9 Top Inventory Management Software Solutions for Small Businesses
Inventory management is a critical part of your small business operations.
Whether you run an online store or a restaurant, the ability to monitor and control the supply, storage, and distribution of stock is essential to reducing cost and satisfying customer demand. The question now is: What’s the most efficient way to manage inventory?
While many small business owners think they’ll do just fine with a paper spreadsheet system, it’s not a viable long-term solution for inventory management. Even if you manage to update inventory accurately, it’s still nowhere near real time and not an efficient way to track stock levels. Plus, once you expand into multiple channels or sell anything wholesale, a paper system will quickly get complex and unwieldy.
Fortunately, inventory management software exists to help businesses gather stock information faster and streamline product allocation across various channels.
With this software, you can track the items going out, deliveries coming in, orders making their way back, and more – almost instantly. As a result, you can prevent issues like stockouts and excess inventory, improving your sales and customer satisfaction levels.
There’s no shortage of inventory management tools out there, so it can be difficult to identify the best one for your business. Plus, your company may have unique inventory management needs, which means you can’t just pick the first software you come across.
To make things easier on your part, we’ve compiled a list of the best inventory management solutions for different types of businesses. Before we get to it, though, it’s worth defining what inventory management software is and the benefits it’ll bring for your business.
- What Is Inventory Management Software?
- Types of Inventory Management Software
- Benefits of Inventory Management Software
- What Is the Best Inventory Management Software?
- Start Managing Your Inventory Better
What Is Inventory Management Software?
An inventory management system or software is a tool that allows you to track and manage products along the various stages of your supply chain. It gathers useful data on items – whether raw materials or finished goods – as they move from suppliers to warehouses, between warehouses, and finally, to end consumers or other businesses.
The most popular inventory management software solutions do more: They automate key elements like purchase order tracking and reorder point planning for you. Additionally, they allow you to search for items using barcodes, RFID tags, and other IDs without having to remember lengthy, complex identifiers.
What’s more, modern inventory management solutions can record inventory changes across multiple locations, including online stores, brick-and-mortar outlets, and pop-up shops. With this information, you can adjust stock quantities and values on the fly. Got a POS system at your business outlet? The software will pair up with that, too.
Types of Inventory Management Software
When looking for inventory management solutions, you’ll come across various options ranging from free to expensive software.
The expensive ones are mostly deployed on-premise, which means the vendor will come to your office to install the software on your computers. Depending on how many systems you have, this can get expensive quickly.
If you’re looking for something flexible and low cost, you can go for a cloud-based inventory management software. This is less costly as cloud inventory management doesn’t require you to purchase and maintain expensive hardware. All of your stock information is stored in a secure online software that you can access from anywhere, anytime.
Benefits of Inventory Management Software
1. Eliminate Errors
The automated nature of inventory management software means that human errors are removed. With real-time visibility, everyone from the manufacturer to the shipping vendor to the retailer instantly gets accurate information, with no risk of duplication or misentered values.
2. Keep Inventory Healthy
Underestimating product demand is where businesses lose the most money. Research from Harvard Business School found that 21 to 43 percent of consumers facing a stockout will go to another store to buy their desired product. Fortunately, inventory management software allows you to track low inventory levels and set up reorder points based on key inputs such as demand forecast, lead time, and safety stock.
3. Gain a Competitive Edge
According to a report, 43 percent of small businesses do not track their inventory or do so manually. This means using inventory management software can give you a competitive edge. The software will help streamline your inventory levels to match customer demand while preventing excess stock and other issues.
What Is the Best Inventory Management Software?
There’s more to successful inventory management than just keeping track of what’s in your warehouse or storeroom. An effective inventory management system ensures that you have the supply you need to meet demand while showing you which products generate the most demand. Here are some options that will help small businesses to thrive this year.
Probably one of the best-known tools for online inventory management, Zoho has supported businesses of all sizes since 2015. Offering extensive control over your inventory, Zoho allows users to automatically reorder products from suppliers and set specific triggers to help with re-stocking.
With Zoho, you can unlock everything from in-app barcode management features to warehouse management, invoice or purchase order creation, and even extensive reporting. This online inventory management system also comes with an extensive selection of integrations.
- Simple and intuitive back-end environment
- Feature-rich solutions for vendor, customer, and order management
- A wide variety of integrations with existing tools
- End-to-end order tracking and fulfillment insights
- Mobile app for easy business management
- Limitations on shipping label options
- Limited reporting features
Pricing: Zoho has a free plan for small businesses offering 25 online and offline orders per month.
Best for: Small companies interested in rapid growth and scaling
Square might be better known for its POS features and payment processing than cloud-based inventory management systems, but it has a lot to offer. This inventory management software is totally free to use, with access to a speedy back-end environment that helps you sort orders quickly.
You can download reports on your inventory, update quantities in bulk, and receive regular stock alert emails to let you know how many products you have to sell.
- Exceptionally clean and simple back-end interface
- Manage inventory in bulk (from anywhere with an internet connection)
- Speedy performance
- Easy to set up and use with thousands of items
- Has a gentle learning curve
Pricing: Square offers free inventory management tools for small businesses.
Best for: Retailers that have both an online and brick-and-mortar shop
QuickBooks makes it easy to see what items are selling and what to reorder. With this software, you can organize your items by categories and images, and auto-calculate their cost using FIFO (first-in, first-out).
QuickBooks instantly shows you how much of a specific product you have available and allows you to track stock value in real time. You can set up low stock alerts and sync to your online sales platforms, such as Shopify. Better yet, you can integrate your inventory management tools with your accounting system too.
- Integrates with leading online sales platforms
- Real-time tracking and low stock alerts
- Brilliant savings on yearly subscriptions
- May take a while for beginners to get used to
- No free version available
Pricing: QuickBooks Online costs around $15 per month for the first package and ranges up to $31 per month.
Best for: Small business owners who want to manage their stock on the go
Among the most popular choices for a free inventory management system, Odoo offers its solution as a standalone app. This app comes packed with features to help with inventory processing, including real-time and historical tracking, reports, and low stock alerts.
You can automate elements of your warehouse and inventory management by setting triggers to order new stock when your levels reach a certain limit. There’s also no limit on the number of locations, users, and items you can track.
- Suitable for digital and consumable products
- Supports multiple sites, users, and product types
- Custom alerts on suppliers or products
- Order forecasting and reporting features
- Installation is a little tricky for some
Pricing: The standalone inventory management app from Odoo is free to use.
Best for: New businesses with a limited IT budget
A brilliant cloud inventory management tool, Lightspeed is simple to use and easy to implement. This product is often popular with restaurants and apparel companies in search of growth. The POS system comes with a range of inventory management features to explore, including batch tracking and cataloging features.
You can segment your inventory by size, material, and color, bundle inventory to sell it as a package, or move inventory faster by setting up seasonable promotions. The tool also provides the data you need to make smarter decisions, including negative inventory alerts, reorder point notifications, and more. Plus, you can use Lightspeed to dig into your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly sales reports and manage your stock accordingly.
- Lots of inventory customization options
- Easy-to-use backend
- Automatic syncing for multiple locations
- Not suitable for growing companies
- Lacks warehouse management features
Pricing: Lightspeed’s plans start at $69 per month.
Best for: Restaurants and other fast-moving businesses
Ordoro is a fantastic inventory management software for multi-channel ecommerce. You can create a range of “master products” in your inventory system that makes it easier to organize large groups of items with multiple variations.
Ordoro comes with vendor management features, as well as tons of customization options to help you choose when you want to receive alerts about stock levels. You can batch-print labels, assign barcodes, and even automate tracking and syncing for different online channels.
- Support for shipping, inventory, and vendors
- Accounting and analytics systems available
- Various automation options
- A lot of features to get used to
Pricing: Pricing starts at $59 per month with barcode scanning, automation, heavily discounted shipping rates, and more.
Best for: Businesses involved in multi-channel online retailing
Cin7 is one of the best inventory management tools around. You can use it to centralize your sales channels, inventory locations, orders, items, and workflows into one robust solution. The tool also includes handy features like barcode inventory, return inventory management, mobile stocktaking, and cost reporting to save you time and money.
Cin7 also comes with built-in warehouse and POS features that enable you to organize all your stock locations and sales channels from a single platform. You can also connect your tool with accounting software, marketing and shipping tools, and even 3PL warehouses to create a dynamic inventory management system that allows you to stay on top of everything.
- Excellent customer service
- Clean and easy-to-use backend
- Multi-channel, wholesale, and ecommerce options
- A little pricier than some alternatives
- Updates can be a little buggy at times
Pricing: Cin7’s pricing starts at $295 per month.
Best for: Businesses that want to keep a lean amount of inventory
InFlow is a comprehensive inventory tool for all kinds of businesses. It generates comprehensive reports that show you which of your items are driving the most profit and apply barcodes to products. With various integrations and APIs available, you can connect your sales, accounting, and other essential software too.
inFlow inventory has a smartphone app, so you can track sales on the move, and warehousing features for bigger sales opportunities.
- Full range of features for inventory and manufacturer management
- Mobile app for management on the move
- Integrations and APIs with leading tools
- Has a lot of moving parts
Pricing: inFlow offers a free edition of its software for on-premise use.
Best for: Small businesses that can do without online inventory tracking
Sortly is a super simple inventory management system for businesses of all sizes, but it’s particularly appealing for smaller companies. The free plan lets you manage up to 100 transaction entries each month, and there is a tagging and cataloging function that makes it easy to manage your items.
Sortly comes with an app for inventory management on the move and automatic tracking to stay on top of your stock levels. You can also create a range of reports for better sales decisions.
- Excellent order tracking and reporting
- Controlled access for multiple users at different permission levels
- Simple backend with mobile access
- Limited scalability on the free plan
Pricing: Sortly offers a free plan for up to 100 transaction entries per month.
Best for: Fast-growing companies that never want to lose sight of their inventory
Start Managing Your Inventory Better
Not all superheroes wear capes and even fewer know how to manage small business inventory in such a way that it neither falls short nor exceeds the required limit.
But with these inventory management software, maintaining just the right amount of stock for sales, deliveries, and order fulfillment is just another day at the office.
Having the right products on the right channels at the right time can grant you strengthened customer loyalty, efficient backorder operations, and greater business success.
How do you manage inventory in your business? Do you have a favorite inventory management software that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.