If you’re thinking about upgrading or new to the world of inventory management, finding the right inventory management system can be tricky.
From simple inventory spreadsheet templates to cloud-based inventory management software and full-suite ERP systems, there are many types of inventory management systems out there, each with its own features and advantages.
This guide covers some of the key questions to ask and features to consider before making a decision.
Choosing an inventory management system? Ask these questions first
How big is your business? Small, medium, or enterprise-level?
Larger businesses usually have more complex inventory ecosystems, which require more advanced inventory management features.
What problems do you need to solve?
Make a list of inventory management challenges or other operational challenges you want your inventory management system to solve. This could include things like:
- More accurately tracking stock levels
- Reducing the cost of holding stock
- Saving time and streamlining workflows
- Increasing profits
- Forecasting customer demand
What are your must-have features?
Your business structure and the type of stock you hold will dictate the exact tools and features you need to operate effectively. For example, some inventory management systems support functions like real-time inventory valuation, while others have basic stock level monitoring.
What’s your budget?
Costs can vary considerably between systems – but remember that paying for essential functionality can increase your profitability and decrease costs over time.
What integrations do you require?
Most but not all cloud-based inventory management systems integrate with other key applications, such as POS and eCommerce platforms, shipping providers, logistics providers, etc.
How many people will be using it?
If multiple teams or people will be accessing your system, it’s a good idea to choose cloud-based software that updates automatically in real time for everyone to see.
What level of support do you need?
Most providers offer varying support hours and training resources. Some offer free support as part of the standard subscription, while others charge extra.
Inventory management software features to look out for
When comparing inventory management systems, here are some of the most important features to consider:
Automatic, real-time inventory updates
One of the biggest advantages of a cloud-based inventory management system is not having to manually update stock levels. Using a system that updates inventory levels automatically is a huge time-saver for your whole team.
If you need to check stock levels or create orders on the go, it’s a good idea to choose a system with a mobile app you can use anywhere, at any time.
Most but not all cloud-based inventory management systems offer some level of integration capabilities. Depending on your needs, look for a system that can easily integrate with other critical software, including:
- eCommerce e.g. Shopify, BigCommerce
- Shipping software
- POS e.g. PayPal, Square
- Manufacturing e.g. Katana
- Warehousing management systems
To grow and be successful, you need to be able to track your performance and plan ahead. Look for an inventory management system that can provide key insights like reports of your best-selling items, total sales, and total taxes.
Find an inventory management partner – not just a vendor
Choosing an inventory management partner – not a vendor – is the big difference-maker for many growing businesses.
But what’s the difference?
A vendor simply supplies a product or service to businesses, such as a software package or a piece of technology. A partner, on the other hand, not only provides a product or service, but also becomes an extension of your business and offers support, expertise, and resources along your growth journey.
QuickBooks is the chosen inventory management partner for businesses in a wide range of industries thanks to the free unlimited support that’s built into every subscription.
Businesses who use QuickBooks for inventory management can also track inventory levels in real time, create purchase orders on the go, generate key reports and integrate with other critical software.
Interested in seeing how it works? Sign up for a free 30-day trial.