“What to Look for in an Inventory System?”, Retail Companies Ask.
If your company handles more than five inventory items that you sell for profit and your inventory management process has already gone inefficient, then face it; you need an automated inventory system.
As an owner of a small, thriving business, one of your aims should be to reduce man-made and clerical errors. Thus, if you are still sticking with the manual approach that makes use of pen, papers, clipboards, and unorganized spreadsheet files, then you know where your business is heading to.
An inventory system is an important component that can assist in your daily operations. It streamlines most of the processes involved in inventory management by automating the jobs that can be automated.
Choosing an Inventory System The Right Way
As soon as you are finally convinced to invest in an inventory system, the next challenge you will face is ensuring that you end up with the right software for your company. In this digital age, a lot of system providers worldwide are busy selling their inventory solutions and with the plethora of options you will be presented online, the choosing process can get tough. One simple mistake or lack of consideration can put your investment to waste.
On that note, here are the factors that you must consider:
- Cost. With the emergence of cloud-based systems, small businesses can finally take advantage of inventory systems without tearing their wallets too much. However, one of the things shoppers tend to do is impulsively investing in systems that are packed with features which means higher cost to pay. That said, you may want to think many times over before buying a solution that comes with all the bells and whistles and make sure they are all bound useful for your operations – something you can gauge when and if you are already firm with the features you will need.
Reviewing your current management process will help identify which areas have loopholes and which are already good as is. Understanding your business requirements is vital as functionality and features strongly affect the cost you will have to pay.
So, if what you only need is a program that can fast-track the monitoring of item flows and stock levels, you can safely settle with a basic inventory system package. But if your budget is way beyond that, you might also want to invest in advanced, managerial features like stock analysis and forecasting.
- Usability. Besides cost, usability also matters if you are to invest in an inventory system. The importance of this factor mostly depends on how ready and savvy your team is in using technological advancements such as an inventory system. Now, if you are not confident about your team’s readiness, you will want to invest in a user-friendly and usable system that will only take an hour or two for your staff to learn at most.
You can gauge that by asking for a system demo right from the login or signup form up to the fulfillment of orders and generation of reports. Or you can ask the system provider upfront about the system’s learning curve. If it is too high, you might want to check your other options instead.
- Reports Facility. At the core, inventory systems are deployed to streamline the recording of transactions and maintain data accuracy and efficiency and reliability of operations. However, apart from that, another essential feature of an inventory system is its reports and analytics facility which aims to help the managers and business owners make a guided decision on time.
Majority of standard inventory systems feature a pre-defined reporting facility that sets editable parameters and key metrics to yield different reports. As much as possible, choose an inventory system that can at the least automate the process of reordering in light of the reports. This factor also covers the automated alerting of the users whenever an item is near its restocking point.
- Integration Capability. If it is still a thriving small company you own which maintains a few inventory items for limited customers, a standard inventory system can already cater to your needs. However, if you plan to expand in the near future, you may want to take the system’s integration capability into account.
Because inventory management is closely related to the business’s other areas, it marks as a good starting point to know which other systems or software can be synced with your inventory system especially in the accounting and e-commerce areas.
Also Visit: Best Projectors Under $100
- Multiple Locations. Managing inventories is not easy but it gets even more complicated and challenging if you are managing inventories from multiple channels or branches and you do not have a good inventory system in place.
If you fell under this category, consider purchasing a cloud-based inventory system with a centralized hub to facilitate synchronized inventory data and get a bird’s eye view of your business.
- Training and Support. Do not be a business owner who neglects the vitality of having reliable and quality customer support because in case your system acts up, you surely do not want to suffer operational downtime that can affect your revenue real bad.
The message here is clear; choose an inventory system with comprehensive and highly available technical support such that whenever technical issues arise, they will be addressed with quality and in a timely manner.
- Reliability. When you reach a point of having to choose between a desktop-based and a cloud-based application, you may want to opt for the latter. With it, you will no longer have to worry about data loss as regular data back-up is guaranteed. Most importantly, real-time data updating is facilitated.
CHOOSE A CREDIBLE INVENTORY SYSTEM PROVIDER
No matter how far your considerations go, it all boils down in choosing the right inventory system provider to entrust your investment to. It is always best to err on the side of caution. That said, you may want to also take into account the feedback and reviews you can find on the web about the system providers you are considering to make sure you end up with a reputable one. It is how you take advantage of information online.