At its simplest, inventory management software is a tool a company can use to track inventory on-hand, what it’s using in sales and orders, and what is needed to replenish that stock. However, nothing is quite that simple. So, the question is, what sets inventory management software apart from other tools you may have.
The most exciting aspects of inventory tools are their ability to track your goods in multiple stages. They’ll see what you’ve got ordered and on the way to your warehouse. Tools track what’s currently in stock, filling orders, and returning. Knowing this allows your business to understand if it can support the current sales volume. Inventory tools can also inform where you want to market or if it’s time to discount a product. That saves money by trying to move what’s been sitting on the shelves for too long.
Organization and use of inventory are critical to eCommerce success. What you want, whether it’s advanced software or a spreadsheet you print out, is a solution that you understand and use. The best, most expensive tool is a waste if it takes too much time, or your staff can’t get it to work right. Find what fits your needs, including time and talent constraints.
To get started, we’ll look at some of the different options in the space. We’ve found seven options that can help you understand differences and nuances to guide your decisions.
7 examples of inventory management software options
Inventory management software varies greatly. Some systems are incredibly intricate and can manage inventory from manufacturing to multiple warehouses and orders across dozens of channels. Other tools work great for a single warehouse and small order volume, while some aim just at drop shippers. Nearly every spot in between has a tool focused on it.
So, we’ll look at a representative sample of what’s out there. Below you’ll find a mix of tools, large and small. Some may fit your business, while others are far too simple or complex. The best thing to do is build a shortlist and then ask each vendor precisely how they meet your needs and help you grow. Here’s our quick overview of what’s available.
Cin7 provides a comprehensive business management suite that includes inventory management software capabilities. The platform makes automation simple, and it is generally targeted to growing and established companies pushing revenues beyond $1 million. You can use it to manage both in-store and online sales, related inventory for multiple channels and locations, and related accounting tasks. It’s a powerful option with a broad range of tools.
Cin7 says it is currently used by many B2B and B2C brands, with options to adjust stock and inventory rules based on customers. The platform can support multiple inventory management control techniques, barcode scanning, FIFO rules, kitting, drop shipping, and inventory returns.
For your operations, it’s best to think of Cin7 as a complete enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool with built-in inventory management software. There are modules for forecasting, analytics, payment portals, Amazon FBA support, and more.
On the other end of the spectrum are platforms like Ordoro, designed to help you get started in the space with a specific business model. It’s an intelligent eCommerce-focused inventory management software set that quickly creates kits, SKUs, order alerts, and much more. However, its biggest fans are drop shippers.
Ordoro gives drop shippers ways to work with multiple orders and product providers through automated and manual entry methods. You can create portals for vendors and use its integration tools to speed up your order processing and fulfillment operations. If you decide to bring inventory management in-house, users say the transition is simple and works even if you make this transition in stages.
Customers also view its shipping insurance features positively. Their reviews say claims are easy to file and generally work through, giving you some peace of mind.
3. Zoho Inventory
Some inventory tools already have a large customer base and a happy following. Zoho Inventory is one just like that because it makes it easy to run multiple aspects of your business, especially for inventory management and order fulfillment. It features a robust CRM to help you manage your customers and orders, matching this back with your inventory.
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 facilitate broader control. If you’re doing fulfillment yourself, it has a broad series of tools to help you ship from the most affordable or fastest locations and customize a variety of rules and requirements to protect your business.
Zoho is perhaps the top option for our list if you run a hybrid business that mixes traditional order fulfillment and drop shipping. You can onboard vendors and create drop shipments individually or set rules for products.
The platform often targets expanding 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 guaranteed order fulfillment accuracy and support.
Some companies want inventory management software designed to work with their existing tools. Fishbowl Inventory is our representative for this category in this post. The software is intuitive and offers a mix of straightforward 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 have various inventory tools.
Fishbowl’s solution gives you access to tools for barcode creation, automatic reordering, pick and pack support, and custom tagging of products. The company highlights its integration capabilities, especially with QuickBooks, to have accounting support and tracking. The same is true for different eCommerce, vendor, and supplier tools. Xero is another top integration that links manufacturing to warehousing and accounting for simplified business management and support.
There’s a lot of real-time data available with Fishbowl and some robust reports. It’s more expensive than many other items on our list, but licensing or additional plugins can increase its cost further.
Some eCommerce companies also make their own products. If that’s you, there are inventory management software options 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 control. However, its existing integrations with Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and others make 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 what 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, based on sales and production data.
Katana tends to be 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, it’s great that some software can pull multiple tasks or offer multiple versions so that you don’t continually need to learn something new. QuickBooks Online has some plans that include its inventory management software options.
The platform focuses on using scanners and manual inventory counts to track goods as they move through your operations. You can track inventory across multiple locations, and it’ll provide reorder alerts. One benefit for smaller companies is that this data is linked to your overall accounting and sales tools from QuickBooks. So, you may have a more manageable time tracking expenses and invoices, plus any additional information your accountant needs when tax time comes around.
You’ll want to dig around a lot on the QuickBooks site to see what works best for your needs. While it heavily promotes the Commerce package, its Plus offering also includes inventory tracking and management capabilities, often at a 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 their inventory tracking with Excel and other spreadsheets. They make do when you’re starting out and don’t have the money to spare. Generally, you can upload those to your eCommerce platform. 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 that counts correctly.
The risk here is that a rushed inventory counting or a sudden sales surge can lead to mistakes or delayed counts. That’ll put you behind in 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. You want to find any tools that’ll help you verify and check your work. Sometimes that’s 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.
Specialty inventory management software options
Many of the 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 around your specific product categories.
That said, sometimes your niche might be very niche. When that’s the case, look for inventory management software designed precisely for what you do. Right now, one of the biggest concerns is in the cannabis and CBD markets. Companies with these products face significant regulations and restrictions, making it hard to operate a business. Tools like Cova can help such companies collect customer identification, ensure sales are legal, and restrict shipping to allowed states and addresses.
When your industry has strict compliance requirements, the inventory management software you run should play a role in meeting 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 link up with suppliers to restock as soon as you run low. Integrations help a partner like Red Stag Fulfilment 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 eCommerce tools support leading integration options and APIs. That means your biggest hurdle may be getting started. We’ve created a free eBook about eCommerce integrations to help you understand the landscape and set a path forward. It’ll answer most of your initial questions and give you a way to contact us for any more detailed concerns. Good luck and happy selling.