Choose the Right Inventory Management Software for Your Business
When choosing inventory management software, it’s essential to consider your business’ specific needs and requirements. Considering your business size and the number of products you sell can help guide you to the right system for you. When choosing any kind of software (on-premise or cloud) always pick the best option that can handle your inventory needs.
The second item to consider when choosing the right inventory management software for your business is the software's features and functionality. Make sure that the software can support you in all the ways you need to be supported (inventory tracking, multi-warehouse capability, kitting, and beyond.) Also, again, choose an application that can support you as you grow.
The final item you should consider is the software's cost, including any setup or implementation costs. Here, implementation and setup costs are important because they are not always discussed when you first engage a company to learn about their software. Therefore, when evaluating the different inventory management software on the market, ask about the onboarding and setup fees as early as you can. That way, you will not be surprised by these costs once you have narrowed your search.
Cost Considerations for Inventory Management Software
Inventory management software can support every size of a business, but the cost of the software can also be equally dynamic. The cost of inventory management software can vary widely based on the software’s features and functionality and can range from tens of dollars to thousands.
The way software providers charge for the application is another element worth considering when evaluating the different options. For example, mostly every cloud-based inventory management system on the market charges by the month.
When considering the cost of inventory management software, it is also essential to consider the total price when choosing software for your business. This can include setup or implementation costs, ongoing maintenance costs, and training or support fees.
Integrating Inventory Management Software with Other Systems & Platforms
Integrating inventory management software with other systems, channels, and platforms is crucial to getting one source of truth for your business operations. Inventory management software is unique because it empowers your processes by integrating with accounting software like QuickBooks Online, e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Shopify, and other business systems.
The key when looking into inventory management software is to choose software that offers integration capabilities for all the platforms you use.
Future Trends in Inventory Management Software
The good news is that inventory management software is constantly evolving, with new features and functions being added all the time. Some of the future trends involve helping companies become more omnichannel by providing a way to manage all inventory across every channel that products are sold, including online marketplaces, brick-and-mortar shops, and more.
Common Inventory Software FAQs
When looking into inventory management software, some common questions arise when people consider moving away from Excel to software. Here’s a look at some of those questions - and some answers.
How much does inventory software cost?
On average, inventory management software costs over $100, though lower-cost solutions exist. The most expensive software can be a couple of thousand dollars.
What is the best way to keep track of inventory?
Small businesses can use a stock book, log book, or Excel spreadsheet to keep track of inventory. This is an excellent way to track inventory if the company is small and does not sell many items.
For companies that are larger or planning for growth, the best way to keep track of inventory is to use an easy-to-use but powerful inventory management system.
How do I know if inventory management is right for my business?
If the system you have in place right now is working, there is no need to change it. You have found a system that works; that is all that is important. For now, implementing inventory management software would be of interest if you want to start planning for the future and growth. (The more you sell, the more difficult it is to keep inventory up-to-date in Excel.)
If you are researching to plan for the future and looking into tools and applications you know you will need down the line, that’s great too! If you have questions about whether an inventory management system is right for you, contact our excellent support team here.
If you have concluded that there “must be a better way than tracking inventory on Excel,” welcome! Identifying a bottleneck can sometimes be the most challenging part, and we are excited for you to see how inventory software will power your business and empower your team.
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Conclusion: Making the Switch to Inventory Management Software
Inventory management is a crucial aspect of running a successful business, and inventory management software can streamline your operations and help grow your business. When choosing the perfect inventory management software for you, consider your business’ specific needs and requirements, and look for software that offers real-time inventory tracking, a user-friendly interface, excellent support, and report generation.
Inventory management software can also provide several benefits to your business, including time and cost savings, optimized inventory levels, and insights into your business operations.
It's time to make the switch to inventory management software and take your business to the next level!
Ready to upgrade your inventory management system? Book a meeting today to get your questions answered, learn more about our inventory management software and how it can benefit your business.