How To Find The Best Inventory Management Software (For Small Business Owners)
It’s hard making sure that you have the right amount of stock to meet demand. Not only that though, you also need to have it in the right place at the right time. Particularly if you have your records on partially updated spreadsheets and scribbled in notebooks.
Couple this with the absence of real knowledge of what it is actually costing you to make your product (not the back of the envelope calculation you did when you had the idea in the first place!) and things can very quickly spiral downwards.
Manually recording movements in stock is time consuming and highly susceptible to errors. Changing the costs in your spreadsheet or paper copy every time a supplier changes prices is a nightmare.
With customers, suppliers and the very existence of your business relying on you, not being able to answer questions around your stock levels and costs quickly becomes frustrating for everyone involved.
The Problem with Inventory Management Problems
So, you don’t have an inventory and stock management system…..so what, right? After all, you’ve survived this long without one and what harm is it having a little extra product or even a small wait time because of low stock? Too much stock, too little stock and too much invested in making stock really can all result in seriously jeopardising the long term viability of your business. Knowing your stock levels and exactly what it costs to make the product is a vital component of any business.
With so much competition out there, having enough stock ready to go and a reduced delivery time could be the difference between enticing a new customer in or losing an existing one. Ok fine, not having enough product is a problem so why not just have an excess of stock? Problem solved, right?
Unfortunately not! Too much stock can cause just as many problems. It can lead to extra storage costs, a shortfall in cash flow, unnecessary business expenditures or product could even start to deteriorate leading to low quality stock and plummeting customer satisfaction.
Another New Software?!
It’s never easy taking the plunge into a new software. There are so many alternatives to look at, each slightly different to the last and all with different pricing structures and limitations. It’s not just an investment in terms of cash, but also in terms of time and many business owners have a very limited excess of either!
Having helped plenty of businesses choose inventory management software, I’m well aware of the pitfalls of choosing the wrong one and the benefits of choosing the right one.
The biggest problem with finding inventory software is the same with adding any other software to your ‘tech stack’ (geek meaning all the other software that you use, from spreadsheets, emails to accountancy and beyond) and that is, “will it work with what I’m already using?”.
That’s why I always follow two paths when I’m looking at inventory and stock management for a client:
- Itemise all of the current software being used;
- Identify the main software driver. This is basically the one program that everything needs to be compatible with. For many small businesses, it will likely be your accounting software but this isn’t always the case;
- Research which stock keeping software either connects directly or can be connected via a linking software (such as Zapier).
- List all the available software that meets your inventory management requirements;
- Review each one to identify which software each is compatible with.
Inventory Management Decisions Simplified
Imagine a world where you always have exactly the right amount of stock to meet your business needs. A world where sales trends and periods of increased demand are clearly visible to you at all times.
Sounds impossible? Well, it doesn’t have to be if you choose the right inventory system! You can have a clear vision of exactly what is happening across your business as well as being able to predict seasonal fluctuations and trend
If it all sounds a little overwhelming or the idea of researching and adding another piece of software to your business makes you want to curl up into a ball and cry – don’t worry. That’s exactly what we’re here for! At Refresh Accounting we have the experience you need implementing new inventory management software for small businesses.