I'm going to tell you a story about cloud-based inventory management. About three years ago I loaded up my backpack and left for Ireland with little more than a wallet and camera. By the end of the trip I had stuffed my belly with pasta from Italy and beer from Germany, lips permanently stained red with French wines, a notebook stuffed with train tickets and stories, and a laptop full of pictures.
You may now be wondering how this relates to cloud-based inventory management. As you may, or may not, have guessed, cloud storage is something I probably should’ve considered using to preserve all of these memories and keep them safe. You guessed it. Ten thousand pictures, three months, and some 10,000 miles later… all I had were the memories.
I did not have cloud storage. Subsequently, I do not have pictures from that trip anymore. If I did have cloud storage, a hard drive crash would’ve just been a minor inconvenience instead of a hyperventilating state of terror. I could have easily gone online and pulled my backup down from the cloud.
Without meaning to put you into a similar state of discourse, can you imagine if something like this were to happen to your inventory system? How much money could you lose?
What is Cloud-Based Management Software?
There's basically two types of warehouse management systems: local and cloud-based management software. "Local" means it's downloaded onto your computer (locally). An example of this would be how in the "good old days" you went to an actual store to get a hard copy of the software you wanted (Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego video game, etc.). Alternatively, cloud-based management software means your inventory management system is online-- up in a mysterious cloud somewhere, waving down at you.
So, with the growing popularity of cloud-based systems, it's important to consider the benefits to using one in your own business. From security to convenience, there's a lot of benefits cloud-based inventory managements software offers that local software cannot. Here's a few reasons why you should consider making the switch.
1 | Data Recovery
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but your data is probably much more important than my vacation pictures. So, losing that data is a serious issue that can lead to loss of businesses or sales.
If you’re using a software that stores data locally and doesn’t at least have some form of cloud backup, you’re putting yourself at risk of a Delta Airlines-sized problem. Instead of a people management problem, however, you’ll have an inventory management problem. A taste of the many things you could risk losing:
- Sales reports
- Customer data
- Transaction reports
- Order statuses
- Your inventory list (have fun relisting everything)
However, this problem easily remedied with an online (or cloud-based) inventory management system. With a system like this, responsibility is placed on the provider to store your data, and relieves you of the duty of remembering to perform daily or weekly backups.
2 | Cost-Effective
To give you an example of how cloud-based and differs from locally based systems, think of Bitcoin. Bitcoin provides businesses and people with the possibility of accepting payments without any hardware-- no purchase necessary. With local software you have enormous upfront costs, like hardware.
Below, we've provided a graph from SoftwareAdvice.com that shows the estimated costs from 161 different warehouses. It compares both local and cloud-based inventory management systems so you can see for yourself how the two compare.
With whatever system you choose to use, you will, eventually, see a return on your investment. However, If you decide to switch to a cloud-based inventory management system later, you'll likely stuck with a bunch of expensive hardware you can’t use, or it may take longer for you to recover your expense.
In addition, implementation is typically shorter for online inventory management systems. This is because it comes with its own IT team, which means less headache and less money.
Businesses come in all shapes and sizes, which means scalability is particularly important for smaller sellers. SkuVault now offers a package starting at just $99. Want to add more? No problem. Grown out of our basic package? Great! We grow with you. You can even pay based on how many people are using the software.
3 | Work From Anywhere
Most business owners don’t get to punch out at 5:00, in which case, a cloud-based inventory management system is likely the key to setting his or her mind at ease while on the go. Local software limits the users to those that are physically in the warehouse.
This makes inventory management difficult for anyone (ie. the business owner) to view or edit from anywhere else. Both warehouse managers and owners can both have access to the inventory system and make necessary changes regardless of their physical location.
The other benefit of having off-site access to warehouse inventory is employee accountability. Warehouses have endured countless employee theft scandals that cause losses for businesses. With a cloud-based inventory management system that you can access from anywhere, you can monitor quality control reports which show you user feedback. Business owners have the ability to supervise the warehouse, even if they can't be physically there. While it's not one of the nicer benefits to look at, it's an asset to consider.
4 | Scalability and Flexibility
If you’re a growing business, you need a software that grows with you. This is a struggle some companies that are using local inventory management systems face.
They find that as they expand to new channels, geographies, or business models, their system is unable to accommodate them. With a cloud-based inventory management software, you can scale your software without the hassles of purchasing new soft or hardware. In addition, cloud-based inventory management software typically charges you per user, instead of one huge flat fee, which gives smaller warehouses the means to compete.
Additionally, as your business grows so do your needs, and with local software that means purchasing new equipment or software. In fact, with a cloud-based system like SkuVault, you can scale up or down depending on what you find your needs are. SkuVault offers a range of packages, for businesses anywhere between Etsy stores to enterprises. As you use it, the software scales up or down depending on your needs so you can pay for the services you pay for.
5 | Automatic Software Updates
Perhaps, due to the past abuse my laptop has inflicted upon me (like unpredicted hard drive crashes) sometimes, out of spite, I'll go months without updating the software on it. I'll finally cringe and succumb to 20 or so painful minutes of anticipated waiting (Stranger Things won't watch itself). Much more seriously, for a business, this waiting likely means money in the form of wasted payroll or delayed sales.
Cloud-based software updates your software automatically- without any work from you. Unlike local software, online inventory management software can automatically patch a problem, fix a bug, or update your system with new features as they come out. Don't waste time waiting for your software to work for you.
6 | Low Risk
In all honesty, it’s probably riskier to sign up for iTunes than a warehouse management system software. Sometimes, with local software you don't even get the chance to test drive the car before spending as much as $70,000 (according to Software Advice). Since we're talking about test driving, you could literally buy a Maserati with that kind of cash. With online inventory management software, you have no equipment to buy and you subscribed to it like you would a Spotify subscription. Discover it's not right for you? Unsubscribe! Easy.
7 | Personalized
Because it’s cloud-based, not only do you get automatic updates, your software is personalized. With cloud-based warehouse management systems, like SkuVault, you can request features that fit your business. Our services team is working tirelessly to add features to your software year-round and always coming up with new features which update (as previously mentioned) automatically. But, if there’s something we haven’t thought of yet, we love hearing from our customers because we’re dedicated to making your job easier.
There are several options out there for warehouse management systems. So, to compete, these companies have to offer innovative technology to keep their customers happy. Some companies, however, like SkuVault, go the extra mile to make sure you’re running at 100% efficiency. All you have to do is go to the website and click "Request a Feature", and we'll do our best to create it for you.
8 | Security
Despite having the piece of mind of data protection from worst-case-scenario situations like mine, you’ll also have the security of a cloud-based system that can be accessed remotely in the event of a security breach. While this isn't typical in warehouses, you shouldn't be left unprotected. In the event of a disgruntled employee or warehouse manager departure, it may be beneficial to have off-site access to your inventory. In an age of growing security concerns, you should consider taking preemptive measures to protect you and your customers.
9 | Free Up IT
At SkuVault, we have an amazing one-man IT department named Joseph. But, from what I understand, most employees don’t have the same chummy relationship with their IT department. If you’re one of those businesses with an overwhelmed department unable to service as many people as needed (or maybe you don't have one at all), then we have good news. Cloud-based inventory management systems provide their own IT. This means no lost time or money due to training your end, and a team of timely, knowledgeable people on ours. Cut the cord (pun intended) with your overwhelmed IT team and stop waiting for help. Our average response time is 8 minutes and 31 seconds. We're basically waiting for you to message us, like a creepy 80's Sting song.
10| Immediate Implementation
You can literally start using one, like… right now. With cloud-based inventory software, there's no waiting. If you're ready to take the next step in efficient inventory management you shouldn't have a lengthy implementation process that sets you back weeks or months. There's no need for a representative to fly out to you to install hardware and spend hours downloading it to your system. With SkuVault, you can implement at whatever speed you're most comfortable with. What's better: you can have it right now. So what are you waiting for? Give SkuVault a call... like now.
If you’re a newer business, it might be helpful to consider that starting cloud-based is inherently easier than converting to cloud-based (which, let’s face it, you’ll end up doing). Why? It’s more cost-effective, secure, and scalable than your traditional options. Cloud-based inventory management systems scale as your business grows and provides you with automatic updates, new applications, and can even give you features that are catered to your business, all of which are instrumental to businesses of any size and scale.