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Written by the Open Sky Staff

Managing a small business means wearing many hats, from accounting to customer service to the daily operating of your business, including ordering the right supplies and managing your inventory.

And to automate that inventory tracking, small business owners need to identify the right inventory management software that provides the best value for the lowest price. So we've put together a buyer's guide for inventory management software solutions to help you find the right small business inventory management software.

What is Small Business Inventory Management Software?

Inventory management ensures you have the right products, equipment and supplies in the right quantity to satisfy your customers and keep your business running smoothly. Inventory management software for small business helps to efficiently maximize sales, improve employee productivity, and reduce costs associated with lost or wasted resources.

And with the latest online inventory management systems you can access and track your inventory in real-time 24/7 to better monitor inventory levels, item locations, breakage, spoilage, and theft. Lastly, with real-time inventory tracking, you can quickly compile inventory cost reports and inventory sales reports.

Common Uses of Small Business Inventory Management Software

Good small business inventory management is centered around better supply management and creating a healthy bottom line. There are several common uses of inventory management software.

  • Improve Cash Flow

    Having the right amount of goods, equipment and supplies on hand means that your money isn't tied up with inventory that's sitting idle. For businesses with perishable goods, or items that may become obsolete, buying the right amount prevents you from wasting money. Only purchasing what you need when you need it improves your business's cash flow and the bottom line.

  • Forecast Demand Accurately

    Fine-tuning your forecasting through quantifiable assessment of your past sales and usage history allows you to create accurate projections of your business's future performance. Not only does a more accurate inventory report show what products your customers prefer, but it can also help you spot buying trends and peak sales times, so you can better schedule your employees to respond to business demands.

    Accurate forecasting can also put you in a better position to apply for small business loans, whether you're planning to replace equipment or purchase new items or open another location. Lenders prefer forecast reports that are backed up by real-time numbers, and with great inventory management software, you'll be able to do so.

  • Track Inventory in Real-Time

    Accurate inventory means more precise ordering – your software system can give you alerts when a stock falls below par or when you're in danger of running out of items. This, in turn, helps you prevent product and production shortages that affect your ability to fulfill orders. Managing what you have on your shelves also prevents you from tying up too much money on excess stock or raw materials that can spoil.

    For businesses with perishable inventory, the inventory management system also allows you to more readily use the first-in, first-out method of rotating supplies. You can add the new items to the back of the warehouse, cooler, or pantry so that the older ones are at the front, and the first to be used.

Benefits of Small Business Inventory Management Software

There are five key benefits to using inventory management software for small businesses.

  • Boost Accuracy

    Using computerized inventory systems reduces the chances of human error from manually entering it into a spreadsheet or worse (on paper). When you move to an automated inventory tracking system, the chances of human error are virtually eliminated.

    Accurate inventory means that you're wasting less money ordering items you don't need, and your staff will have the equipment and supplies they need in a timely fashion. You'll also get a clearer picture of what your customers love, what things work, and what things done - allowing you to better steer your operations.

  • Cut Costs

    Increased accuracy has benefits beyond eliminating waste from over-purchasing. When your inventory is correct, then you don't waste money and man-hours waiting on equipment, looking for supplies, or worse - fixing mistakes. These efficiencies help you reduce the money you spend on payroll, taxes, and benefits.

  • Improved Data Visibility and Planning

    Automated inventory management systems create a central database for operations that helps a business owner analyze what's happening in their business. For example, you can monitor your customer needs, see who is purchasing what and how much - and create a more targeted approach to your marketing. Plus you'll gain insights into how your staff leverages equipment and supplies you are tracking.

  • Preventing Shortages and Overstocks

    Balanced inventory levels mean that you don't run out of products, equipment and supplies. Whether it's an item that prevents you from delivering product, or chronic shortages and broken equipment that frustrates your staff - these lead to unhappy customers. With high quality small business inventory software you can set up reorder alerts and quickly reorder things when you need them.

  • Improve Your Customer Service

    When customers can't get the products and services they want, they'll go somewhere else – and may not come back! If you're consistently running out of products, equipment or supplies - your customers will notice, and with the prevalence of online review sites, will tell more than just a couple of their friends. However, when you're able to quickly get people what they need when they need it, they'll likely return, and leave a glowing review.

  • Automating Manual Tasks

    Modern inventory tracking systems eliminate labor-intensive manual processes, including paper and spreadsheet-based management techniques. Freeing up human resources and automating tasks allows you and your employees to spend more time giving personalized customer service and actively growing your business.

Key Considerations for Small Business Inventory Management Software

First, your small business inventory control system better be simple otherwise you won't use it. And second, make sure it integrates into your existing processes to complete your tasks faster to save time and money.

What Is the Best Small Business Inventory Management Software?

  • inFlow Inventory is designed for item-based businesses to track merchandise, generate invoices, and manage orders, with a B2B portal allowing automatic reorders from vendors. It can be used by companies of all sizes, which gives small businesses room for growth. It starts around $90 per month.

  • Zoho is good for businesses that operate over multiple channels, especially online businesses that work through third-party sellers. It features multiple shipping integrations that allow business owners to sell across multiple platforms simultaneously. Plus, it allows customers to track their order from placement through fulfillment and shipping. You can start with a free version and work your way to several hundred dollars per month depending on your needs.

  • Lightspeed is a point-of-sale system that includes automated inventory management, with advanced features to help business owners compile inventory and cost reports. The software also includes a customer management system (CMS), allowing you to build customer profiles with purchase history, buying patterns, and demographic information for targeted marketing initiatives. Costs start around $70 per month.

  • Skyware Inventory offers a highly flexible, user-friendly, inventory control system, allowing users to sort items by multiple custom fields and locations. It features reorder alerts, excel imports/exports and great reporting for LIFO, FIFO or AVERAGE costing. Skyware Inventory is scalable with a free version for smaller businesses so even the smallest company can enjoy the benefits of automated inventory management.

Leading Small Business Inventory Management Software: Skyware Inventory

Finding the right inventory management software for your small business can help you more accurately fulfill client orders, maintain your equipment and supplies, and ensure you are tracking expenses correctly. With the right software, you can manage your business on the go and automate many of the routine tasks of your business.

With Skyware Inventory's diverse features, plus unparalleled customer service, you'll be able to find the right software for your needs. Visit Skyware's Small Business Inventory Management Software webpage today to learn more.