May 2015 | Commentary | IT Matters

Finding an Inventory Solution That’s Just Right for Your Small Business

Tags: Inventory Management, Supply Chain Management, Logistics

Brian Sutter is Director of Marketing, Wasp Barcode Technologies, 866-547-9277

Inventory management, put simply, is ensuring you have the right amount of product in the right place at the right time. It helps you determine which items sell well, and which do not, giving you the ability to adjust product levels accordingly.

As such a crucial step in the supply chain, the importance of good inventory management seems obvious, but for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), choosing the best inventory solution can seem daunting. How do you ensure that you're purchasing the best inventory solution for your workflow? Which inventory solution features are 100 percent required?

Know What to Look For

To help answer that question, find an inventory solution that includes these five important inventory-tracking functions:

  1. Automation. Using Excel spreadsheets for inventory management is outdated in today's environment. Excel's limitations in tracking inventory can cause your business to lose money and waste time.

    Avoid cumbersome manual processes by looking for an automated system. Employees who manually input data into a spreadsheet—or worse, who track using pen and paper—increase the potential for errors. Automating as much of your process as possible using bar codes and scanners eliminates significant inventory mistakes. An automated system also helps you find critical data quickly and efficiently.

  2. Small business accessible. Big businesses with big budgets have the money to invest in an enterprise-level solution, and the staff necessary to implement such a large-scale inventory system.

    Solutions aren't often one-size-fits-all, so consider a software provider that has experience assisting small businesses with inventory needs. Resources such as guides, a help desk, and classes, should be readily available, as well as training that covers the initial software setup, and an overview of how employees need to use it. Your business should be able to quickly use the new solution to improve profitability and purchasing efficiency.

  3. QuickBooks integration. Millions of small businesses use QuickBooks as their accounting software package. Because of that popularity, find an option that allows customers to take advantage of integrated financial solutions, ensuring that data flows directly into accounting records.
  4. Mobility. Being mobile lets you accomplish more throughout the day. Many wireless devices allow users to create, edit, move, or remove inventory items on the go, while updating inventory control software accordingly. Wireless communication enables real-time inventory data updates from your warehouse, stockroom, or supply closet, so you always know exactly what is in stock and where items are located.
  5. Security. Data breaches can expose important organizational and consumer information. Your solution should help you maintain mission-critical data by providing feature-based privileges that ensure data integrity. Feature-based security gives the software administrator the ability to create group privileges and assign the appropriate individuals to each group. Therefore, users only access the functions they need.

In today's fast-paced, omni-channel world, companies have to know where their products are at all times, and that can be stressful. But if you find a solution that covers these five areas, inventory management might not seem so intimidating.






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