Growing businesses have growing pains. As you ramp up your shipping operations, it’s important to keep a firm grasp on your inventory; poor inventory control can negatively affect your customer experience—and your sales. If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed by manual inventory management, using a spreadsheet or pen and paper, or you’ve outgrown an old system or software, it’s time to consider a new solution. Using inventory management software (IMS), you can streamline multiple processes with a single software program. We’ve created this checklist to help you find the perfect software for your company.
Set a Budget
Like any business decision, choosing an IMS will have a financial impact on your company. Consider the following when making your choice:
- Research the top IMS for your industry to gauge a price range.
- Determine how much money an IMS could save your company.
- Set a limit on how much you’re willing to spend.
- Create a list of 5-10 IMS in your price range.
Pick Software Tailored to Your Needs
There are countless IMS on the market, many of which are industry-specific. An e-commerce IMS, for example, will have different features from a retail IMS. Consider the following when making your choice:
- List the problems you’re trying to solve. Possible examples include overstocking/understocking, incorrect inventory levels, disorganized reporting and using incompatible platforms.
- Schedule a call with the IMS vendors on your list and request a one-on-one demo of their software.
- Ask the vendors about features that will help you address your biggest issues. Possible issues include: monitoring current stock levels, running restocking and sales reports, allowing multiple users to access the IMS, establishing a barcode system, creating invoices and sales orders, integrating multiple platforms, etc.
Find Software That Will Grow with Your Business
When vetting your IMS options, it’s crucial to find a system that can scale. Why spend the money on an expensive software, if it won’t be able to service your needs as your business expands? Consider the following when talking to your vendors:
- Ask if the software allows you to add new store locations, product lines and new sales channels, like e-commerce.
- Ask them about the limitations of their IMS and what features they’re working to add in the future.
- Narrow your list to three IMS vendors that would suit your business for years to come.
Decide on a Level of Customizability
Some IMS have a static number of features, while others are configurable and can be fit to your company’s needs. Consider the following when making your choice:
- List the modules and features each IMS comes with. Note how configurable each IMS is and whether you can add any modules at a later time.
- Rank your three top vendors by configurability, i.e., which IMS offers the most flexibility when creating your inventory reports, invoices and more.
Many businesses use different kinds of software programs for their packaging, accounting, returns and logistics needs. Make your job easier by choosing a system that can sync with these programs and work in unison. Consider the following when making your choice:
- Ask your vendors to list which software programs and devices they can integrate with their IMS.
- List all the programs and devices you use, then cross-check which IMS can integrate with some or all of them.
- If you’re having difficulty deciding on one IMS over another, take customer service into account. Not all companies are created equally.
Finding the right IMS takes time but the pay-off, financially and operationally, can be significant. Do your due diligence when searching for the perfect system. Keep an eye on your shipping needs, today and in the future, and use our checklist to guide you through the process.