Best Inventory Apps Small Businesses Can Use to Stay Organized
Are you looking for a way to keep track of inventory so you can organize your business?
Perhaps today’s challenging economic environment, with inflation increasing the cost of goods and the supply chain in complete disorder has created an urgency to stay up-to-the-minute with your inventory. Having real-time information about stock levels at your fingertips is critical right now.
The best way to track inventory is to automate the process using a modern inventory management system. This article reveals the top inventory software providers for different business types, along with critical information about each. I also explain what you need to know to get the right system for you.
Inventory software: The basics
Inventory software automatically tracks current inventory levels, reports on how many items you’ve sold, and provides low-stock notifications when it’s time to reorder inventory items. In some cases, they make order management easier by helping to issue purchase orders for low-stock items. The right app can help business owners see what’s selling and what’s not, which gives them the power to make informed business decisions. It can help identify bad-selling products that should go on sale, seasonal selling trends, and prevent sold-out products that can leave regular customers unhappy.
The best systems offer forecasting functionality that can help optimize business cash flow. It also allows retailers and others to look for opportunities and issues in this time of high inflation and supply chain uncertainty. It can also help small business owners figure out when they may need short-term financing to cover inventory purchases.
The right solution can streamline inventory management while making it more effective. Barcode scanning and other features can streamline manual inventory processes.
Basic inventory solutions that come with accounting software and point-of-sale systems can be enough for some small businesses. However, more complex companies may require third-party apps that offer additional functionality, reporting, and industry-specific capabilities.
What’s critical is that you consider your industry, which stages of the supply chain you need to track, and the information you need to be monitored, along with integrations and user interface, to find the right solution.
Here’s what you need to know to start your search for the ideal inventory system for you.
Top inventory management solutions for different reasons
Most comprehensive retail inventory solution
If your business is a complex one, Brightpearl could be the ideal solution for you. The mobile app offers extraordinary flexibility and functionality, making it possible to tackle most inventory challenges. Brightpearl does not disclose prices for its solution or publicly provide a trial period. With Brightpearl, you will likely pay extra for its more robust capabilities, but it could be a good investment in your business if your inventory management needs are complicated.
Best for e-commerce businesses
Cin7 Orderhive is a simple-to-use inventory management platform ideally suited for online retailers. The monthly price for the solution is a relatively affordable $95 per month, especially when you consider all it can do. Higher priced tiers, rising to $500 plus per month, for more extensive operations with added users. The solution offers 50 percent off the first three months or a 15-day free trial which provides time to help you determine whether Cin7 Orderhive is the right solution for you.
Designed for B2B companies
Business-to-business (B2B) operations have very different inventory needs than direct-to-consumer companies. It can be challenging to find a solution that’s right for them. InFlow Inventory can solve that conundrum. The solution is relatively affordable, starting at $69 per month and rising to $199 for added users and functionality. It can be customized, which may cost more. You can request a 14-day free trial to see if it works for your B2B business.
Perfect for more complex inventory control needs
Has your retail operation outgrown your current inventory system? Perhaps you’ve added locations or sales channels, enhanced workflows, increased product categories, or upped your online capabilities. Lightspeed Retail could provide the extra power and functionality you need. The added capabilities may not cost as much as you expect. Monthly prices start at $69 and rise to $199. You can also request a customized system, which may cost more. Lightspeed offers a 14-day free trial which can help you determine if it’s the right solution for your store.
Solid Inventory solution for restaurants
Food service businesses view inventory very differently than wholesale and retail operations. They need inventory solutions tailored to their unique needs. Restaurant365 is an excellent example of one. It’s flexible enough to meet the needs of most restaurants, although the solution could be too costly for smaller operations. Prices start at $289 per month and rise to $489 and more for the customizable software option. You must pay for Restaurant365 in full annually. Information about free trials isn’t readily available.
Ideal for uncomplicated inventory needs
It doesn’t make sense to get inventory management functionality you don’t use — or to pay for it. Square for Retail is the inventory system that can be added to the popular Square payment system, which helps businesses accept credit cards and other payment types. If your needs are relatively limited and your budget tight, Square for Retail could be ideal. Square offers a free option, along with higher-priced tiers for more users and greater functionality. If you have any doubts about Square for Retail, it comes with a 30-day free trial so you can see if it meets the needs of your business before committing.
Best for users of Quickbooks products
Many businesses today depend on Quickbooks suite of accounting, bookkeeping, tax, and other solutions for their business success. If that’s the case for you, adding Quickbooks Enterprise could make sense. The only issue is that it’s a computer-centric solution and not as effective on mobile devices. If your business is iPhone-based, this might not be the right option. The solution starts at $1,340 per year for the first year and can rise to $4,200, depending on the number of users and cloud storage requirements. Prices could increase in subsequent years. Intuit, the company behind Quickbooks, offers a generous 30-day trial period.
Great for startups and growing companies
If your small business is a new one and you expect it to grow, Zoho could be the perfect inventory management app for you. It’s a relatively robust inventory management solution that offers a free plan. The software is scalable, and monthly paid plans for the broader option with add-ons can rise to $329 per month, billed annually. You can take 14 days free to decide if Zoho Inventory is right for your business.
What to consider to identify the best inventory management software
Consider the following things to figure out which inventory software solution is right for your company:
- Number of users. How many people will need access to your inventory management software? Paying for extra users can add up quickly. Be sure to include yourself in your count, along with anyone filling or counting inventory. Don’t forget other people like your accountant, dropshipping company, and suppliers. Also, think about future business growth. Could adding employees make your inventory software too expensive? You want to avoid having to switch out your software when your business is successfully up and running.
- Scalability. Consider whether the inventory management software or app will be able to serve your business needs as it grows. The last thing you want is to have to manually reenter all your inventory — or restructure your processes and retrain your team — if you outgrow a system.
- Industry. Different industries have vastly different inventory management needs. For instance, food stores or restaurants managing perishable inventory, like meat, vegetables, and dairy products, differ from retail warehouse management of products, like clothes for a Shopify site, eBay shop, or Amazon store.
- Integrations. Check that the inventory software solutions you’re considering integrate with your accounting software, POS system, customer relationship management (CRM) system, loyalty program, sales order process, order fulfillment system, time tracking, and other solutions. Also, ensure it can communicate with supplier software, if necessary. Direct, built-in integrations are typically better than indirect integrations. There is less likelihood of disconnects and breakdowns.
- Platform type. Some inventory apps work better on Android devices, while others are more effective on iOS ones. If your business uses either platform exclusively, check to see that your app will perform well on it.
- Reporting. Different inventory software offers different inventory reporting capabilities. Check that the ones you’re considering will supply you with the inventory data and alerts you need, including flexible low-stock alerts, formatted and delivered how you prefer (for example, Excel spreadsheet or easy-to-read dashboard.) Also, ensure you can sort your reports by serial number and other common product identifiers.
- Demonstrations and free trial. Ensure that you get to see solutions in action before signing up. How software is described may not be how it performs in a real-world business situation.
- Training and onboarding. Most of the inventory systems on the list are intuitive and relatively easy to use. However, you want to make sure they offer training on how to install and use the system.
- Equipment. Make sure the system you select comes with the equipment you need to manage your inventory effectively, including a barcode scanner or a QR code scanner.
If you have any doubts about the software solutions you’re considering, keep doing your research. Maintaining control over your inventory is critical, especially in these challenging economic times. Don’t risk the success of your business with a solution that isn’t 100 percent right.