5 important factors to consider when choosing an Inventory System

03 September 2021
Equation Lge 8233
Inventory management has come a long way since the days of excel spreadsheets and manual stocktakes. If your business has outgrown its current ways of managing inventory, it may be time for an upgrade. Before you make the investment, here are a few key considerations to help you find the best inventory management system for your business.

Inventory management or stock management software provides businesses with a smart way to monitor and maintain stock, whether that’s in the form of raw materials or finished products. Using software to manage your inventory is a smart way to use technology to run your processes and procedures. And this, in turn, mitigates the risk of human error and gives you that all-important competitive edge.

Do I need an inventory management system?


Keeping customers happy is the aim of the game for any business. And if you can minimise the chance of errors, you have a far greater chance of holding onto that hard-earned reputation for good customer service.

A good inventory management tool can help reduce the mistakes. Whether it’s running out of stock, overstocking, or oversights on expiry dates, a good stock system can improve efficiency and keep track of everything in one central, cloud-based location.

If you’re stuck trying to find the best inventory management system for your business, here are five questions you should ask first.

1.    How are your sales generated, and how do you want them to flow into your stock system?

How do you make sales? Do you sell online, through a retail store or sales reps? How your sales transactions are generated will influence what inventory management you choose.

For businesses that sell online, you will need to determine if you want the sales to flow directly into your inventory management software. Different stock systems integrate with different eCommerce platforms. It’s worth making sure your new inventory system will work with the online platform you’re currently using and save yourself a big headache.

If you have sales reps out on the road making sales, you’ll need to consider how their transactions are entered into the system. Do you need an inventory management system that can work through an app, or does it need to integrate with iPads or laptops? Ideally, you want to avoid purchasing new devices or equipment.

For retail businesses, you will need to consider how your current POS system will integrate with the inventory system. Do you want to use an inventory management system with a built-in POS system or retain your current one?

 

2.    Do you need to batch track or record serial numbers against the items you buy and sell?

An essential part of the decision-making process will be working out what you are trying to achieve with your system. Many businesses need to batch track in order to monitor expiry dates or differences within product types.

Having features that allow you to batch track or record serial numbers in your inventory system will make it much easier to meet Health and Safety requirements. The ability to record product details at the time of receipting or selling goods means you know exactly which customer was sold which batch and when it was purchased.

 

3.    Do you need to invoice your clients before the goods have arrived so your stock goes into the negative?

Not all inventory management systems will have this feature, reinforcing the importance of finding the right system for your business rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

 

4.    Do you need to manage both stock and job management?

A number of inventory systems do not have a job management functionality option. If you require stock management and job management, you’ll need to do your homework to ensure you find a system that offers both of these features.

It’s worth noting that batch tracking, serial number tracking and manufacturing tracking are not typical features for job management and stock control systems, so you may need to consider a workaround or customisation.

 

5.    Are you trading with a major retailer that requires you to use EDI?

Different systems manage this in different ways. There are options to use a third party integration which comes at an additional cost and will have an ongoing monthly fee from the third party. Alternatively, there are stock systems that integrate directly, so there’s no need for third party involvement. Expect there to be a one-off initial fee for set up, and then you are away.

 

 

Inventory Management Tools


Now you know what you need to consider before you choose an inventory or stock management system, it’s time to take a look at what’s available. There are many options out there, ranging from free inventory management systems through to paid tools offering multiple functionality. Here are some of the top inventory management systems Equation recommends to its clients.

Xero Inventory

Xero Inventory is a good, basic inventory system and is ideal for businesses that buy and sell finished goods. This is a system that is ideal for businesses with one location and ideally have less than 4,000 stock items (SKUs).

A few key features

·       Gives you the ability to manage tracked and untracked stock.

·       Allows for stock adjustments

·       Well suited for an organisation that doesn’t require negative stock.

·       Offers some basic stock reports to measure sales and current stock on hand movements, values and quantities.

 

Unleashed

Unleased is a level up from Xero Inventory and would work for a business that buys and sells finished goods and is also a good option for manufacturers. Unleashed integrates with Xero and around 30 other systems, including Shopify, Vend, Amazon, SalesForce and many more.

A few key features:

·       Allows you to invoice out if you don’t have the stock

·       Provides the ability to create Bill of Materials and run the production process to create a finished goods cost.

·       Allows you to create roles with different user rights

·       The ability to have an EDI integration through a third party

·       Large suite of reports with a drag and drop option to customise

·       An app that allows sales orders to be created out on the road

·       Allows for multiple warehouses, up to 10 sell price tiers

·       Allows serial and batch tracking

·       Customised B2B portal and reporting

 

CIN7

Cin7 is a comprehensive inventory management tool that can manage sales through online, wholesale and retail channels. It comes with a built-in POS system and warehouse management functionality.

A few key features:

·       Direct integration for EDI, no third party required

·       Forecasting functionality

·       Production management

·       Choose how you track your stock by perpetual or periodic

·       Large suite of reports which can be customised and fields added by request

·       Barcode printing

·       Role-based dashboard customisable by user roles

·       Software can be customised to meet your needs

·       Create your own stages of sales orders

Simpro

Simpro is a good option for an organisation in need of both stock control and job management functionality. Job management allows you to easily track work from the desktop or a mobile device.

A few key features:

·       A service-based mobile app

·       Includes a scheduler and fleet tracking

·       Provides alerts and notifications when stock is low or stock arrives in

·       Request multiple suppliers pricing at the same time and see them side by side for a                price comparison

·       Integrates with a number of add-ons

 

Ready to get a competitive edge and invest in inventory management? We’re happy to help. Get in touch today.

 


 

 

 

 

 

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