6 Things to Consider When Choosing an Inventory Management System
Once a business grows to a certain size, makes more sales and deals with more inventory, they realize it’s time to upgrade from manual inventory management to software-based inventory management. Then, once they grow a little more, they might even outgrow their current inventory management tool and decide it’s time for a more sophisticated, feature-rich solution.
The good news is that the right software can help your business grow even more. Among small businesses that use business software, 73% report annual revenue over $100,000, compared to just 60% of companies that don’t use software. In the case of inventory management software, in particular, we’ve seen many of our customers scale their business multiple times since implementing Finale Inventory.
Choosing a good inventory management system takes lots of consideration to ensure the software has the functionality you need. What are the inventory management systems you should be looking at? While there are many software solutions out there, you want to consider each option against several criteria.
1. Cost and Budget
Inventory management systems come in a wide price range, with higher costs associated with more advanced solutions. Working with some software vendors can be tricky because they prefer not to list a price point on their website. Salespeople may also give customers different versions of the list price. Luckily, many vendors, including Finale Inventory, list their pricing online. This transparency helps you stick to your budget.
Besides the direct cost, consider whether the vendor locks you into a contract or lets you pay monthly. A long-term commitment with the wrong vendor could add huge costs that aren’t realizing business benefits. Alternatively, a month-to-month plan lets you switch if it’s not the right option for you. Plus, if it is the right option, you can even get a discount by paying for an entire year. Add in onboarding, setup and training costs to get the complete picture.
After considering cost, it’s critical to look at your budget and decide what you can afford to spend on software. Your stock control software should pay for itself, and well-designed software can improve your revenue significantly by saving time and improving inventory management practices.
Good software has a flexible, open API that integrates seamlessly with your existing business tools. Inventory management software performs even better when paired with other devices that use inventory data. Accounting software, channel managers, shopping cart platforms, online marketplaces, point of sale systems and shipping management software are all good candidates for integration. While a great solution will provide popular software integrations out of the box, you should have the option to integrate with the specialized software stack that works best for your business.
During your software exploration process, make sure you ask about the customization options if you’re considering an integration not already listed on the vendor’s website. It could be helpful to have a developer in the room with you so you can understand the various technical requirements for each software’s API and architecture. Also, get a sense of how the customization process works. Will you have a dedicated account representative who can guide you through a smooth implementation?
3. Your Business Size
The right inventory management system for you will accommodate your business size and offer scalability to grow with you. When it comes to inventory management, you must measure your business size in a few different ways. While most software provides different pricing for different numbers of users up to the enterprise level, you also need to consider other indicators of business size in inventory management.
Your software provider and chosen plan must accommodate your orders per month and the number of unique product stock-keeping units (SKUs) in your inventory. You might also consider the number of other business software tools you use and how complex your inventory is overall. Once a business hits a specific size, for example, it’s best to pair the software with a barcode inventory solution that can help your staff track inventory changes throughout the warehouse.
4. System Support
A sound inventory management system is only as good as your ability to use it, which often means the support is just as important as the system itself. While the right solution should be easy to use, it may take some training and support from a product expert to get the most out of your software. You want to get answers to your questions quickly and work with a provider who understands your business and how you want to use the software.
At Finale Inventory, for example, all our customers work with a dedicated customer relationship manager to ensure a smooth transition. Your support specialist will answer your questions and act as an implementation consultant. They’ll get to know you and your business so they can recommend the best software configurations to make your team most efficient.
Some other signs of an excellent support team include:
- Support and consulting included during the free trial period
- A robust support video library with training videos on many of the software’s features
- Fast replies to your questions with the ability to contact support over email, phone or online chat
5. Your Unique Needs
Inventory software can have a lot of unique features that make specific solutions better suited to certain businesses. Besides the essential ability to track inventory based on your sales and purchasing records, you may need some unique features, such as:
- Serial or lot number tracking: If your inventory includes products with expiration dates or items that use lot IDs or serial numbers, your inventory management system needs the flexibility to track items by serial number. It should also support any numbering system you choose.
- E-commerce solutions: E-commerce selling may involve listing live inventory counts on your online store and accepting sales from many marketplaces across the web. If you work in e-commerce, your inventory management system should have specific features to support online selling.
- Multilocation support: Businesses with multiple warehouses may need to track inventory levels across several locations and log stock changes such as transfers between locations.
- Barcode solution: As your inventory gets more complex, with more individual products and unique SKUs, a barcode solution helps you track inventory as it moves throughout your warehouse, from receiving to storage to shipping.
- Light manufacturing: If your warehouse manages light assembly, you may need to manage inventory for raw materials and finished goods alike.
6. Integration Capabilities
Besides the flexible customization options, look for a software provider that already integrates with some of your current software tools. Businesses that manage inventory often have several types of software solutions, such as:
- Accounting software
- Channel managers
- Online marketplaces
- Shopping cart platforms
- Shipping managers
- Point of sale systems
Finale Inventory integrates with nearly 50 solutions out of the box across each of these categories. All that’s needed for most is providing your login credentials.
Choose Finale Inventory for Your Inventory Management Needs
When choosing your inventory management software, be sure to consider all the essential factors, such as your budget, the capabilities you need and the support you’ll receive. Finale Inventory is a flexible, scalable inventory management software that grows with you, offering the advanced, sophisticated stock control capabilities you need to expand your business. We also provide personalized support to every customer and offer affordable plans for businesses of any size.