At its simplest, inventory management software is a tool your company can use to track real-time inventory. You can leverage inventory software to automate a range of other takes, including tracking sales velocity and providing low stock alerts. However, excellent inventory management is one of the things that allows successful eCommerce businesses to pull ahead of the competition. Managing your inventory well keeps you from tying up too much cash in stock. It also ensures you have enough product in your eCommerce fulfillment centers to meet demand. What inventory management systems will support you in managing your online retail enterprise, making a profit, and increasing customer satisfaction?
The most exciting aspect of inventory management software is its ability to track your goods through multiple stages in your supply chain. A well-designed inventory dashboard can track outstanding purchase orders and inventory levels in your warehouses. These tools can track what’s currently in stock, sales orders, and returns. This information helps you understand if your business can support its current sales volume.
Inventory tools can also help you understand your markets. That could show you when it’s time to discount a product that isn’t selling. Your software systems can help set reorder points and even optimize pricing to move product.
Whether you use advanced inventory software or a printout of a spreadsheet, you need a solution to streamline your operations. The best inventory management software is a waste if it takes too much time or your staff can’t get it to work right. It’s critical to find what fits your needs, including time and talent constraints.
To get started, we look at seven inventory management software choices to help you understand the key features available and guide your decision-making.
7 inventory management software options
Inventory management software varies greatly. Enterprise-level systems may be incredibly intricate and can manage inventory from manufacturing to multiple warehouses and multichannel orders. Tools for small businesses might work well for a single warehouse and small order volume, and other inventory management systems work best for drop shippers. With the wide variety of inventory management tools available today, you can find any inventory management feature you need to run your business smoothly.
There isn’t enough space in this post to review all the inventory management systems on the market, so we’ve chosen a representative sample. Below you’ll find a mix of software platforms, large and small. The best inventory management software for your business might be a single management solution or a suite built from multiple tools to assemble the inventory management features you need. Start by building a shortlist and ask each vendor precisely how they will meet your needs and help your growing business. Here’s our quick overview of what’s available.
Cin7 provides a comprehensive, cloud-based business management suite with inventory management software capabilities. The platform makes automation simple and is generally targeted at growing businesses and established companies with more than $1 million in revenue. You can use it to manage in-store POS systems and online sales, multichannel and multi-location inventory, and accounting tasks. It’s a powerful platform with a broad range of tools.
Cin7 is used by many B2B and B2C brands, with options to adjust stock and inventory rules based on the types of customers you serve. The platform can support multiple inventory management control techniques, barcode scanning, FIFO rules, kitting, dropshipping, and eCommerce returns.
Think of Cin7 as a complete enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool with built-in inventory management software. The platform includes modules for forecasting, analytics, credit card payment portals, Amazon FBA support, and more.
On the other end of the spectrum are inventory management software platforms like Ordoro, designed to help small businesses get started. It’s an intelligent eCommerce-focused inventory management system that quickly creates kits, SKUs, split orders, order alerts, and more. However, the biggest fans of Ordoro are drop shippers.
Ordoro allows drop shippers to work with multiple orders and dropshipping suppliers through automated and manual entry methods. You can create portals for vendors and use its integration tools to speed up your order processing and order fulfillment. The platform supports in-house fulfillment and third-party logistics as well as dropshipping.
Customers also view Ordoro’s shipping insurance features positively. Reviews say that claims are easy to file and process, which should give you peace of mind.
3. Zoho Inventory
Zoho Inventory has a large customer base and a happy following because it makes it easy to run multiple aspects of your business, especially inventory management and order fulfillment. It features a robust CRM to help you manage customers and orders, matching them with your inventory levels. You can use Zoho on a desktop or mobile device, letting you manage inventory on the go.
One of the great things is that you can use Zoho to work across multiple warehouses and marketplaces or sales channels. It has an extensive list of integration partners to bring in more features, such as asset tracking. If you’re doing fulfillment in-house, Zoho has a series of tools to help you ship from the most affordable or fastest locations and customize rules and requirements to streamline your fulfillment and shipping.
Zoho is an excellent option if you run a hybrid business mixing traditional order fulfillment with dropshipping. You can onboard vendors and create drop shipments individually or set rules for products, while optimizing your stock on hand. It integrates with many eCommerce platforms, including Amazon, Shopify, Etsy, and eBay.
The platform often targets growing businesses. However, you still need the expertise to run your warehouses and keep orders moving. If you’re at a point where you need more than just great software, consider contacting Red Stag Fulfillment for our guaranteed order fulfillment accuracy and support.
Some companies want inventory management software designed to work with their existing order management tools. Fishbowl Inventory is our representative for that category. The workflow is intuitive, offering a mix of simple and advanced options that companies of many sizes can use. The company offers manufacturing, warehouse management, and inventory management versions of its software, but all include various inventory tools.
Fishbowl’s solution gives you access to tools for barcode creation, automatic reordering, pick and pack support, and custom product tagging. The company highlights its integration capabilities, especially with QuickBooks, for accounting support and asset tracking. Fishbowl also integrates with a number of eCommerce, vendor, and supplier tools. Xero is another top integration, linking manufacturing to warehousing and accounting for simplified supply chain management and support.
There’s real-time data available in Fishbowl, along with robust reports. The pricing is higher than many of the other inventory management systems on our list, and licensing and additional plugins can increase its cost further.
If your eCommerce company manufactures its own products, inventory management software options are available to help you with material requirements planning (MRP) and your finished-product inventory. Katana is a manufacturing ERP with robust inventory controls focused on manufacturing workflows. However, it syncs with Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and others, making it a practical option for controlling your order fulfillment inventory.
The ERP and MRP tools make it easy to track raw materials, finished products, and the data you need to match your production recipes and manufacturing schedule. The inventory management software also helps you order materials so that you don’t run out, using sales and production data.
Katana is well-reviewed across a variety of online review services. The company started in manufacturing, and users say the MRP tools are useful and intuitive, focusing on helping SMBs make quick decisions.
6. QuickBooks Online
When you’re pressed for time, inventory management software that can handle multiple tasks or offer multiple versions so that you don’t continually need to learn new things is an asset to your business. QuickBooks Online offers plans that include its inventory management tools, so you get inventory plus accounting software in a single package.
The platform focuses on scanners and manual inventory counts to track goods as they move through your supply chain. You can track inventory across multiple locations, and QuickBooks will provide reorder alerts. One benefit for small businesses is your data is linked to your overall accounting and sales tools in QuickBooks. So, you may have an easier time tracking expenses, invoices, and any additional information your accountant needs when tax time comes around.
You’ll want to check the QuickBooks site to see what packages and pricing work best for your needs. The Advanced package is full-featured, but its Plus offering includes inventory tracking and management capabilities at a much lower monthly cost. Please note that QuickBooks product names can change based on your location and service level, so double-check your needs and packages before finalizing your selection.
Many companies will start out by doing inventory tracking in Excel and another spreadsheet. A spreadsheet has the advantage of being a cheap (or free, in the case of Google Sheets), simple software tool that many users are familiar with. You can upload and download inventory data to and from your eCommerce platform using a spreadsheet (usually in CSV format). That ensures you’re only filling orders for products you have in stock. Excel can be a reliable tool when you’ve got a small operation and a good team with solid manual inventory counts.
The risk of using Excel is that rushed inventory counts or a sudden sales surge can lead to mistakes. That could put you behind in reordering and restocking appropriately, which can lead to stockouts or refunds. If you’re going to go the spreadsheet route, review your eCommerce platform thoroughly, including its plugin options, and find tools to help you verify and check your work. It could be as simple as the platform telling you what it expects you to still have in stock, which you can check with a quick physical inventory count.
Generally, as your business grows, you’ll benefit from an inventory management software platform with more robust features to help you automate and update forecasting, reorder points, setting seasonal stock levels, and more. Don’t be intimidated by the capabilities of these programs; most are intuitive to use and can help you streamline your inventory management workflows.
Specialty inventory management software options
Many tools listed above have options and configurations around general product or service categories. They may help a hotel manage supplies under a “Hospitality” setting or optimize supply chain distribution for manufacturers and wholesalers. Look for support and configuration options to support your specific product categories.
That said, if your niche is very niche, look for inventory management software designed precisely for what you do. Currently, one of the biggest inventory management specializations is in the cannabis and CBD markets. Companies with these products face significant regulations and restrictions, making it hard to operate a business. If you’re in the cannabis industry, tools like Cova can help you collect customer identification, ensure your sales are legal, and restrict shipping to allowed states and addresses.
When your industry has strict compliance requirements, your inventory management software can help you meet those criteria. Generally, every sale and customer-facing piece of software should too.
Pairing software with partners
Reach out to partners as you finalize your inventory management software selection. Look for solutions and options to integrate and combine data. This makes it easier to track and fill orders with your inventory or place a purchase order to restock as soon as you run low. Integrations help a partner like Red Stag Fulfillment work with you to keep your business safe, cut costs, and delight customers.
Integrations can feel complex, but they aren’t always a challenge. Many inventory software systems have plugins or APIs to integrate with the leading eCommerce platforms. That means your biggest hurdle may be getting started.
If you’re not sure where to begin, your 3PL can help. At Red Stag Fulfillment, we support our clients with industry-leading inventory accuracy and help with inventory planning. Feel free to reach out if you have questions about inventory management software.
Inventory Management FAQs:
Which software is used for inventory management?
There is a huge range of inventory management software on the market. Your options range from platforms to help small businesses with few SKUs and minimal stock, to ERP systems for enterprise-level companies. See our post above for several suggestions, including the most basic: an Excel spreadsheet.
Does QuickBooks manage inventory?
Yes, the Plus and Advanced packages of QuickBooks Online include inventory management capabilities. The basic QuickBooks package doesn’t include inventory features.
What does MRP stand for?
MRP stands for material requirements planning. MRP software helps product manufacturers manage their supply chains and meet demand.
What kind of inventory needs to be managed?
There are many kinds of inventory that need management. The biggest category is companies that sell or distribute physical goods to consumers or business customers. These companies need to understand how much inventory they have on hand and when they need to order more to avoid running out.
However, inventory management happens in many other settings. For example, hospitals stock medical supplies. They must manage their inventory to ensure they have life-saving medications and materials on hand to meet patient needs. Manufacturers need to manage inventories of parts and raw materials. Businesses often manage inventories of equipment and supplies their employees need to complete their jobs.
What is the difference between inventory management and inventory control?
Inventory management is the process of analyzing and understanding the flow of goods through your supply chain to optimize inventory levels and turnover. It can include demand forecasting, setting stock levels and reorder points, managing purchase orders, and developing plans for seasonal demand fluctuations.
Inventory control happens in the warehouse, ensuring that enough stock is on hand to fill orders while avoiding overstocking. Inventory control can include manual stock counts and managing SKU locations within the warehouse to optimize pick and pack operations.
What is the difference between inventory and stock?
Inventory and stock are both terms for products you have on hand to ship to customers. The items you have in stock are part of your inventory.