Inventory control, or stock control, refers to the process of managing a company’s inventory levels by reducing the number of slow-moving stocks and increasing the number of fast-moving items. Inventory control also focuses on monitoring the movement, utilization, and storage of products, be it in a company’s warehouse or across multiple locations.
If you are a retailer, wholesaler, or e-commerce business owner, inventory control will help you ensure adequate stock levels. By doing so, you can also stay on top of purchase orders and ensure an efficient supply chain.
Among the other benefits of inventory control are:
- Cost savings: Inventory control saves resources like time and money, as businesses won’t have to devote man-hours to reordering and receiving goods they don’t need.
- Better warehouse management: Businesses no longer need to devote precious warehouse space to hold slow-moving products, cutting down on storage costs and making space for fast-moving items.
- Avoiding overstocking & spoilage: Inventory control keeps you from making rash decisions and protects your goods from spoilage, overstocking, and obsolescence.
Inventory control solutions
There are four main ways to maintain inventory in a small business or enterprise:
Pen and paper
Some businesses still use good old pens and paper to track their inventory. This is the cheapest and quickest way to get started, especially if you don’t have a lot of items in stock. However, it’s also easy to lose notes—and it’s nearly impossible to data mine for future physical inventory needs.
You can also use Google Sheets or Excel spreadsheets, which are great for storing information and are easy to access. The main downside is that they can’t be automatically updated, so you’ll have to manually update them and build a custom inventory management system using spreadsheets.
Basic inventory system
A simple inventory system will take care of basic inventory control functions and is specifically designed to automate some stock control processes. It’s more advanced than spreadsheets but may not have all the features a larger or scaling business might need.
Warehouse inventory management software
A more advanced option is warehouse inventory management software, which is inexpensive enough to be in small and midsize businesses’ price ranges but also scalable so that it can meet a company’s needs as it grows and requires more complex features.
Tips for picking the right inventory control solution
Where as simpler inventory control systems are adequate for startups, they cannot keep up if you have more complex inventory or warehouse management needs. There are a lot of advanced software solutions available for companies to purchase, but how do you pick the right one for your business?
To find the right inventory control solution, consider the following:
Prioritize depending on your products
Your priorities will differ based on what you sell. For example, if you sell food items, you will focus on ensuring you don’t overstock so that nothing spoils. If you mainly sell small, fast-selling items, you will likely focus on optimizing your supply chain and vendor relations.
Assess your existing setup
Do you have physical inventory in multiple warehouses? Do you use QuickBooks, Magento, Salesforce, or other business solutions you need to integrate with? Assess your setup and list the features you think you will need in the coming years as your company expands.
Decide on a budget
Establish how much you can afford to pay for inventory control software. Write down the cost of each solution you investigate, including training and software expenses, and then match up those costs to the time and monetary savings you will enjoy by putting them into practice.
Be in control with Fishbowl
Fishbowl is an affordable inventory solution that features an inventory tracking function that lets you oversee tens of thousands of parts and products in multiple warehouses. It is the best choice for small and midsize businesses because of its seamless integration with QuickBooks and dozens of other solutions, plus its flexible feature set and enormous library of training and support resources.
If you are interested in learning how Fishbowl’s flexible inventory management solution can help your business now, you can book a demo