Having a reliable inventory management system can work wonders for any business, big or small. It’s infinitely easier to be able to have all of your inventory information in one convenient place rather than dealing with multiple spreadsheets or software to find what you’re looking for. With an inventory management system, you can simply enter each item that comes into your business and instantly see where it is at all times, giving you up-to-date information from anywhere and preventing you from over-or understocking any given product.
But with so many different inventory management systems available, how are you supposed to know which one is best for your business? We’ve created this guide to help you narrow it down. Asking yourself these seven questions before researching inventory management systems will save you tons of hassle and make the decision process that much easier.
What does your business look like?
Before you can pick your ideal inventory management system, you’ll need to take a step back and consider what your business looks like. It might seem strange to break down your own business in this way, but it’s actually a vital step toward finding the inventory system that’s going to work best for you in the short- and long-term. This question is actually twofold: what size business do you have, and what industry are you in?
Businesses that are just starting out may not be in need of an expensive inventory management system in the early days, while businesses that are growing quickly might be able to afford (and might benefit from) a more expensive and thorough system. Additionally, while many inventory management systems are more “one size fits all,” some offer features specific to certain industries. If you know you’ll have specific needs because of the type of work you do, this point is definitely something to consider.
What challenges do you have?
Anything you purchase for your business should aim to solve a problem. So, what problems are you looking to solve with your new inventory management system? Think about the specific roadblocks you’re facing in terms of managing your inventory and growing your business overall.
Going into the purchasing process without considering this key question could lead to you spending tons of money on a product that doesn’t actually help you move your company forward. Once you’ve determined what your biggest challenges are in managing your inventory, think of the features that might be helpful to solve these problems. Be sure that whatever inventory management system you select has the features you need to address these challenges. If you’re not sure, reach out to that company’s customer support team for more information.
How much support will you need?
Speaking of support, it’s a critical part of selecting your new program. When you purchase an inventory management system, you’re not only buying the system itself; you’re also paying for customer support. Some businesses need more support than others, and that’s completely okay. Just be sure that your chosen system has the support you’ll need, both at your current status and into the future as your company grows.
If this is your first time purchasing a system like this, you may want a more hands-on and readily available customer support team, but if you’re more experienced, you may be okay with a smaller support department. On the other hand, smaller businesses with simpler solutions may be okay with less support since there are fewer moving parts, while bigger companies might need a more dedicated support team to help with the more complex inventory management system. Consider reading customer testimonials or starting a free trial of service to get a better feel for their support team.
How many people will use the system?
Every inventory management system is different in terms of its capacity, so it’s important to determine how many people within your company will need access to it (and who those people will be). Smaller and more basic inventory management systems may only have access for one or two users, while more advanced systems can accommodate more people.
Within this same vein, you can decide whether you want to opt for a cloud-based system. Especially if you have more than one location you’re looking to track at a time, it can be helpful to have a cloud-based system so employees at each location are always on the same page with matters of inventory. Then, you won’t have to worry about someone missing a call or responding late to an email that contains time-sensitive information.
What is your budget?
Of course, you’ll need to take the time to determine your budget. Some inventory management systems come with a free trial or allow users to access a basic version of the program for free, which can be great for smaller businesses who are just testing the waters. However, for bigger businesses, the costs of a high-quality inventory management system can even go up into the six-figure range. It all just depends on your budget and your needs.
Do keep in mind, though, that the less you’re paying for an inventory management system, the less you’re likely getting. Consider this purchase as an investment for your business, and decide how much you’re willing to put in for an overall more productive and cost-effective company. You can also consider the money that you’ll be saving on man-hours since you’ll no longer have to track inventory by hand. Thinking about your purchase through this lens can make it easier to justify spending the extra money on your program of choice.
What reports do you need?
Not only can your inventory management system help you keep track of your products, but it can also help you run reports and determine the prime levels of inventory for any given item at any given time. When you’re first starting out, you might be able to make these reports yourself, but it will become more difficult as your business grows. That’s where an inventory management system with superior reporting capabilities can come in handy.
Consider what kind of reports would benefit your company overall, and more specifically, which reports you’d rather allow your software to run for you as opposed to creating them yourself. High-quality management systems will provide smart reporting that automatically generates ideal stock levels to match supply and demand based on historic data. Not only can this step save you a ton of time, but it also eliminates the possibility of human error, allowing you the peace of mind to order with confidence.
What integrations will you need?
Your inventory management system is not going to be the only tool your business uses. You’re likely already using several different types of software or web platforms to run your business as it is! The idea of changing more about your business than what is absolutely necessary is probably nerve-wracking, so it’s important to select an inventory management system that can integrate seamlessly with the tools you’re already using.
Some things to consider are possible integrations with your accounting software, third-party sellers, or eCommerce platforms for online businesses. Many inventory management systems work with big names like Amazon, eBay, PayPal, Xero, and Shopify, to name a few. Integrations capabilities can vary from system to system, though, so be sure to verify that your potential inventory management system will work with the programs you’re already using. This simple step will save you tons of headache down the road.
Discover the Possibilities with DEAR Systems
With these seven questions at your disposal, you’re well on your way to determining the best inventory management solution for your company. This tool is an incredible way to invest in your business, saving you the time and hassle of managing all your inventory and reporting yourself and allowing you to focus on the aspects of your business that you’re truly passionate about. In your search, consider DEAR Inventory, a comprehensive cloud ERP software that can handle all the needs of any company, any size, in any industry.
Our system provides countless more features than what you’ll find in a standard inventory management system. Not only does DEAR Systems offer inventory management, but we also assist with accounting, POS, sales, purchasing, manufacturing, eCommerce, and so much more. We’re proud to have assisted tons of clients from around the world to move their businesses forward, and our dedicated customer service team is here every step of the way to help answer any questions you might have. To learn more about DEAR Systems, get started with your 14-day free trial, today!
INNO is the leading DEAR partner in China. We will provide you with support through your 14-day trial and beyond. To explore DEAR key modules of sales, purchase, inventory, CRM, financials and reports in 30 mins, click to book your time slot for a live demo.
INNO cares about data accuracy since it is a core value for small businesses navigating the change of the market. Having developed a unique approach to ongoing monitoring, we take clients through the beginning stage smoothly and they quickly learn how to operate the new software. At INNO, we believe it is essential to build up trust and empower staff and management to make well-informed decisions about the business with the help of powerful software.
INNO founder Jano Tse has 12 years of experience in implementing ERP systems for foreign and local SMEs. He also specializes in the accounting process under China’s business environment. Jano’s passion for disciplined delivery and methods for meeting goals on time and under budget is exactly what INNO brings to each of the clients.
- Assessment and software selection
- Software implementation
- Customized integration
- On-going monitoring and support
- Outsourcing of virtual CFO and cloud accountants
This article was originally posted at Dear Systems.