Inventory Management Software
BuyerView | 2014
At Software Advice, we speak to prospective buyers from thousands of companies each year who are looking for new solutions for inventory management, giving us unrivaled insight into buyers’ reasons for purchasing new software. We recently analyzed a sample of these interactions taken from 2013. This report outlines the trends we uncovered.
Ninety-six percent of the buyers we spoke to were evaluating an inventory management software system for the first time. Only 4 percent of buyers currently had an inventory management software system in place.
Nearly 7 percent of the buyers we spoke to said they weren’t using any method of inventory management at all.
Thirty-six percent of buyers were using accounting software to manage inventory, while 35 percent of all buyers were using Excel or another spreadsheet function.
Fourteen percent of buyers were using another software system, such as an Enterprise Resource Planning program to manage their inventory, while 11 percent of buyers were using what they termed “manual methods,” which often referred to pen and paper.
Seventy-three percent of the prospective inventory management software buyers we spoke to were interested in evaluating only a “best-of-breed” solution, meaning a single application for inventory management purposes only. Just 26 percent were interested in evaluating an integrated suite, meaning an inventory management system that also houses applications with non-inventory-management capabilities, all in one place.
Fifty percent of the buyers we spoke to were simply looking for basic inventory control. Thirty percent, however, expressed interest in software that also offers “barcoding and scanning” features. Twelve percent of buyers wanted a reporting feature to accurately forecast demand, while 5 percent wanted the ability to integrate their inventory management system with Quickbooks.
Less than 4 percent of buyers wanted “lot tracking”—which allows users to track multiple units of an inventory item with the same lot or batch number—while the same amount were interested in a “kitting” feature, which helps group together related products before they are shipped out.
Wayne Collins, President of the Austin, Texas Chapter of The Association for Operations Management (APICS) says that the majority of buyers were likely looking for basic inventory control functions because they’re already in a logistics-heavy environment involving a lot of variables. Adding additional complexity with an intricate software system is not always of interest to people in these roles.
With regards to barcoding and scanning as a popular feature, Collins says that data corresponds directly with what he’s seen in the marketplace.
“Number one, for accuracy, and number two, for speed,” he says. “The main thing that I see is people are interested in these features for speed, so they can scan an item instead of typing in a 10-digit part number.”
Sixty-three percent of the prospective buyers we spoke to were either business owners, C-suite executives or high-level business managers within the company they were representing. Conversely, only 7 percent of the buyers we spoke to were IT professionals.
The additional professions that made up the buyer sample were a diffuse collection of roles, from accountants to marketing coordinators. No other group made up a significant representation within the sample.
When asked why they were evaluating inventory management software, 35 percent of prospective buyers we spoke to said they were looking for a more modern solution for their inventory management needs. Thirty-one percent were hoping to automate and organize processes within their business.
Another 20 percent of buyers said they wanted more inventory management functionality than they were getting with their current system. Fourteen percent of all of the buyers we spoke with said their businesses were outgrowing the inventory management methods they were currently using.
Eighty percent of the buyers we spoke to were from companies with fewer than 50 employees. Companies with between 51 and 100 employees and companies with between 101 and 500 employees each made up roughly ten percent of the sample, while companies with more than 500 employees made up just 1 percent of the buyers we spoke to.
Regarding further implications of these findings, Collins says buyers may also be interested in keeping their software simple because they are working for companies that only handle one step in the larger inventory management process. Collins refers to the order fulfillment facility at a company he previously worked for.
“Because they were just doing order fulfillment, all they needed was to be able to track lot numbers, quantities and those kinds of things, so that’s all they were interested in,” he says.
A buyer like that would have no additional need for demand management, demand planning, capacity management or other additional functions, Collins adds.
With regards to barcoding and scanning, Collins adds that this is often an attractive option for buyers who are dealing with high volume levels in their warehouses or distribution centers, as it can greatly reduce time spent entering items into a system by hand and largely eliminates human error.
Finally, Collins explains, best-of-breed solutions are more popular than integrated suites for the same reasons basic inventory control is the most popular overall function. “People who are looking for that inventory management function likely only need that function,” he says.
Software Advice regularly speaks on the phone with organizations seeking new inventory management software. To create this report, we randomly selected 385 of our phone interactions from 2013 to analyze. If you’d like to further discuss this report or obtain access to any of the charts above, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.