Inventory software is a necessity in retail business these days; both in brick and mortar stores and for ecommerce websites. It provides an easy way to monitor stock levels and keep track of orders and deliveries as they come and go. Choosing the right inventory software for your business isn’t a task that should be taken lightly. The following are some of the following considerations to take into account.
What system does it need to run on?
The vast majority of businesses use Windows PCs as their primary computers and so this is the system that offers the most options when it comes to inventory software. That’s not to say that options aren’t available for the Mac and other operating systems but choice is far more limited.
Inventory software is even branching out into the tablet space with iPad and Android apps becoming available, either as stand alone products or as a part of broader multi-platform systems. These tablet apps can be very useful in warehouses as they allow operatives to have inventory information right in front of them wherever they are, saving a lot of time and effort.
How will the software be used?
If your business is relatively small you will likely keep track your inventory personally or hire a single member of staff to do so. In this case a single license for the software is all you will need. In larger businesses, where multiple members of staff will be using the software simultaneously, you may need a larger, networked software package. The advantage of this is that no matter who makes updates, and from where they do it, stock levels and orders will be synchronized for everyone.
What features does it need?
This is perhaps the most important consideration of all. There is really no point in investing in inventory software that doesn’t do everything you need it to. Basic software will contain the basics like product data and stock levels, whereas more advanced systems may include functionality like order tracking, invoicing and automatic shipping label printing.
Other advanced features such as the ability to use a barcode scanner may be a necessity for your particular business while not strictly necessary for others. Once a sale is complete or a product has been shipped, some systems might keep the item on record for looking up information such as warranty details; others may simply remove the item from stock list.
Inventory software can also help with stock replenishment. You may want to be able to set up alerts or notifications to let you know when stock is low so you can order more. You might even want to completely remove the human element from the situation and have the software automatically send an order to a supplier when stock reaches a certain level.
So, which software is best?
It’s hard to choose a specific piece of inventory software to suit the needs of everyone; it really depends on your specific needs and as with everything, your budget. There are a number of fantastic options to choose from, and luckily many of them offer trials. Most inventory software packages come with tiered levels of service. This means that you can upgrade the functionality of the software as your business evolves, or as you take on more employees.
Ted Hosford is a business software consultant. His articles are mainly centered around inventory software solutions and appear on business blogs. Visit Ordoro.com for more software solutions.