How to Choose the Right Inventory Management Apps for Your Business

Small business owners can’t afford to be haphazard in their inventory management. Whether it is a one-location business, multi-location, brick & mortar, ecommerce only, or a combination of the two, owners need real-time access to inventory information. With profit being king, if a company doesn’t hire an inventory manager, it is up to the owner to have an understanding of stock control, how to track purchase orders, have a general understanding of order management and have access to real-time inventory data.

Having solid inventory information is the foundation for strong control over expenditures. Expenditures impact cash flow and having cash on-hand can be critical for a small business to survive. Cash flow also impacts a small business looking for financing. With the exception of salaries, the biggest expenditure for most small businesses is inventory. Without inventory control, money can be wasted.

If a small business is in the start-up phase, budgeting for an inventory management system will provide better inventory control, better inventory tracking and better supply chain control. Established businesses can also benefit from using inventory management apps or software to either improve efficiency or if they are expanding. Small business owners can also choose from generic inventory management apps that can work for any industry or they can choose an industry-specific inventory management app.

Do I Need Inventory Management Apps for My Business?

Before a small business owner begins to even look at inventory apps, they should try to narrow down their choices based upon what their needs are. First and foremost, the inventory management app an owner needs may depend upon what type of industry or inventory is being tracked.

While there are generic basic inventory management options like Quickbooks, which tech-savvy owners can tailor to their specific industry, many inventory or even point of sale programs are industry specific. For owners of businesses in the food industry, to help with the constant demand of inventory turnover, many restaurants have turned to software and applications to help stay organized.

Restaurant365 and Toast are examples of these types of applications that help owners stay organized. These types of applications can help reduce waste of food, compare your actual expenditures and revenue with projected ones. They can also let you know the value of your current inventory and which items may not be high sellers. These two systems, along with others, offer affordable plans (annual, monthly) that in the long-run will be cost-effective.

Secondly, an owner has to look at the size of not only the workforce, but in the volume of inventory that needs to be managed. Industry generic and industry specific inventory apps have single and multiple user options, but owners want to pick an app that can grow alongside the company, rather than choosing an app they may outgrow in a short amount of time.

Lastly,  most inventory management apps come with an associated cost (after a free trial for many). Business owners need to factor in the annual cost of the app they choose and consider if there may be additional costs associated with integrating the app with other software the company already has.

In industries that have a slimmer profit margin, like spas & salons, inventory tracking software and management is critical to long-term success, and the budget for inventory tracking may not be as high as in other industries. With the proliferation of online vendors, owners can’t afford to have inventory sitting on the shelf, so they need to know exactly what sells the most and set pricing at the point that will keep it moving off the shelves. Small business owners also need instant access to inventory, which is why, while there may be more comprehensive software programs available, using an inventory management app that is either IOS or Android-based, can truly give 24/7 real-time access and inventory control.

IOS Inventory Apps:

Sortly: This app lets the small owner search and update items using barcodes and QR code labels, assign permission levels for employees, lets the owner access inventory on any device and auto-syncs via cloud or can be used offline. It is also free if you are a sole proprietor and the annual plans that have multiple users start at less than $500 annually. Sortly also offers a program specifically for medical and healthcare businesses.

Inventory Now: This was designed to help resellers track products from being bought and received to being sold and delivered. It has barcode scanner support and also has the option for single or -multi users. There is a free version for smaller businesses, but there are options to pay for the multi-user or even enterprise systems.

Inventory Trackr: This app bills itself as the “easiest inventory program available” and they might be correct. There is a free trial and rates can climb to over $200 a month for the enterprise version, but for companies with less of a need for user accounts or inventory variety, that price drops to $29 per month. It has a built-in barcode scanner and has control settings for employee use.

Android Apps:

Stock and Inventory Simple: This app can be used as a stock management tool or inventory tracker. It can also serve as management for sales and purchases. It has a user-friendly data input (either manually or importing from Excel files); photos or images can be added, inventory can be sorted into folders or sub-groups, you can scan barcodes through a smartphone and notifications can be set-up for when inventory levels or stock levels reach a certain level. There are in-app purchases that can be made to access additional options, but this app is very affordable for a small business.

Mobile Inventory: This is targeted towards small and medium-sized businesses. This app offers both a free and premium version. The free version allows for stock management, barcode and QR code scanners, lets the owner create custom fields and allows for the management of more than one location. The premium version includes the addition of exporting data to an .xls file, supports external barcode scanners and adds NFC support. It also backs-up and can restore data.

Smart Inventory System: This app actually lets you manage your inventory from your computer or other mobile operating systems by using their web application. The free app would work for a business that only requires one user, but the paid premium version of the app enables the owner to add users and put the inventory into a cloud system. This application has similar features as other IOS and Android apps and it also syncs easily with Google Drive for report generation.

The task of trying to track inventory can be daunting. Trying to decipher which inventory management application to use can be just as daunting. Fortunately, if you feel comfortable using a mobile device, an iphone or android phone can be a great resource for inventory control. It can serve as an inventory scanner for both the small business owner and other employees. The mobile apps that we have listed all can assist in tracking your business inventory, making your business more efficient and hopefully more profitable.

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