When you run a business you need robust systems and processes. A general misconception is that sales are the strongest pillar of an enterprise. Yes, you need sales and more sales to run your business. But, to run it smoothly, you need well-built systems that control the back end.
Say, if you sell healthcare products, you need to record and report the purchase, sale, and stock of products like medical supplies, etc. You track what is sold and also what is unsold. The remaining stock has expiry dates or specific shelf life beyond which the product cannot be sold.
You need a system to control what comes in, goes out and remains with you in the list of products that you sell.
What is An Inventory Management System?
An inventory management system is a process that tracks the product throughout the supply chain. This monitoring generates a lot of information like, when the products are falling short and needs to be stocked or which products are not sold, the demand of a certain type of product, the product’s state like whether it is raw, in-process state or in transit, etc.
These analytics can later act as powerful insights in understanding the areas to be improved for the business to progress.
The inventory management system strengthens your business with-
Improvement in the cash flow.
Reduction in the deadstock.
Reduction in overhead or surplus costs.
A better understanding of reporting and forecasting.
Importance of Inventory Management Software in your Business
Different businesses have different inventory needs. An office supplies business will handle its inventory in a way that will be different from the healthcare business.
In this blog, we will discuss the inventory management software that covers almost all sorts of businesses under its umbrella.
Top 10 Must-Have Inventory Management Software Features
When you choose inventory management software, there are features that you have to look for. Here is a checklist of the top 10 must-have features of inventory management software that boost the business.
Real-Time Inventory Management
Well, inventory management is what the software is meant for. But what is real-time inventory management?
In contrast to periodic stock updates, your software should be able to give you real information about your stock positions as and when you need them.
Not only does it help the sales reps to make the delivery commitments to the customers, but it also creates room for quick action.
Fine. It helps the back-end team but is it customer-centric too?
Of course, real-time stock positions help in –
Improved decision making
You don’t sell the same item twice. You know what is out of stock. You know which item to push ahead while selling. You also know the value of sold and unsold stock to manage your finances better.
Commit realistic delivery schedules
You don’t overcommit to your customers. You know what is in stock and what is not. Gives you a clear picture of what can be dispatched quickly and which item will take time.
When you are well-informed at every step of the way, you achieve a process that streamlines your workflow.
And, as a result, enhanced customer experience.
Tracking the inventory
Having a detailed constant track of each functionality of products in inventory makes it easier for the information to be tracked whenever needed. When you have this feature in inventory management software it can be found very helpful in areas such as in reports, audits, etc.
Tagging and Barcoding
Automation is the best discovery and a blessing to mankind. It has a significant contribution in reducing the standard errors made by humans to minimal or almost none.
Barcodes are one such innovation of automation, it has saved a considerable amount of time and has given accurate results. The use of barcodes has had a huge benefit to the organizations in terms of time, money spent on training of employees, and of course in fetching precise results eliminating human errors.
Benefits of introducing barcodes in businesses:
Easy to follow the process.
Accurate details of the products.
Saves money and time.
Reduces the tendency of errors.
Increases the efficiency of performance.
Comprehensive Reporting Tools
Reporting tools provide great insights in monitoring business activities. It provides integration of various tools in the inventory management application that carries out the reporting task in an effective manner.
It provides real-time updates of the business such as tracking of sales of products, orders received, product transit, etc.
Advantages of the reporting tools:
Increase in productivity of the business.
The drastic increase in sales.
Breaks the bridge of communication.
Reduction in human error.
An increase in sales can be overwhelming but can you imagine the exact opposite situation? Yes, you would not want to take the risk of the products being out of stock and not be informed about it. It can be a nightmare for a business. The forecasting feature keeps a close eye on the products and intimates about the availability of the product whether it is in abundance, well enough to sustain the orders placed, out of stock, etc. This gives control and a certain sense of direction to take appropriate actions at the right times.
Alerts Regarding the Inventory
From the name itself, it can be figured that this feature revolves around the alerts sent about the inventory. When a product is running low on the stock this feature comes as an alarm in the form of an alert and then accordingly necessary steps can be taken.
Inventory software with enhanced inventory alert systems also suggest some of the possibilities for the cause of the particular alerts. Alerts can be in the form of mails or SMS.
Have a look at some of its amazing benefits :
Raise in sales.
Alarms in the form of alerts (for example- via mail or banner notifications the application or website.
Inventory levels are thoroughly optimized.
Reduction in waste of stocks.
The operation control is maintained.
There is an improvement in the visibility of stock of various departments.
Inventory’s Backup and Security
The back-up and security are very essential parts of any business. The backup for the obvious reason is a safety net that needs to be guarded since it can be hacked and that is when security comes into the picture.
Backup and security go hand in hand and are a must-have feature when you look out for inventory management software for your business.
Provision of Mobile Support
These days mobile support is considered an essential feature to have in any software. What better than you have remote access to your whole business accessible at your fingertips?
This gives instant updates, faster access that drives better performance and increased productivity of the business.
Though mobile support is a great thing, it can’t be found in all inventory management software, so if this is your choice do research well and ask in advance about all the devices that the software supports and their workings.
IoT Integration and Cloud-Based Software
IoT Integration in an inventory management system optimizes and organizes the data and also gives real-time updates to the employees of the organization. Our current generation and the coming era is of cloud-based storage, due to the excellent facility it gives to store and access data from anywhere, any time, and on any device.
Handling the Returned Stocks
While you deal with an ecommerce platform, it is a very common scenario where your products are purchased by the customer and while it is delivered it is returned due to different reasons.
Now when this happens, there arises the situation of tracking this product and maintaining a proper record where every detail with the reason of returning or replacement, date of returning, place it was returned from, etc. should be noted perfectly.
It is a must to have software that has a feature that maintains the record in inventories and updates them to shipping partners via various means such as SMS, emails, etc.
The feature of software that handles the returned stocks well has many benefits some of them being:
Saves time and money.
Makes the process easier to deal with.
Maintains customer relationships.
Lowers the chance of human error that can be caused by manual entry.
In the end
There are plenty of features that are available in the inventory management system but the ten features covered are the basic features that support well and are generally suggested as standard must-haves while looking out for an inventory management system. It completely depends on your business requirements and priorities, before you finalize the features your inventory management software must contain and do very thorough research. Then when you have a blueprint of exact features you are searching for, look for options and you might have a lot of companies that offer it, wisely choose.