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Inventory Management System

What is Inventory Management?

Every retailer has to do inventory management, whether on paper, in spreadsheets or using online software. Sometimes this is called inventory control.

In short we can sayt that inventory sits in the middle between purchasing and selling. You want to make sure best-selling items are ordered before they sell out. You also want to track and fulfill sales orders promptly to keep customers happys.

In fact inventory management is a broad topic. Not all retailers will need every aspect of it. But if you intend to scale up your business, it’s important to choose the right inventory tools from the start.

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Start as you mean to go on

It might be tempting to use what you already have. Some retailers use spreadsheets for inventory control, because they already own the software. But it’s not a good idea to use spreadsheets for tasks they weren’t designed to handle for these reasons:

  • They can quickly become large and hard to manage.
  • It’s easy to enter the wrong data.
  • They are usually stored locally, so the data can be lost or corrupted.
  • They are hard to tie into other systems, such as accounts and point of sale (POS).
  • They don’t scale well with your business.
  • The data they contain isn’t updated in real time.
  • It can be hard to analyze your best sellers.

Choose a scalable solution

Your retail business might be small today, but you probably have big plans for growth. Part of that growth may involve new sales channels.

For example, you might start with a physical store and then expand to a website, or selling on eBay or Amazon. This is another reason why you should choose your inventory management system with care:

Centralize

Multiple systems for several sales channels make it much harder to keep track of your business. If you’re not careful, the extra overhead can eat into your profits. It’s better to have one system for all channels.

Simplify

Multiple systems for several sales channels make it much harder to keep track of your business. If you’re not careful, the extra overhead can eat into your profits. It’s better to have one system for all channels.

Share

It’s useful to be able to share data from different sales channels with your staff. Good inventory control software will let you do this with ease.

It only makes sense to expand into new sales channels if doing so will increase your profits. Adding a new layer of complexity for each new sales channel is not the way to go. So make sure your inventory management system can handle new sales channels.

Integrate your systems

The last thing any retailer wants to do is enter the same sales information into several different systems. Fortunately, you don’t have to. It’s now possible to tie many retailing systems together. Cloud computing technology lets you join together the following systems and access them from anywhere, at any time:

  • Inventory management
  • Accounting
  • E-commerce
  • Point of sale
  • Analytics

This can save you time and money. For example, when a sale goes through your e-commerce system it could be tracked by your POS, recorded in your accounts and logged in your inventory control system. Meanwhile, analytics tools will show you where the sale came from – perhaps via your social media activity.

A complete online system always has the advantage when you compare it to manual daily sales reconciliation or entering numbers into a spreadsheet. And there’s less margin for error, too. People make mistakes when typing in lots of numbers – that’s less likely to happen when you integrate all your systems.

This kind of integration was much harder before the days of cloud computing, so only large retailers could afford it. Now it’s accessible to small businesses too.

  • Social media management.

Aim for a solution that fits your needs perfectly

In an ideal world, inventory management would be automated. E-commerce and POS systems would pass information to accounts and inventory control tools. And analytics software would identify the best-selling product lines and feed that information back for reordering.

That ideal world is here. Cloud-based tools are now available to do all of this, saving you a great deal of time and effort. You still have to make the final decisions about which product lines to sell, but you can handle the rest of the process with software.

As the owner of a retail operation, it makes sense for you to spend your time running and expanding your business. So your time is wasted if you’re distracted by the day-to-day details or typing in numbers manually.

That ideal world is here. Cloud-based tools are now available to do all of this, saving you a great deal of time and effort. You still have to make the final decisions about which product lines to sell, but you can handle the rest of the process with software.

With the right inventory management system in place, you can focus on what’s important. Automated inventory control leaves you free to do what you’re best at – concentrating on building your business.

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