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Small business inventory software – Running your Business Profitably
Operating a small business successfully is about maintaining control of your operations so that you can spend your time on things that will make you the most money and make you stand out against the competition. The right small business inventory software can help you maximize your profit potential.
The limits of business inventory software
The key purpose of inventory software is to manage your stock levels and give you the appropriate data for you to make profitable decisions for your business. These are integrated with your point of sales systems to ensure your information is up to date The right software will help but there are things that it cannot do. Below are some of the main features that a typical software package includes along with information about its purpose;
• Stock Level Management – To ensure that you have a ready supply of product on hand to sell until you need to resupply. This also includes re order amounts and minimum supply levels.
• Tracking of Product Codes and Serial Numbers – This will allow you to look up items and check for stock that you may not have on display. Often this can be done by scanning a barcode of the same item or inputting a description.
• Track Sales and Pricing information – You can see not only which of your products are selling well but also record changes in pricing and how that affects the sales.
• Store product information including codes, pictures and specifications for reference and future orders
• Manage the supply chain of your company and your customers – Maintain a central program to track your items that come from different suppliers.
• Co-ordinate multiple related items – Can easily manage multiple use items like things that come in sets or products that need to be assembled or dissembled together e.g. IKEA furniture.
• Stock Auditing and Checking Against Invoicing. – Quickly and reliably confirm supplier invoice amounts and audits of your stock.
• Automatically send orders for items when your stock is running low.
The benefit of counting all of your stock and having complete and verifiable records also means that you will save money in other places like your Insurance premiums. Should something go wrong and there is fire, flood damage or theft then you will have the details on hand to give to the underwriter and can expect your damage claim to be processed much faster.
Small Business Vs Corporate Inventory Software
The main difference between small businesses and multinationals in terms of their inventory control is simply the scale. Larger companies deal with either a larger range of products, customers or both and to do this they rely on the appropriate software in order to streamline their operations. In these cases the need for computerised inventory management is obvious but some of the benefits of doing so are even more important for small businesses.
Let us look at a common example of where many small businesses fail. Using a small retail store as an example the owner will typically be responsible for everything like sourcing the products, dealing with suppliers, managing stock and finally selling the products themselves. There is really no contingency that is established should something happen to the owner and someone need to take over for a period. The time it takes to get somebody up to speed with the business is valuable time that could have been used to make more sales.
How Much Does Small Business Inventory Software Cost?
You can expect to pay as little as $200-$300 for a basic inventory controls system. The features that this comes with are not unlike those built in to a supermarket cash register with the difference being that the number of items is all centralized. For small businesses that require something a little more sophisticated a comprehensive system can retail for $1000-$2000.
The more expensive systems in addition to all of the features that we mentioned above focus on collecting more specific data surrounding your customers. They are able to track additional information that can help your business along these include; average spend per customer, preferred payment options and visitor loyalty including buying habits for a demographic and seasonal changes to items sold to help you better prepare for holiday seasons. These higher end programs can also synchronise your data and save changes that you make remotely and even give your suppliers the ability to tell you when something they make is out of stock well before it comes time to order.
The cost of the software will also depend on how many computers that you intend to use it on. Do make sure to check if the program can be licensed to multiple units before installing so that you can back up your data and allow others who need it to have access to your inventory details.
Drawbacks of Inventory Software
All the aforementioned features are designed to get your business running at peak efficiency and also minimize the amount of time and resources that you spend counting things in your store room. But it is important to note that there is a weak link in the chain and that can be you or your staff.
Inventory software really only depends on you and your staff inputting things into it properly. This can be extremely difficult of you are running a business that deals with many small items and one that continually receives new stock. Having said this the right software is really the only way that you can stay on top of things and not pull your hair out when it comes time to do a complete audit.
How to get Cheap Small Business Inventory Software
If you are just starting out and would like to spare some of the expense of a more complicated system then you may want to consider hiring a student programmer from your local college or university to help you write some basic software. The benefit for you is that you save money and can make fully custom request as to what features you need and don’t pay for things you are never going to use. From the Students perspective the benefit is paid work experience and something that they can put on their resume.
The system should be more than enough for most small businesses to get stared though you do need to be aware that it might be more difficult for you to transition to other programs if you ever out grow the software and there may be other complications if you want to make changes down the line and your original programmer is now making more money than you.