Choosing the best inventory system or management application that best suits your needs can be tricky. You need to make sure that it meets your company’s specific needs and helps you achieve your goals, and allows you to achieve a return on your investment.
In this article, you will find the information you need to make the right choice.
1. Evaluate your business
Start with your company’s audit to understand what to look for in your new inventory management software. Different solutions will suit different types and sizes of businesses depending on their objectives, scope of work, and expertise.
Types of product businesses
Your type of business plays an essential role in your choice of software features and functionality.
For example, if you are a manufacturer, you will want software that allows you to track serial numbers to get a clear picture of the production process. On the other hand, if you are a wholesaler or distributor, you would like to have a B2B store to save time by allowing your customers to serve themselves.
What is your aim?
Essentially, your main use case is the most significant implementation you expect to make with your software. This can be, for instance, purchases, stock or customer order management.
While this is a crucial element to consider when evaluating software, it’s a good idea to consider your overall business objectives.
Let’s say you make wine, for example. Switching to a cloud-based solution would help better manage purchases – that’s your main use case. But your overall business objective could be to get a supermarket to reference you.
So if you’re just focusing on finding a solution with a powerful purchasing management module, you may end up with a solution that doesn’t meet your overall business objective of getting referenced.
Who’s going to use the software?
Now it’s time to evaluate who is going to use the software. This stage is useful for pricing, as it will help you decide how many users you need and who will need training. You may also consider granting permissions to users or using tools that are useful for specific teams.
What integrations would make things easier?
Inventory management software can form the core of your application suite.
So take a look at all the applications you currently use and see how you can integrate these with your inventory management solution.
It also helps to think about which applications you might use in the future. If you plan to sell on eBay or Alibaba, for example, choose an inventory system that synchronises with these platforms for sales orders.
2. Research the features you need
The range of features you can get with inventory management is almost unlimited, but it can be roughly divided between supply, production, inventory, reporting and sales.
Purchase order management software
The purchase order feature in an inventory system is designed to facilitate the creation and sending of purchase orders.
Once you have received goods in the warehouse, the inventory software will automatically update your stock levels.
Specific software also provides a platform to make your supply chain even more competitive by allowing you to compare your suppliers’ performance, see the exact cost of each purchase, and procure components in multiple currencies.
Key features to monitor include stock returns, average landed cost tracking, multi-currency purchasing, receipt of partial orders, supplier management tools and replenishment reports.
Production management software
Not all inventory solutions come with an integrated production module. So look instead for those that allow you to generate ingredient lists for your goods in the form of bills of materials, track your margins, control inventory at every stage of production, and plan future production levels.
Stock management software
Your system’s inventory management feature will show you the accurate stock levels for each finished product you sell. It will help you keep an eye on each product’s location in the various warehouses.
One particular area where many companies find inventory management software useful is inventory. Perpetual inventory systems lessen your reliance on inventories for accurate figures, which makes the process less tedious.
Sales management software
The sales management functions that you will find in an inventory system comprise two levels.
Standard features help you fill orders while maintaining accurate inventory data, providing an intuitive process for creating quotes and orders.
Higher-level features help you increase orders and revenues. For instance, a business-to-business e-commerce shop can increase wholesale orders by allowing customers to serve themselves online.
If you are not sure that the software you want has these functionalities, request a POS software demo from your supplier.
Don’t overlook reporting tools when evaluating inventory management software because these can help you unlock your business’s true potential.
In addition to researching the reporting tools that come with each inventory management software package, consider how its integrations work. Combining data from several applications can help you get even more results from your reports.
3. Pick an app
Now that you know what features you’re looking for, it’s time to find an application that meets your needs.
This step allows you to see the options available to you. If you don’t know where to start, you can ask your accountant to advise you on what applications are available or refer you to someone who can.
You can also read reviews on independent review sites such as Capterra or GetApp. Ask the companies you work with what technology they use to manage their products and processes.
Once you have a list of different options, it’s time to see how they stack up against each other.
Remember that the value of an application is not limited to its characteristics. Before you start looking for a specific solution, it is a good idea to consider a few other factors, such as your supplier’s customer service, price, updates, etc.
Before purchasing the software, make sure you adhere to budget guidelines and know what data integration is required. It’s also important to be aware of inventory issues and understand which users will be using the system. Don’t hesitate to seek expert advice if you are in doubt.