Effective B&M Inventory Management Tools, Software
Whether it’s fulfilling customer demand, better managing your finances, or avoiding overstocking, inventory control is an essential part of any successful brick and mortar (B&M) business And fortunately, there’s many tools available that can help you manage this vital task.
Detailed below are some of the main options for managing your inventory.
The most basic tool is Excel. There are several methods of creating an inventory in Excel, however, setting up the initial inventory sheet can take some time, and it needs to do done accurately.
A further benefit is that your Excel inventory can often be integrated with inventory management software. However, there are some negatives to using Excel as an inventory tool. Such as:
- It requires a lot of manual work and Excel doesn’t have the sophistication that many of the other options have.
- You can’t update information in real-time.
- It’s not automated, so it requires additional admin.
- If you’re entering the figures yourself, there’s a chance of missing figures or numbers, which can lead to inaccuracies.
And there are other disadvantages to using Excel, which you can find out more about here.
However, if you are just starting out, have a limited amount of stock and are looking for a cost-effective solution, you might find it a good starting point.
Inventory Management & Accounting Software
Many businesses are choosing to use inventory management software due to the much wider overview it can give of the business.
Every stock management software will have various features, but the most fundamental elements include:
- The ability to receive alerts when stock is running low.
- Tracking data and trends so you can make informed decisions about your business.
- Stock location.
- Calculating value of current stock for insurance purposes.
Inventory management software can also play a useful role in your company’s marketing efforts by allowing you include logos etc. on invoices and other paperwork that is sent out to clients, helping to create a more professional image.
In addition, several brands of inventory management programs can be used in conjunction with accounting software like QuickBooks, and its especially effective for keeping track of large volumes of goods for business that hold a lot of stock in warehouses.
Most of the major companies who specialize in inventory management software offer free 14 day trials so you can test it out and see how it works for your business before committing to buying it.
Utilizing a POS System
Point of sale (POS) systems are multipurpose; among other things, a POS system will let you:
- Manage inventory.
- Collect payments.
- Manage many of the key tasks that are imperative to the day-to-day running of your business.
- Provide useful data and analytics, etc.
Some of the best-known brands, like Clover, also allow you to set up loyalty card and gift vouchers to encourage repeat customers. They also have tip line and daily reporting features, and these are just some of the benefits of opting for a POS system.
Another advantage is that POS systems come in various forms to meet different businesses’ needs, and depending on the model you get, you can also accept newer forms of payment like Apple Pay, which is growing increasingly popular among B&M consumers.
Mobile Inventory Keeping
For B&M businesses that need a tool to track inventory on the go, an increasingly popular choice is an iPad POS system that comes with inventory control.
An iPad inventory POS systems is an affordable choice for both new and existing businesses, and they are lightweight and easy to carry around in a fast-moving environment.
Another advantage is they don’t depend on paper receipts. Instead, receipts can be emailed to customers, letting you keep up with the paperless trend, which is becoming popular both in the UK and in the US and helping you to keep your financial records up to date.
Open Source Apps & Free Software
There are numerous types of open source apps and free inventory management software available.
For those starting out, open source software and freeware software can be good choices for smaller businesses and those just starting out that might not have the budget for a paid software. However, the features can also be limited on free software and you’ll sometimes need to upgrade to get the full benefits of it.
Which Inventory Tool Is Right for Your Business?
With so many tools to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow down which system is right for your business. When looking for an inventory tool begin by asking yourself:
- What inventory problems you need to fix the most, and how will the software or POS systems can help you to achieve this?
- What budget are you working to?
- The future plans you have for your business so you can pick a system that will still be suitable for you in the years ahead?
- Is it compatible with existing software that you use, for instance, accounting software?
- How many people is the software is licensed to?
- Is it industry specific?
- Do you want something that is multipurpose?
In addition, whether you choose software or a POS system to help with your inventory management, it needs to be user friendly and intuitive, and the company supplying it should offer ongoing support.
Effective inventory management is imperative in every B&M store, and there is a vast selection of tools that can assist with this.
Excel can be a good starting point for smaller businesses with limited stock, but it has its disadvantages, mobile iPad inventory management tools can be a smart choice for stores looking for an affordable solution that can use on the go, and free and open source apps can be useful for business owners who want the advantages of inventory tools, but don’t want to commit themselves to anything financially.
However, POS systems are also growing in popularity; they can allow B&M business owners to manage some of the challenges of modern retailing and they can help you keep up with the newest payment methods, too.