You’ve either noticed that your operations are starting to suffer due to lack of organization or data accountability or you just need to find a better solution for managing your inventory. Choosing a software that fits best with your business needs and making the switch isn’t something to be taken lightly. So how do you find and choose the best software? How can you even be sure if something is the best? It’s important to remember that software is subjective and what may work for one business may not work for someone else.
Analyze and identify your needs.
Before you even start looking at inventory management software, the first thing you need to do is look at your workflow and identify your current challenges. What do your day to day operations look like? Do they resemble how you imagined them or do you need a complete overhaul?
How’s your productivity now? Are your employees taking a long time tracking down inventory, either physically in the warehouse or by combing through spreadsheets? As time is being spent attempting to execute a task, productivity is being lost. Your employees aren’t able to get their job done!
What are you spending on your current inventory management solution? What are you losing due to deficiencies in it? If you’re already using an inventory management system that is costing you more money than it is saving you, it’s probably time to reassess your situation. If you don’t have an inventory management system and you’ve had stock sitting just sitting too long on the shelf, or have been unable to keep popular items within your demand needs, you are losing money.
What’s your track record for order and fulfillment accuracy? Obviously, the end goal is something close to a 100% accuracy rate when managing your inventory and fulfillment process. But many businesses have a hard time achieving anything near that, especially if they aren’t equipped with the right tools. If you are relying on Excel spreadsheets, you are at risk for easy errors by simply hitting the wrong key or accidentally altering a formula. A great way to increase your accuracy when managing stock is by using barcode scanning. By having barcodes for each item, you can simply scan and automatically update your inventory levels without the risk of typos.
Don’t pick up an app just to have something new – figure out what you need from a tool, then research for an app that fits those needs.
What to look for in your inventory software.
Industry compatible. Every industry has different needs when it comes to managing their inventory, and lots of software providers have created industry-specific inventory management apps. E-commerce businesses are going to need a software with access to integrations and connectivity to their online shopping carts, while 3PL fulfillment companies will need to keep their clients’ inventory well organized with the ability to have a client portal. Start your search for an inventory management system with your business industry in mind.
Compatible hardware. Some older software requires installation and IT maintenance. The reason cloud-based software is becoming the norm is that it offers security, automatic updates, and the luxury of working on any operating system with a connection to the internet. And when you look at your operations you may realize that you need a barcode scanner, a label printer, or even a mobile application. Inventory management systems like Zenventory feature rugged hardware solutions that are certified and tested with our software to ensure that it is the best solution for your business operations.
Easy data importing and exporting. When you make the switch to a new inventory management system, you are going to have to transfer your existing data into the new program. If you are upgrading from Excel, simply import your .CSV files straight into Zenventory. You don’t have to worry about painstakingly adding each item manually. Plus, you can export your inventory and more into .CSV and PDF files for easy reporting.
Ability to grow. Small businesses who are looking for a new inventory management system don’t have unlimited funds or time to pour into an entirely new software solution as the business grows. Flexible pricing plans with expanding features are usually the best option. If you don’t need the entire set of features that is offered right away, you can start off with a basic plan and add more capability as your company grows. Find inventory management software that meets your current needs and budget, but also has the flexibility to grow with you. Zenventory is a solution designed for businesses from small to large.
Ask for help.
When you’re getting started with a new software, you’re going to have questions. So ask! Just like your company, software developers want to make their products work well for you. So don’t be afraid to suggest features, either. Zenventory guides development based on customer feedback and has a rapid product development cycle that allows for flexibility. Plus, you never know: the software might be able to do what you need, and you simply haven’t discovered the feature yet. Asking for help can be the key to successfully implementing your new system.
Companies want you to love their software, so ask for help when getting started.
Also, don’t worry about defaults – customize apps to fit the way you work.
The best way to maximize the value of your tools is to get them all working together. Minimize unnecessary work and focus on building your business by automating updates, cutting down on copying and pasting information, and smoothly integrating your online marketplaces, shipping, and accounting solutions together into a central system. Get more done, faster, by controlling your inventory across multiple shopping and shipping platforms with Zenventory.
Evaluate the people, not just the product.
When you’re looking for a cloud-based software, you are building a relationship. Take a look at the company and the people who are building and running the software and give it as much attention as you are giving to the software itself. It’s important to be comfortable working with a company and product that you will be able to grow with.
Choosing the right software vendor is really about forming a partnership with your solution provider. Here are a few things to think about:
- Flexible contract terms: SaaS contract terms should be flexible and fair for both the provider and the client. Watch out for organizations that try to include long term commitments, cancellation fees, or extra charges for updates. Those are signs that they are trying to lock you into their solution. If a solution no longer works for your business, you should be able to ask the vendor to make some changes, or have the freedom to find a new product. [Moskowitz]
- Zenventory has no contracts and no obligations. Pay month-to-month or annually and cancel at any time. And ask us about trying it for free!
- Domain expertise: Of course every software vendor will have experience in the industry they develop a product for, but there is a difference between understanding how to build software and having true domain experience. True domain experience can usually be spotted in a vendor’s story about how they got started. If all the principles at the vendor lived and breathed the industry their product serves before starting their software company, there is a good chance they have broad domain experience. Their experience will translate into product designs that do a better job supporting your business, and can become a competitive advantage for you. [Moskowitz]
- Ubiquia is a software development company that also produces products like SqBx Package Tracking and SqBx Asset Tracking, along with Zenventory for inventory management. With thousands of customers all over the world, Ubiquia knows all about managing stock, keeping track of your packages, and providing top-notch cloud-based software for all of our users.
- Post-sale support: One of the most important aspects of choosing the right software provider is the support you will receive after the sale. Oftentimes a provider’s ability to support you is the difference between a failed and successful implementation. Make sure the provider includes full support in their subscription fees. Before selecting a vendor, try their support out. Look for a support team that knows the product, knows the market, and can understand what you’re telling them about your business. Ask whether support is provided by full time employees or less knowledgeable, contracted, or offshore resources. Try giving them a call or sending them an email to see how quickly and thoroughly they respond. [Moskowitz]
- Zenventory is owned and operated right here in the USA. With our servers locally based and our headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, you can be sure that you won’t be transferred to a third party call center, but to a friendly support member at our home office. Zenventory also has a help site with insightful articles and walk-thru videos to help all users 24/7 with any common questions.