Inventory software is a powerful solution that helps you organize all of the data involving your inventory, purchase orders, sales orders, and much more into a nice consistent format. You can use it to protect information, assign user rights to make sure only certain individuals have access to specific parts of the software, and automate many business processes that used to be filled with tedium and fraught with risk.
Check out the sections below to learn about how inventory software prevents data errors, helps retailers, benefits all types of businesses, compares to an ERP, can be implemented in your business, and can be accessed via the cloud.
How inventory software prevents data problems
The power of inventory data comes from its stability and accuracy. It gives you a clear picture of your current situation and how you can improve it. Inventory software is an indispensable tool when it comes to improving the accuracy of your data. It helps you to:
- Eliminate double data entry by integrating accounting, eCommerce, shipping, CRM, and other business solutions together
- Ensure inventory records are correct by using barcode scanners to quickly perform cycle counts and avoid miscounts
- Allow for long-range inventory forecasts with advanced reports that break down sales and order histories and apply them to future trends
Why retailers need inventory software
When retailers try to manage their inventory with handwritten notes or in Excel spreadsheets, they often find that those are not up to the task. Notes can get scattered, destroyed, or lost, and spreadsheets have to be manually updated and are not always easy to navigate. Inventory software assists retailers by:
- Integrating their point-of-sale solution, inventory software, and accounting software together to boost efficiency
- Securely storing data and making it accessible to the right people with the help of limited access rights for software users
- Significantly reducing opportunities for human error to create data discrepancies through barcode scanners, automatic reorder points, etc.
Benefits of using inventory software
What is inventory software, what does it do, and how can it benefit your company? Put simply, it is a digital system for tracking inventory items, quantities, and orders. The benefits of using inventory software are wide-ranging and they include:
- Speeding up inventory management processes, such as picking, packing, and shipping, with the aid of barcode scanners and other tools
- Integrating with accounting solutions to maintain accurate inventory and accounting records
- Saving money by reducing carrying costs and preventing stockouts through automatic reorder points on all of your items
Inventory management by industry
Every industry in the business world has a need for solid inventory management tools and principles. This includes the eCommerce, equipment, food, manufacturing, medical retail, service, small business, and wholesale distribution industries. Inventory software helps companies in these industries:
- Trim labor expenses by automating order fulfillment processes and empowering each employee to do more with advanced hardware and software
- Make the most of their existing resources, facilities, and personnel by restructuring warehouse layouts to speed up picks, cycle counts, and other tasks
- Avoid product spoilage and obsolescence by cycling through goods efficiently with the help of expiration-date tracking and other tactics
Inventory software vs. ERP
What is the difference between inventory software and an ERP? That is like asking what the difference is between a piston and an engine. Inventory management is one small piece of what an ERP contains, so there is little to compare and contrast between them. However, there are some interesting ways in which inventory software can be made to resemble an ERP.
- An ERP is meant for large organizations while inventory software is meant for small and medium-sized businesses.
- An ERP includes accounting, business intelligence, CRM, eCommerce, human resources, sales, and other features that inventory software does not possess on its own.
- You can integrate inventory software with other business solutions to gain access to just about all of the features found in an ERP, but at a much lower price.
How to implement inventory software
There are three main types of inventory software. The first and most common one is a desktop solution, which allows client computers to access a server that they are all connected to. The second is a purely cloud-based solution that allows users to remotely access inventory data via a Web browser or app. The third is a server network solution, which is a hybrid of the other two. It allows users to remotely access the server, which is still maintained on a desktop computer. In order to implement these three inventory software types, you need to plan for the following things:
- Employee training employees understand how the software works and what their roles are within it.
- Hardware and technology requirements to ensure your computers, smartphones, tablets, and/or laptops have the right technical specifications to run the software.
- Personnel needed to implement the software, so that if something goes wrong, or you face other challenges, you have the right people on staff to get things running smoothly.
Cloud-based inventory software
Inventory software doesn’t have to be a purely desktop-based solution. It can also be online. You can track items in multiple locations, generate purchase orders, create automatic reorder points, scan product barcodes, cycle count, receive orders, and more on virtually any device with an Internet connection. Cloud-based inventory software offers several key advantages, such as the ability to:
- Avoid having to invest in new and expensive equipment by simply continuing to use existing smartphones and tablets to manage inventory.
- Cut down on IT expenses, because your data is safely stored offsite and any updates to the software are added automatically, without requiring a download.
- Easily scale your storage capacity to handle increasing inventory and orders moving through your warehouse as you grow.
Inventory control might seem like an interchangeable term with inventory management, but the two terms actually have a few key distinctions between them. Inventory control is primarily focused on the items that you already have in stock and making sure they are selling in the right quantities to justify their continued purchase in the future. Inventory management focuses on the reordering side and making sure the right numbers are coming in to avoid shortages, while also keeping carrying costs to a minimum. Inventory control software helps businesses to:
- Get rid of their old pen-and-paper inventory control method and upgrade to a more sophisticated system.
- Track parts and products in multiple locations and quickly transfer items to meet demand.
- Integrate with other business solutions and keep up with a company’s changing requirements.