The best inventory control software means the difference between meeting consumer demands on time and not meeting them. An efficient automated inventory control system gives you real-time information so that your employees have access to every piece of data about a product and how your business handles that product.
With store inventory control, you’re looking for a solution that lets you see what products you’re selling to make sure the stock is the right amount. With perishables, like food, you want to be reasonably exact so that you’re not throwing away products that don’t sell and therefore losing the initial investment rather than making the profit.
Understanding what products are selling helps you tailor your purchasing so that you don’t have products sitting on the shelf, taking up valuable space. It enables you to maintain a high quality of customer care because you can easily offer the products your target audience wants and needs.
Inventory control service is an area that’s integral to the health of many industries. Virtually any business that creates or sells products and any company that manufactures products needs to have a solid grasp of real-time information to meet supply chain needs, cater to the customer base, and increase profitability. While there are many business areas where access to stable, real-time data is essential, an inventory control program profoundly impacts your business.
Nearly 80% of companies with an excellent supply chain show higher revenue growth than their industry average. Another stunning statistic you should keep in mind when thinking about improving your supply chain – 30% of supply chain leaders listed the need to respond to customers faster and with accurate information as a top priority.
There’s no better way to improve the flow of information about product availability than to invest in an inventory control solution that gives your team more flexibility and excellent access to vital information.
How does inventory control software work?
There are different types of systems. There are inventory control systems for small businesses that can help you streamline your process, project future sales, and allow your manager or purchasing agent to asses better what you need to keep the products that are more popular in stock.
Warehouses might employ an inventory control module to keep track of inventory, costs, and productivity in a specific warehouse or, in larger enterprises where there are many warehouses, the system would give them access to data to compare inventory throughout the company. With more than one warehouse or location, inventory is sent to sites where there’s a greater need to better serve the client base.
In general, it allows you stock inventory control and access inventory control. These systems work for every type of business that deals with products. Take the example of a grocery store. The system would give management a whole picture of all of the current stock at the location, and historical data on purchases. This allows the manager to order products that are more in demand in that location.
They would also be able to determine where there is loss and what caused the loss. For instance, some locations may have damage due to theft. Using real-time data, you could find better ways to control and minimize loss by changing the locations or safety precautions for items that often go missing in this way.
The inventory is accounted for using an inventory control list, and each item is assigned a bar code. The bar code lists the numeric key assigned to the product and can be scanned into the inventory control list so that the location has a good record of the products and their location. During the sales process, barcodes are scanned so that the item is represented accurately in reporting. This automated system helps the business to keep more accurate records while simplifying the employee’s process.
Some locations might use a point of sale system (POS). There are different kinds of POS systems, some use barcodes, and others have keys on the inventory control dashboard that allow the employees to ring up items for the customers quickly. This process provides a good record of sales, which can then be compared to the inventory to assess losses at the end of a shift or on a regular schedule.
The process helps staff to increase customer service because it simplifies the exchange in a meaningful way. Staff can easily key in the order or purchase and access all of the total and change information. Management can access robust records that can be broken down by shift, day, week, or month to see patterns in a purchase. A good inventory control system gives you the tools to develop insights across your business model.
Let’s take the example of a bar, for instance.
The ability to see which drinks are purchased at a set time can inform how you choose happy hour prices and choices. It might also have an impact on your assessment of staff or overall performance. For a chain of bars, the real-time data can give you insights on the types of promotions that can increase business.
Simple inventory control can help your business prepare for future demands and find problems that account for the loss. In retail and service industry establishments, loss due to theft or breakage is called shrinkage. Shrinkage occurs due to theft from in-store patrons and employees. There can also be loss from products that don’t sell, which might include food that spoils or products that are damaged. With a robust system, you can pinpoint where your shrinkage occurs most often. This can help you to put protocols in place to protect your investments and products.
9 Best Inventory Control Software for 2023
Whether you’re looking for a system that offers robust online inventory control or you’re specifically searching for inventory control software for large business, making the right choice can be difficult. There are a lot of great solutions on the market. You need to look for the best inventory app to fit your business today and grow with you tomorrow.
The solution that you choose should solve your most significant product pain points. It should be easy for your staff to use and provide all the tools you need to meet the current and future demand for your products.
We’ve looked over all inventory control solutions on the market to compile the 9 top inventory control systems. No matter what size business or industry type, one of these systems will perfectly suit your current needs and help you improve productivity and profits in the short and long term.
SkuVault is your ecommerce inventory management solution. If your business deals with products of any type in any capacity, SkuVault can organize them so that your business runs smoother, with less loss and more profits. This solution can be used by ecommerce and brick and mortar retailers, brands, wholesalers, etc. If you’ve got inventory, SkuVault can help organize it.
The robust features included in SkuVault:
- Supply Chain. The supply chain features cover everything from managing the process with suppliers to writing and organizing purchase orders. SkuVault comes complete with robust reporting that helps you gain a more intricate overview of historical and current data to develop informed insights and projections.
- Catalog. The catalog features allow you to organize all catalog items for better oversight.
- Ecommerce. Your ecommerce solutions include features to aid in the digital process, barcoding, and reporting features that allow you to make more informed product choices.
- Warehouse. Your warehouse features cover all responsibilities, from picking to packing and shipping. Provide better oversight for one warehouse or multiple locations.
- Reporting. With advanced analytics, your reporting options allow you to oversee every aspect of your products’ life cycle and how it impacts your business on every level.
- FBA. SkuVault integrates with Fulfillment by Amazon to help you manage your Amazon business with better reporting and increased performance.
- Training and Support. SkuVault offers excellent training for your staff to help you master the system and use all the tools to improve the process. Staff members are fully supported with ample resources and an intuitive, easy to use dashboard.
SkuVault ranks number one because it offers the most versatility with robust features. This solution can provide advanced support for large enterprises, specific industries, and smaller businesses for a well-rounded solution that grows with your business.
2. Paragon ERP
Paragon ERP offers a lot of tools to tailor to your business. It integrates with Shopify and Amazon for ecommerce solutions and boasts an easy to use interface. Paragon ERP can be used for inventory control in a warehouse or multiple warehouses. Features include real-time data and reporting options to aid in overall inventory control.
Cin7 is a good choice for startups and small businesses, but it can also be used by larger enterprises. It syncs with your POS system and connects all the channels from online sales to in-person purchases. Employees will also have access to a wealth of resources in the form of articles, guides, and tutorials.
Fishbowl is a good choice for companies that use older, legacy accounting systems such as QuickBooks. This system integrates with QuickBooks and gives you inventory control solutions for manufacturing and shipping. Fishbowl offers a 14-day free trial.
5. Sage 300Cloud
This solution is good for businesses with an international customer and location base. This might be a good choice for a company that deals with many different types of currency. This solution can help make the best decisions and keep inventory accounted for in multiple locations through various countries.
6. Zoho Inventory
Zoho Inventory is a free option that might appeal to companies on a budget. It integrates with several e-commerce solutions, such as Shopify, Etsy, eBay, and Amazon. However, the free version only allows for one warehouse and one channel.
Unleashed was developed for larger enterprises with multiple warehouses and locations. With this solution, your team has access to real-time data across your organization. The pricing for the lowest level is affordable for multi-warehouse users. However, the prices increase based on the number of users that a company has, which can make it a more expensive option fairly quickly.
8. MarginPoint Mobile Inventory
MarginPoint helps you replenish inventory based on actual use to help avoid scenarios where the wrong product is overstocked and the popular object is not stocked. This allows you better precision in stocking products so that your revenue cycle management stays healthy, as well.
9. Square for Retail
Square for Retail offers tools to benefit retail locations. It works with multiple channels to help brick-and-mortar stores thrive.
Before you invest in the right solution for your business, you should have a full understanding of the type of needs that you have. A more robust solution, such as SkuVault, can grow with your business and have a full range of tools to serve any industry. Some tools were designed for specific industries and by the size of the company.
Choosing The Best Inventory Management System
As mentioned above, the best solution will depend on your own company and process. Here are some essential tips to help you assess the different offerings based on your own company needs for better decision-making.
Some aspects of a system will be more critical than others, depending on the type of company and processes involved.
A robust, international option that gives you tools to work with multiple currencies across several languages might not be necessary for a business with one location. Inventory control pictures might be a function you’re concerned with if you’re using a POS system. Whatever your specific model, make sure that the system offers tools that cater to your success.
Look for a solution that can show a proven track record for reducing costs and providing ROI. The software you choose should fit your exact business model and be flexible enough to grow with the evolution of your business.
Reporting options should be a high priority. Your inventory control software needs to be able to provide real-time solutions and give you a solid overview of how your company functions throughout the product’s life cycle. The analytics should be flexible so that you can develop specific measurements that offer insights that are integral to your company’s success.
Look for a user-friendly solution. Upgrading to new systems can be taxing because staff members are traditionally reticent to learn and train on new software. Your solution must be intuitive and easy to understand so that your staff will use all of the features available to the best advantage. You should be able to access information that helps you form a better picture of your immediate forecast.
Training options should be a significant concern when contracting a new provider. You want to choose a solution that offers many training options and support to keep your staff on track. The more confident your staff is when using the software, the more likely they will be to learn and use all of the best ROI features.
One major purpose for inventory control software is in allowing your company the ability to understand and anticipate customer needs. While no one can see the future, with the right technology, you should be able to develop fairly accurate guesses on the number of products that need to be kept in stock to meet needs.
Using Your Inventory Control Software
Investing in the best technology only helps if your staff is fully committed to using the program effectively every time. The first thing you need to do is develop a protocol for dealing with inventory and the program. This might include workflows for how information is shared between channels and on your software.
Some helpful aspects of a good inventory control program include the heightened ability to oversee your products. In prior generations, inventory lists were compiled manually. While software eliminates the need for such meticulous recording, you should still manually manage some aspects of the process, at least periodically. Manual processes might include a stock audit to make sure that your real-world products match what is listed in the program. This is also an excellent way to check on product losses.
Your program should help you find ways to identify products that should be repurposed or discontinued. One primary reason to use this type of software is to develop better product offerings. You’ll see products that are not selling, which might be a clear indication that your target audience doesn’t want the item. On the flip side, you’ll be able to watch the growth of other products that are doing well with consumers. With this information, you can discontinue some products and increase the production of other products. Making these adjustments can mean increased profits.
Real-time information is one of the most important aspects of moving to more robust software. You should look for a solution that offers cloud applications. This means that everyone in your organization with access will be able to see the latest information about an account.
Your inventory control system can help increase quality control for your products, as well. You can do this by collecting feedback and historical data and using it to generate reports based on set quarries. For instance, you might use this feature to verify that your products are of the high quality that you advertised. If you note that several people complained about a specific aspect of the product, it might be a solid lead that you should consider changing the product to better fit consumer needs.
Ideally, your solution offers automated services that let you better manage products currently and discontinue working with products that do not sell. The software should walk you through reporting features and stay up to date on your own products and the industry.
Inventory Management Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is inventory management and how can it help my business?
In general terms, inventory management is the ability to oversee and manage the products that you have available, in your warehouse, on backorder, and on your shelves. It’s an important component of business because it lets you simplify the process while offering your target audience the exact products that they want and need. With today’s technology, inventory management solutions include robust software and platforms that can track and report current products.
For companies, this is increasingly important to stay competitive. Customers expect quick, intuitive service and will quickly look elsewhere when a business doesn’t carry the products that they need.
Why should my business start to use inventory management software?
Inventory management software can improve the process for any size company that offers products. You can try to maintain inventory oversight using more old-fashioned methods, such as logging inventory and manually going over results. The problem with using the manual approach is that they are more prone to errors and often very time-intensive to put together and study.
Will a free inventory management system be enough for my business?
Free systems aren’t usually highly recommended because they have relatively strict limitations. Some free programs have caps on the number of users that can access the system. In many cases, the free version simply isn’t robust enough to grow with your company.
What are some common terms when discussing inventory management?
As with any industry, inventory management uses specific terms. Understanding these terms can help with the use of inventory control software. Here are some of the more commonly used terms:
- 3PL: This means Third Party Logistics, which indicates that an outside logistics company is used to move products.
- ABC Stratification: This is a way to categorize inventory. There are many ways that you can categorize products to give better oversight and projections.
- Actual Cost: The real cost indicates the whole cost for the production of a product. It includes materials used and labour costs.
- Blind Count: A blind count is when the product description and location are included, but the exact quantity is missing.
- COGS: Cost of goods sold.
- Distribution: This is the process to produce, store, and shipping products.
- Dry Storage: In warehouses, dry storage indicates that the item is non-perishable. So it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It’s usually noted with food items.
- EPC: Electronic Product Code
- FIFO: This stands for “first in first out.” It’s a way to rotate your inventory so that the oldest product will be purchased first.
- Item Profile: This gives you a description of the product, including dimensions, mechanics, and cost.
- Line Item: One single record from your analytics or reporting.
What is supply chain management vs. product life-cycle management?
Supply chain management is how you manage the flow of products. This starts with materials for products (if relevant) and goes all the way through the life cycle.
A product life cycle is the tracking of a product from creation or manufacturing through final sale or loss. For most products, this can be straightforward. In other cases, the product life-cycle might include placing it for sale at a discounted rate to eliminate the remaining items.
Perpetual or periodic inventory systems – which should I be using?
A perpetual inventory system is automated so that the inventory is up to date at all times. A periodic inventory system needs to be manually updated. They both have their pluses and minuses, but a perpetual system offers more robust reporting and accuracy.
Are there benefits to integrating a POS system with inventory control software?
Key benefits of integrating a POS system with inventory management software include better oversight of products in a retail environment and a simplified approach for employees. With a POS system, you’re better able to monitor loss due to theft and have a firmer idea of which items are selling.
Is software enough, or do I need to buy hardware as part of my inventory management solution?
You may need hardware depending on the system and the amount that you need to upgrade. For some systems, you’ll need scanners to make better use of the barcode features and scanning. You might need a POS system, iPads, and other hardware to help use your system to its full capacity.