Excel spreadsheets or non-integrated inventory systems are a thing of the past. Today software provides strong reporting, stock management and cost controls which can be a game changer for small businesses running products, components/items for manufacturing and direct sales to end users.
Knowing how much stock you have on hand can enable business to support better cashflow, enhance greater profitability within the business and take away guess work usually done by ‘assumptions’ of what’s selling and what’s not. A classic example of this is a business owner who sold the last 3 items in a product range so went ahead and re-ordered another 45 units; as it turned out they hadn’t sold any of those items for over four years and spent $12,500 on slow moving stock he was stuck with, all due to not having sufficient sales history on this particular item; a costly and expensive mistake when you are not able to forecast future sales opportunities.
Analysis of numbers and items across seasons, product lines, manufacturing components and sales channels are guaranteed to support business owners in making informed decisions on inventory. Whether it be to re-stock top selling items, move old/expired units or slow-moving stock, transparency is critical to reporting the facts. Some software even automates a minimum count notification which then adds the item to a draft purchase order to restock more!
Stocktakes can be a challenge at the best of times, with the right software which allows you to count stock based on bin/bay location and bulk update/upload directly, it can save hours in time, additional costs and wages. Completing regular stocktake ensures your inventory is up to date, lost or miss-picked items are minimised, and stock write-offs are heavily reduced, thus supporting better cashflow in the business.
With many apps providing support to a robust picking and packing system which uses multiple locations and barcode/QR scanning, the chance of a miss-pick or a costly return of product can be reduced or removed with some offering a double-check system prior to dispatch. In addition, many freight companies now integrate their own software into these apps to make consigning product simple and seamless at the click of a button.
Knowing your customers is an important element to growing sales, many inventory systems include CRM systems and detailed reporting on their top purchased products, frequency of sales and other key elements critical to growing and maintaining excellent customer relationships. Many software applications will have apps available so you can also take payments and receive new orders on the go, a great benefit for further increasing cashflow and converting sales on the road.
- Compile a “must have” and “nice to have” list of what you need the software to do. Use this to consider the options available to you and help shorten the list, remember that most software will meet between 85-95% of your requirements and in some instances, you may need to find a work-around or alternative solution to meet every wish. We also recommend you ask your team as what is important to them, they may suggest something you hadn’t considered. It also supports ‘buy-in’ from your team which will ensure a more favourable outcome when launching a change to their workflow.
- When thinking about your workflow process, consider what it might look like in the new software; This is particularly useful for measuring time to complete tasks and how much savings the software comparisons could bring the business.
- Make a list of existing software and compare how many they can connect to, automate tasks and what benefit that could bring to the business. Aim to reduce or minimise as much double handling of work as possible.
- Budget and estimate how much you can afford for the monthly subscriptions, implementation costs and any additional costs associated with implementing the software. Whilst training and upskilling may be slower at the beginning, many benefits of a great software decision should be that you start seeing the cost savings pretty quickly.
- Consider when the best time to install, train and migrate to the new software is for your business. You want to avoid a busy time of year or when key staff are away on leave.
- Seek feedback – online forums, Facebook groups, testimonials etc are a great source of information, after all their experience may be a critical element in your decision making process.
- Book-in demos of the top 2-3 software picks and prepare a list of questions for them to show you how particular things work, watch for ease of use and take into consideration how other staff will also work within the software and/or how much training may be required.
- Download free trials and have a play. Trials can last anywhere between 10 – 14 days before expiring so worthwhile showing the staff as well and gather their opinions too.
When in doubt, ask an expert! You are spoilt for choice when trying to find the right package out there to meet your needs. We recommend research, partnering with an experienced app advisory business and rely on their expertise to get it right the first time.