Inventory management, or inventory control, is a means of tracking the flow and maintenance of inventory within a business. A good Inventory Management system for any industry streamlines the process for controlling the flow and maintenance of inventory in order to ensure that the right amount is available at the right time and of the required quality.
Although many people associate inventory management with retail applications, numerous other industries make use of inventory management systems to streamline their operations like manufacturing, utilities, healthcare, education, government, restaurants and many others.
There are a lot of free inventory software that can help you figure out what your business requires. But even some of the best inventory management systems can have certain limitations in the free plan. For instance, Zoho Inventory has limitations on sales orders, even with its paid plans. For example, if you need to track multiple warehouses, support multiple currencies, and perform custom views in your workflows, then upgrading to its first paid tier of $79/month will suffice.
The base plan starts at $79/month with a 1,500 purchase order and three users. Additional warehouses cost $10 per month per warehouse, and additional users are priced at $3 per month. Higher tiers include batch and serial number tracking and automated workflows. Overall, it's a top choice for entrepreneurs who want inventory software for their growing business and if you're completing only a few orders per month, you likely won't find a better way to manage your inventory for free.
Use a CRM
For the longest time, businesses used to handle inventory management and customer relationship management software (CRM software) as two separate systems. While inventory management system is mostly confined to managing crucial back-end business operations like billing and shipping details, purchase history, accounting information, financial data, and supply chain management, CRM software is all about handling front-end business operations including recording the customer details, customer interactions with the company, tracking of sales, managing the sales and creating the marketing campaigns.
Integrating the Inventory Management system with a CRM solution creates a win-win situation for businesses. It streamlines various business operations and improves productivity and increases profitability because you have data-driven insights on customer preferences.
Integrate inventory management system with CRM solution-
- Gives a 360-degree customer overview to businesses
- Gives easy access to customer information
- Reduces human error in data entry
- Streamlines different business processes
For instance, Zoho Inventory, a popular small business pick for businesses with multi-channel selling needs besides providing low stock alerts, kitting, and bundling options, has an integrated CRM app, and payment gateways.
This allows you to sync data across sales channels for easier management of stock levels and inventory costs. Similarly, RightControl's free plan that allows only 10 items but includes one of the best CRM systems, is recommended for service industries that need to track only a few items.
Running a small business can be tough. You’ve got to keep tabs on your inventory levels, your suppliers, and the prices you’re paying for everything.
It’s not easy to find the time to stay on top of everything.
Out of stock is an issue that can easily be found among online retailers and small businesses. Unfortunate as it is, it can negatively impact sales and brand image. But there's a solution to every problem. And, in this case, Google Analytics or data analytics integrated with your inventory management software can work wonders. Analytics and reporting, the feature in most of the new and advanced software systems enable data-driven decisions to meet customer demand.
Google Analytics does not allow you to store information that can identify a person. CRM systems can usually track last-click data using their UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) parameters. That allows you to tell Google Analytics and your CRM which channel to attribute the traffic/conversion to.
Connecting analytics and CRM data can help in tracking the whole customer journey, thus helping you propel your business forward.
Track Inventory with a Barcode Scanner
Barcodes are not only a label to include on the products for the businesses. Large and Small Businesses gain an edge by using barcodes for their inventory and order management. The use of barcodes allows a business to keep an accurate account of the inventory.
The process is swift and has minimal chances of human errors. A barcode is always unique to a product. Hence, you cannot make any mistake in your document by scanning the product in your hand. The use of barcodes to manage inventory has a lot of advantages. It helps in-
- Tracking inventory efficiently and accurately.
- Avoid errors in sales documents and stock adjustments.
- Saving time creating documents.
- Fulfilling orders faster.
Perhaps, that is the reason why most inventory management systems now have barcode scanning and recording. For instance, Sortly, a cloud-based inventory management platform, claims one of its noteworthy features is its built-in barcode scanner mobile app. It allows a business handler to scan barcodes and QR codes even in offline mode. This allows you to scan incoming and outgoing inventory even when the phone app doesn't have a signal.
It automatically syncs with your account once you go online. Zoho also has an offline mode to its mobile app, but Sortly offers inventory for multiple locations. Then, there is RightControl. With that, you can not only use a barcode scanner to track inventory and allocate stock but also generate new barcodes and assign them to individual items. That makes it easy for eCommerce businesses to add new products to their catalog and keep tabs on each item in their inventory.
Use a Point of Sale System
The best Point Of Sale (POS) systems can help you in managing your hours more efficiently and thus can be a huge time-saver. Instead of manually recording and accounting for everything that happens at your outlet, an efficient POS system with Inventory Management can help you track important data and cut down on the number of record-keeping or bookkeeping tasks.
A well-implemented point of sale software helps you keep track of your sales and inventory in real time, manage invoices, makes credit card billing easier, order new supplies in time, and prepare tax records per week or per month basis.
When it comes to retail stores or merchant services or a restaurant business, how well you handle your finances and the inventory can have a significant impact on the future of your business. These are the things that will determine your profitability.
Odoo, an open source double-entry inventory tracking system for warehouse management, for example, includes tons of high-end functionality, including customer relationship management (CRM), point-of-sale, human resource, project management, and business management features. It even includes a customer portal where your clients can log in and view the status of their orders.
Square POS is one of the best free point of sale inventory software options. The users of the free version get analytics, inventory and customer management features, invoicing capabilities, the option to send digital receipts and offline mode. The interface is relatively easy to use. Most of these services offer interesting and useful features in their paid plans. Depending on a business need, one can make choices.
Keeping track of inventory can be a pain, especially when you're juggling other responsibilities.
It’s important to have the right tools in place to make sure your business is running smoothly.
Utilize Web Analytics
Inventory analytics are measurements that focus on current goods, property, or raw materials. Analytics monitor stock levels, even at multiple locations, and help in order fulfillment. Inventory levels often impact business processes and highlight areas that need improvement. Inventory includes raw materials, works in progress, and finished goods. Inventory managers study inventory quantity and quality to forecast future demand.
Inventory analytics data provides insights into current and future needs. Inventory analytics also helps in careful understanding of inventory to improve inventory performance. An inventory manager monitors inventory management key performance indicators (KPIs) to identify areas that are performing well or processes that require attention.
The data needed for a thorough study of inventory performance can usually be found in the Best Inventory management systems. These systems, typically integrated into inventory management software, track products in the supply chain.
Monitoring helps in avoiding over- or under-stock situations. Real-time, historical, and customer data are often available in inventory management solutions and the function and performance enhance with regular monitoring of inventory analytics.
You wouldn't try to build a house without the right tools, would you?
For some reason, though, many businesses think they can run their inventory management system without the right software. The fact, however, is that inventory management software is essential to any business with a large stock and plenty of moving parts. It's the backbone of the most powerful inventory management systems.
Whether you're a small business or a solopreneur, you need to be able to keep track of your products, tools, and assets to grow. Inventory management software is designed to make that easy. Additionally, with growing demands, there are a lot of best free inventory tools and add-ons. Some of the best free inventory management software offer key features integrated in their system, like point of sale, data analytics, etc.
Most inventory Management System is usually made with specific niches in mind. This means the best inventory software for your business depends on your unique business needs. Most inventory management software works on its own, without needing other systems or programs. It's usually easy to install and use. You can also find systems that integrate with your point of sale software (POS) or other systems so that everything is synced up in one place.
Managing inventory can be a full-time job.
You can’t afford to hire someone to do it for you, but you need to know when to order more product or when to reorder.