Remember the good ole’ days when you used to keep track of all your products with pen and paper? We didn’t think so. There’s just nothing good about the old fashioned way of tracking inventory. Fortunately, we now have electronic inventory management programs designed to document product amounts and ordering needs.
While it may be tempting to purchase the James Bond edition that comes with lots of whistles and bells, it’s more important that you find an inventory management software that suits your distinct needs so you can use it year after year and get the most from your investment.
Here are some of the essentials you’ll want to look for:
Is The Inventory Software Relevant to Your Industry?
Software manufacturers are developing inventory management programs that are industry-specific to meet a variety of different needs.
If you are an outdoor outfitter, for example, you may require a system that can track equipment rentals, in addition to sports gear for sale. A music academy, on the other hand, may wish to monitor their class availability, as well as instruments they repair.
Inventory management systems that cater to specialty niches will offer tools and functions relevant to those businesses, so you can safely limit your search to solutions designed for your industry.
Is the Inventory Management System Compatible with Your Hardware?
Some inventory management systems require a fair amount of virtual resources and, by necessity, will need powerful computer systems to run on. To avoid expensive hardware upgrades and ensure that the inventory software will perform well, review the optimal hardware requirements before you purchase. With only the minimum system requirements, your electronic equipment may not have the juice to sufficiently support the inventory program. And guess what? Even if the new inventory program performs adequately on the minimum system requirements at first, that may not be the case after its next update!
Another thing you’ll want to do is find out if the inventory program is compatible with PC’s, Mac’s, and other mobile devices. A web-based system, for example, will function across multiple devices, new or old, in various locations, without the hassle of required upgrades.
Can You Import and Export Data?
Your potential inventory management system should make it possible for you to import and export data to other programs your company uses. You’ll want to make sure it’s compatible with your point of sale program and accounting software, and find out if you can import data from your current inventory management system. Upgrading from Excel? Look for an inventory management system that will accept .csv or .xlsx files. You need to know that the transfer of data from other programs won’t be a problem with your new inventory platform.
Does the Inventory Software Have a User-Friendly Interface?
If the new inventory management software you want to purchase fills you with dread at the mere thought of learning to use it, you probably shouldn’t buy it. Like other business owners, you don’t have limitless time or resources to spend training employees on new software. Instead, invest in a well-designed system that’s easy to use and doesn’t make you feel like you’ll be parked on the customer support line throughout the learning curve. To determine if the inventory program’s user interface is intuitive enough for you, review screenshots and/or watch a demo.
Will the Inventory Management System Automatically Update & Backup Your Website?
If the inventory management system you’re considering only offers periodic updating, you’ll only be shown what items were in stock at the time the count was done (whether it was performed weekly, monthly, or quarterly). Look for an inventory management program that offers perpetual updating instead. That way, the system will constantly be updating to provide you with live counts that reflect what is in stock at any given time. As a bonus, real time product quantities will indicate out-of-stock items and ensure that they can’t be ordered. This helps decrease order fulfillment issues and improve customer satisfaction.
Don’t forget to inquire if the inventory management system has a backup feature and how it functions. Will you have to do it manually, or will it automatically back up your information? Automatic updates will give you one less thing to worry about!
Inventory Management Software Is An Essential Tool For Successful Businesses
Keeping a consistent and accurate account of your products at all times is easier than ever before now that software manufacturers offer a variety of electronic, industry-specific solutions to meet your inventory management needs.
From helping you avoid costly mistakes and maintain efficient order fulfillment processes to keeping your customers happy, an inventory management system is an essential tool for running a successful business.
If you’re interested in learning about an all-in-one, integrated inventory solution that always keeps your products updated—whether they’re instore or online—contact Rain POS today (we sort of gave you a sneak peek of what our POS system looks like by shamelessly using our own software photos in this article).