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Call us for a free FastStart Consultation: (844) 680-2046


Call us for a free FastStart Consultation: (844) 680-2046


 
by Daniel Harris,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: February 24, 2017


Online inventory management software is a must-have tool for any business tasked with overseeing and tracking large amounts of physical inventory. This software provides transparency into quantities, locations and other aspects that are key for successful inventory management.

With so many options available, choosing the right online inventory management software for your business can be an overwhelming endeavor. Fear not, because we are here to help. Read on to learn more about online inventory management systems. Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is Online Inventory Management Software?
Common Functionality of Online Inventory Management Software
Benefits of Online Inventory Management Software
Key Considerations for Inventory Management Software

What Is Online Inventory Management Software?

Online inventory management systems offer the same benefits and functionalities as on-premise inventory management software—but with the added convenience of cloud-based deployment. Key capabilities of this software include:

  • Categorizing products
  • Automatic ordering
  • Sales and purchase order tracking

Online inventory management software is accessed through the internet, rather than through a program installed on your physical computers and servers. This greatly reduces your company’s hardware requirements. What’s more, the subscription-based pricing plans these systems typically offer tend to be less expensive than the traditional, desktop-based systems. This makes online inventory management software a cost-effective option for small businesses.

Common Functionality of Online Inventory Management Software

Most online inventory management systems offer a robust combination of tools and capabilities. This table lists some common functionalities of this software, all of which can have a positive impact on your business.

Real-time inventory management Allows you to see your stock levels, incoming and outgoing orders, shipping information and a whole host of other measures in real time. This enables you to improve tracking and make informed decisions using up-to-date knowledge of your inventory.
Item variations This categorization capability is an essential function of most online inventory management systems. It allows you to store key product variations and differentiations in order to quickly and conveniently organize your inventory based on specific details, such as product color.
Scanning To more easily identify and input products in the system, many solutions use barcode or radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. Scanning these tags with barcode scanners or other devices provides information on the product, as well as actions that can be taken to manage it (e.g., mark it as received, sold or shipped).
Reporting and analytics Provides access to user-friendly, data-driven dashboards articulating inventory levels, sales reports and other information you need. With this information in hand, you can make smarter decisions and optimize key components of your business, including pricing, shipping, purchasing and reordering.
Multichannel inventory synchronization You may sell your products through multiple channels, including online and retail stores. The solution should be capable of providing the exact inventory status by checking all the channels where sales are occurring. Also, inventory should be synchronized with the order management module that notifies customers immediately if any product is out of stock.
Automatic updates Most tools offer real-time inventory status updates, as inventory management is the most critical task in running a business. It allows managers to check that inventory is stocked and fulfilled from warehouses for every order. Also, in case of low inventory or out-of-stock items, an automatic update is sent to warehouse managers that informs them to take action and order new inventory.

Benefits of Online Inventory Management Software

The insights gathered from inventory management software should aid the growth of your business. Choosing software that integrates with other systems used in your organization, such as customer relationship management (CRM) and accounting software, can provide you with even more detailed, accurate insights. This can help you set realistic goals and analyze business metrics.

Some of the key benefits of online inventory management software include:

Improved inventory ordering and control. Rather than toiling over an enormous spreadsheet to monitor inventory, this software enables you to easily manage it all. The system provides detailed, real-time stock levels as well as projections of future inventory requirements.

Reduced inventory costs. With accurate inventory monitoring and ordering capabilities, you can prioritize stocking items that generate the most revenue and delay restocking underperforming items.

Accurate forecasting. Reporting and analytics capabilities enable you to spot monthly, weekly and yearly trends. These trends can inform you of future inventory projections, so you can make sure you’re properly stocked on important items.

Mobile access. Using cloud-based inventory management, you can access your backend software from any compatible device with an internet connection. That means you can place and/or confirm orders, monitor inventory levels and complete a whole host of other tasks from anywhere, as long as you are connected to the internet.

Key Considerations for Inventory Management Software

As a new buyer, you should consider these key factors before making a purchase decision. Depending on the size of your business, your budget and other factors, it is not necessary to choose a product that offers every possible feature. Rather, it is wise to select a solution based on your immediate requirements and upgrade as the business grows.

Here’s what you should look for:

Integration with existing applications. The solution should offer integration with third-party CRM and accounting software to avoid duplicating tasks for end users. It should be able to automatically sync all customer, finance and order-related data with other systems and generate a consolidated report.

User-friendly interface. The software should have an easy-to-navigate interface that enables quick adoption within the organization. Training your staff on new technology can be expensive for SMBs. Therefore, the solution should be intuitive, require minimal training and ultimately, encourage usability among the staff.

Reliability and security. Software should enable administrators to manage access and permissions for each user and record their behavior in real time. It should also be able to protect the inventory database from unauthorized access, as this information is critical for the business.

Warehouse integration. Your business might have multiple warehouses in different states to store inventory and better serve customers across the country. It’s essential that each location is integrated so users can quickly view inventory levels. The solution should also allow users to select one warehouse as their primary location and fulfill their orders from a single screen.

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