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For any business that deals with large numbers of physical products, whether assembling them into their final form, transporting them from one location to another or selling them in a wholesale or retail environment, effectively controlling inventory is crucial to success. But with hundreds of inventory management solutions on the market, selecting the right one can be a challenge. This buyer’s guide is designed to describe the basic functions of inventory management software, identify the different types of software available and help you navigate an otherwise complex and fragmented software selection process.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
In product-based industries it’s critical to maintain the right inventory levels. Ordering too much of a product leads to excess storage and/or overstock costs, while ordering too little (or the wrong) product can result in losing a sale, a customer or valuable production time.
Inventory management software is designed to optimize your processes for ordering, storing and tracking inventory, so these kinds of problems don’t happen. Depending on your industry, it allows you to instantly determine on-hand inventory balances, track raw materials and stocked items, sort different and similar products, record works in progress and finished products, manage lots and more.
Industries that commonly use inventory control software include retail, distribution, manufacturing and construction.
|Product categorization||Many businesses need to track inventory for dozens or hundreds of very similar products, and need an easy way to, for example, distinguish between a hundred different types of screws, or identify whether your retail store carries this pair of jeans but in a different size or color. This is an essential function of an inventory systems for almost all users.|
|Sales/purchase orders||Though the details vary by industry, your inventory control system will have a way to track each product sale or order, wholesale purchase or build, or delivery, automatically adjusting the product quantity in the inventory.|
|Electronic scanning||A common way to track inventory, electronic identification is especially popular when large volumes of product are being moved. Many inventory systems have a barcode or radio frequency identification (RFID) functionality to quickly and efficiently scan items that are received, sold, transferred, etc.|
|Automatic ordering||More advanced systems like SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft Dynamics can be set up to automatically re-order a product when it gets below a certain quantity.|
|Dynamic product information||Knowing that a certain product requires a four-week lead time to re-order could be a saving grace. NetSuite, Fishbowl, Epicor, and other systems include this kind of information and provide alerts when they see that you may run out at current rates.|
With inventory tracking software, there are a number of crucial factors to take into account in selecting your software: