What to Know Before Investing in Retail Inventory Management Software
A successful retail store relies on great inventory management to avoid over or understocking inventory and increase profit margins. A retail inventory management system tracks items to determine what's in stock, how quickly it is being sold, and when certain products should be reordered. Inventory management also identifies trends such as best and worst-performing items and can reveal which products should be discontinued all together.
Automating this process with a sophisticated retail stock management tool will save time and energy, by providing detailed reports and real-time store inventory level information at the click of a button. However, as with any new technology, retail inventory management software will be an investment. Therefore, businesses should know exactly what features their operations require before shopping around.
Benefits of Automating Inventory Management
There are many benefits to automating stock management processes in the retail industry, including, but not limited to-
- Increased inventory accuracy across multiple stores and locations - When the retail inventory management software is integrated with the POS system, inventory will be updated in real-time across all locations, without requiring staff to halt operations to conduct physical counts.
- Instant reporting - Software provides a single panel display showing all available stock in all participating locations. Vital reports showing inventory levels, costs, and variance can be calculated and accessed automatically.
- Protection from staff error and theft - Retail inventory management software automates inventory tracking, reducing human error, and discouraging employee theft.
- Information on sales trends - Automated retail inventory management software shows sale trends when integrated with POS systems, providing valuable data when deciding what products to restock or discontinue.
- Access to barcode printing - This makes it even easier to manage inventory automatically and perpetually. Staff members can scan barcodes during physical inventory checks to speed up the process and increase tracking accuracy.
Questions to Ask Before Purchasing Software
Before investing in retail inventory management software, ask these questions to determine the best options for the business.
1. What are the short and long term business needs?
Determine the exact needs and goals of the business to find the right software solution. An apparel store will have different needs than a jewelry business, and a business with multiple locations in several cities will require a more robust system compared to a small business.
2. Is the software user-friendly?
If this is the first time the business is investing in inventory management software, find a program that is easy to use. The software needs to be efficient for all staff members, and should not require extensive implementation training.
3. What integrations are offered?
Some inventory management software can be easily integrated with accounting or administrative programs. This will allow the system to make adjustments to accounting information, and reduce errors in data entry.
4. Does it leave room for growth?
Invest in software that leaves room for growth so that when the business scales up, the retail inventory management software can meet the expanding needs.
5. Does it provide comprehensive historical data?
To make the best decisions to positively impact profit and determine an optimal reorder point, businesses need quick access to comprehensive historical data, which will reveal sales trends and provide the best base for future predictions.
Features All Businesses Should Prioritize
After identifying the specific needs of the retail operations, businesses can begin their search for the most appropriate software solution. The following are some main features to look for when purchasing inventory management software.
- Affordability - Find a retail inventory management software that's affordable and within the budget. Make sure the software can handle all of the demands of the business but opt-out of other functionalities that do not fit the business type and model.
- Ability to integrate with current solutions - The inventory management software should easily integrate with current tools and applications, such as shipping tools, eCommerce sites, and accounting programs. Integrating the retail inventory management software with other tools reduces data errors to make the business even more efficient. Before purchasing the software, double-check its compatibility with the current solutions being used.
- User-friendly - One of the most important features to look for in retail inventory management software is a user-friendly interface. Staff members will be accessing the software on a daily basis to track inventory and report deliveries or order errors. Inventory management software should be easy to use and require minimal training.
- Reputable provider - Read customer reviews and research how other businesses are using the functionality of the inventory software before making a commitment. Make sure the company is investing its resources into a reputable provider that will meet the unique business goals.
- Comprehensive reports - A retail inventory management software should provide comprehensive and detailed reports regarding inventory cost, variance, and movement and present inventory data in a clear and easy to access format. Accurate reporting allows management to make better business decisions based on quantitative data, while easily identifying shrinkage and discrepancies regarding stock volumes. This data leads to efficient ordering and increases profitability.
- Supports multiple locations - The software must support multiple locations and storefronts. Inventory management can be difficult when overseeing several stores across the city or around the country, and inventory management software should make this process easy and efficient. The software will track inventory orders, show arrivals at the warehouse, and send notifications about deliveries at each store. This feature takes the stress out of managing inventory across multiple locations and will leave room for future growth and scalability.
- Quality customer support - Another important feature to consider is access to quality customer support. If the software isn't syncing correctly, or if the setup process proves to be challenging, quality customer support is key to having an inventory management software that provides value to the business. Be sure the software includes 24-hour customer support or even a short training program to aid in installation and data migration.
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