Inventory Management Software is nothing new. Since the advent of modern computer systems, one of the first obvious applications of it is inventory management. Because inventory management, is somewhat straightforward and theories behind warehouse management can be easily be adapted in a digital environment, the invention of the inventory management software systems comes as a no brainer.
As with all businesses, the only way to grow retail is to invest in it. But to ensure that you choose the right investment for you, you have to pick and choose depending on what you know about your business and how you want it implemented. Focusing on how the world is trending towards a frictionless, paperless format might give you a few hints on how to go ahead. But it will still all be vague and you have to figure it out yourself to make it happen.
This article will guide you to choosing the best inventory management software for you. It will also explain how you would grow your business using a simple classic system.
To simplify things, the path towards the perfect inventory management software will be taken step by step. No matter your budget, how big your business is, or what kind of business you run, there will always be a perfect inventory management software for you. The only requirement really is that you should know the ins and outs of your business and you can get started.
Step 1: Know what your business needs
It is very easy to just go online type in “Inventory Management Software” then buy the first item you see that fits your budget. If you are lucky, you could get a decent software, but no one has that kind of luck – not in the retail business at least.
First and foremost, you should understand the ecosystem of your warehouse or stockrooms. How fast are the products moving? What are your biggest concerns? Do you have to organize everything by the rack, by the shelf space, or by the container? These, and a boatload more of questions, needs to be answered first before buying that expensive software.
Efficiency is key. To know what you need, you need to know how you are doing first. If you are running an inefficient inventory system, you then need to set the bar to the level of efficiency that would satisfy you. These efficiency metrics should be quantifiable because you would not to start judging your business by just feeling.
There is a scientific way of knowing how well your inventory is doing. And it starts by honestly answering these questions:
- Do you ever run out of inventory? And how often does that happen?
- Does a need to dispose of stock ever occur? Like for when your products expire, spoil or just simply deciding that you need to make room for some more lucrative products
- How are you tracking your inventory? Are there tags or barcode designations?
- How organized is your warehouse or stockroom? Do you need a map to get to where you are going to?
- Would you consider your warehouse as generally safe? When was the last time someone had an accident?
- How fast are your suppliers and how quick are you to distribute?
- How reliable is your inventory system? Can you confidently derive your sales from your remaining stock?
- How adaptable is your system? Can you switch order quantities on the fly?
- Is your inventory management system enough to automate promotions and discounts or do you rely on your salesperson’s memory?
- And finally, how does everybody else react to your inventory system? Do customers have to wait 30 minutes to get their purchase ready? Are your stockroom personnel constantly exasperating at how difficult it is to work with your inventory?
Answering these questions will be a good starting point in hunting the best inventory management software for you. Especially pay attention to the ones you are lacking at, then in choosing the software, pick the one that will fill that need.
For instance, if you have no way of tracking your inventory, you have to get an inventory system that allows for product identification. Be it by fancy QR code stickers, simple tags, or at the very least, a system that can read barcodes.
If these questions made you pause and feel bad about the business you are running, then know that you do not have to feel sorry for yourself. Tons and tons of other businesses go through the exact problems that you have. Take this challenge not as a draw back but as an opportunity to keep improving your business.
Step 2: Accept that you need an inventory management software
You could have arrived at this part of the article already having accepted that you need help. And the best help that you can get is through an inventory management software that will fill your need. Sure, some are pricey and some are not industry ready and is going to drive you nuts. But the most important part is knowing that you are going to have to shell out some funds to better your business.
Step 3: Set aside that budget now
A mismanaged inventory is a cash hole you do not want your profits to fall into. Setting aside the budget for that system of your dreams is the next step.
Step 4: Get the right inventory management system
Once you have readied yourself for finally buying a system. Here are the considerations you have to keep in mind when choosing:
- This one is probably obvious, choosing the one that is right for you is optional, but choosing one within your budget is mandatory.
- Technical Support. Techies rule this world so you better have a handful of them ready to support you at your beck and call.
- Learning Curve. Each software system has a learning curve you have to consider. It is normal to start using a system and slowing things down for a bit at first but you have to ensure that it will be faster than the old system in the long haul.