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If you’re a product-based business, whether selling shoes in a brick-and-mortar store or using an ecommerce platform to sell dog collars online, you know that managing your inventory is key to your operation’s success. By effectively tracking your inventory—knowing when items are low, creating sales and purchase orders, and coordinating with shipping, accounting, and other tools, you can better serve your customers, as well as save yourself time, money, and hassle.
This being said, if you’re looking for a way to streamline your inventory management without using spreadsheets or pen and paper, you may be considering an inventory management software. Although certain business tools, like ecommerce software, POS systems, and accounting solutions may include inventory capabilities as part of their service, there are also software systems designed first and foremost for managing inventory.
To help you find the solution that’s right for your business, we’ve created this guide: the best inventory management software options for small businesses. We’ll discuss different inventory management software platforms in terms of both features and pricing, as well as break down what to look for as you search for a solution to fulfill your business’s needs.
Before we explore the best inventory management software options, let’s start with the basics: What is inventory management software? In simplest terms, inventory management software is a software application that helps you manage inventory. Like an inventory management app, this kind of software can include features such as:
Although the inventory management may seem simple on the surface, in reality, the process includes numerous moving pieces and complexities. Inventory management software, therefore, serves to make this process easier.
This being said, unlike a simple inventory mobile app, inventory management software is typically desktop-based, whether locally hosted on a single system or available via web wherever you have internet access.
As we mentioned earlier, many ecommerce platforms, accounting software, and POS systems include tools for inventory management—inventory management software, on the other hand, is designed specifically for the sole function of managing inventory and the related aspects of the order fulfillment process. Therefore, inventory management software is often utilized by larger and quickly growing businesses, especially those within the retail, manufacturing, wholesale, and similar industries.
Nevertheless, inventory management software can be utilized by a variety of product-based businesses in order to automate and optimize their operations.
Now that we have an overall sense of what inventory management software is and the value it can offer your business, let’s discuss what you should look for as you search for the best inventory management software solution for your business. Just as is the case with any business-related platform, the best inventory management software for you is going to be the one that can meet your unique needs, in terms of both functionality and budget. That said, here are some qualifications to keep in mind as you explore different inventory management software options.
One point you’ll want to consider as you search for the best inventory management software for your business is the accessibility of any one solution. As we mentioned earlier, inventory management software can be locally hosted (available on a single desktop), or it can be web-based (granting you access to the platform wherever you have internet).
If you’re managing multiple businesses, or multiple warehouses, then, a web-based software may be preferable, as it will give you a greater ability to coordinate your inventory processes regardless of location. Similarly, you might want to take note of which inventory management software options have corresponding business apps for smartphones or tablets, allowing you to truly utilize your software wherever you are.
Additionally, you’ll also want to consider how any solution accommodates multiple users. Some inventory management software platforms may allow you to add an unlimited number of users, whereas others may have limitations or require you to pay a fee to grant additional users access.
Without a doubt, one of the most important pieces in your search for the best inventory management software for your business will be the feature-set—after all, you want a platform that can do everything you need it to do. As we mentioned earlier, the features included in any one inventory management software can vary.
Therefore, you’ll want to know exactly what kind of capabilities you need as you start your search. Do you want functionality that is specific to your industry? Do you need to manage multiple warehouses? How many products will your inventory management software need to accommodate? Do you need tools for dropshipping, kitting, or backorders? By asking yourself these detailed types of questions, you’ll be able to compare your requirements to the functionality any one system can offer.
Moreover, in addition to the features built into any inventory management software platform, you’ll want to determine how flexible and customizable these capabilities are. You’ll want to be able to customize workflows within the platform to function with your established business processes, so that you don’t have to radically change the way you operate in order to fit the system you choose.
As we’ve mentioned, inventory tools are often included with products like business accounting software, POS systems, and ecommerce platforms, as managing inventory directly connects to all of these facets of your operations. Therefore, when you’re looking for an inventory management software, you’ll want to determine what kind of integration options it offers.
You’ll want the inventory management software you choose to be able to connect to other business tools, whether that’s Shopify, QuickBooks, or Square POS. Some inventory management software systems will be able to integrate with a wider variety of third-party tools than others, so at the very least, you’ll want to ensure that your inventory management software will be able to work in conjunction with any of the important platforms you already use.
The cost of any business tool, including inventory management software, is always important to consider. When it comes to inventory management software, pricing can vary, depending on the breadth of the software and its capabilities. However, since inventory management includes handling some of the most complex business processes—and typically works with larger and rapidly growing businesses—you’ll more than likely find that these solutions are going to be in a higher price range (upwards of $100 per month) compared to other business software.
So, before you get into the weeds of searching for inventory management software, you’ll not only want to ensure that your business needs and can largely benefit from this kind of tool, but also what your budget is, and how flexible you can be with any specific number.
A final aspect of inventory management software you’ll want to take note of is a platform’s usability. As complex as inventory management can be, you don’t want to struggle to use the tool you purchased to help you with this process. Just like any business software, therefore, you’ll want your inventory management software to be user-friendly and intuitive, with an interface that you can easily navigate and utilize.
Along these lines, you might also consider if the inventory management software provider offers customer support resources, from self-service guides on their website to one-on-one support via phone, email, or chat. If you have any questions about how to setup and use your system, it’s important to know that you can find answers.
With all of this in mind, let’s explore some of the best inventory management software options on the market and discuss what each of these platforms can offer your business.
TradeGecko is a cloud-based inventory management system with a robust feature-set designed to accommodate ecommerce businesses, distributors, and wholesale sellers alike. TradeGecko offers five standard plans, as well as two additional offerings for high-growth businesses.
TradeGecko includes an impressive list of inventory management features, the specifics of which, will ultimately depend on which of their plans you choose. On the whole, though, TradeGecko offers capabilities such as:
In addition to this vast list of capabilities, TradeGecko also includes a mobile sales app with all of their plans, as well as 24/7 email technical support and the ability to connect with a variety of third-party platforms. Moreover, TradeGecko offers their own payment, intelligence, and ecommerce products that you can buy and use in conjunction with their inventory management software.
As we mentioned, TradeGecko offers five core plans, each ranging in price and built-in functionality. All of the TradeGecko plans are priced on a monthly basis, but if you opt for annual billing over monthly billing, you can save up to 20% off the monthly cost, and in some cases, you’ll also receive additional monthly sales orders. Let’s look at the details.
TradeGecko also allows you to sign up for a 14-day free trial of their inventory management software, no credit card required.
With a significant feature-set and variety of plan options, TradeGecko is a great inventory management software option for a wide range of businesses. As a cloud-based solution with a mobile app and numerous integration possibilities, TradeGecko provides flexibility, accessibility, and the ability to customize their platform to your specific business. This being said, if you’re looking for an inventory management software that can propel your business forward and allow you to manage multiple processes in one place, there’s no doubt that TradeGecko will serve you well.
If you’re a smaller business with a tight budget, you might consider the next option on our list of best inventory management software solutions: Zoho Inventory. From Zoho, the same company that produces the Zoho Books accounting software, this inventory management platform can accommodate a growing business, but at a lower price point.
Like TradeGecko, Zoho Inventory is a cloud-based system that provides tools to automate your inventory, order, shipping, and fulfillment processes. Zoho offers their inventory management software in four unique plan options, each with increasing capabilities. Zoho Inventory can integrate with various marketplaces, ecommerce platforms, shipping providers, and payment services, in addition to the full suite of Zoho products. Moreover, Zoho Inventory includes a mobile app, available for both Android and iOS so you can manage inventory and receive real-time updates while on the go.
As we mentioned, the specifics of the Zoho inventory management software will depend on the plan you choose, varying mostly on the number of orders, shipping labels, and tracking capabilities you have. On the whole, however, Zoho Inventory provides features such as:
With Zoho Inventory, you can choose from their four inventory management software plans, which are available on a monthly or an annual subscription basis. Like TradeGecko, Zoho offers a discount if you opt for an annual plan instead of paying month-by-month. Let’s break these plans down:
In addition to these four plans, Zoho also gives you the option to add orders and shipping labels by paying $5 for 50 additional orders and 50 additional shipping labels. Moreover, you can add warehouses by paying $90 for each additional warehouse per year or $9 per each additional warehouse per month.
From all of this information, you can see that Zoho Inventory has substantial features to offer within their inventory management software, as well as four different plans to serve a variety of small businesses. Although Zoho Inventory may not have quite the extent of capabilities as TradeGecko, there’s no doubt that with more affordable plan options, Zoho can better serve smaller businesses, especially those with a strict budget. Plus, with a free, albeit limited, option, you can test and continue to use the Zoho inventory management software (past the 14-day free trial), without having to invest in a costly monthly or annual subscription.
Shipping is an integral part of the sales process and as such, is often tied directly to inventory management. The next solution on our list—Ordoro—is one of the best inventory management software options with an emphasis on shipping capabilities, in addition to inventory tools. Ordoro, like TradeGecko and Zoho Inventory, is a web-based software and provides functionality to help you automate your sales processes. With Ordoro, you can choose from three different plan offerings, all of which accommodate unlimited users and do not place restrictions on monthly orders or shipping. Additionally, Ordoro can integrate with a variety of ecommerce solutions, marketplace channels, POS systems, as well as either Xero or QuickBooks accounting software. It’s worth noting that Ordoro does not offer a mobile app.
As we mentioned, Ordoro focuses not only on inventory management, but also shipping capabilities, offering a number of in-depth shipping functions. Overall, the Ordoro inventory management software includes:
Additionally, Ordoro’s website does state they offer a free trial, but you have to schedule a demo with one of their experts in order to set this up.
With these three plan options, it seems that Ordoro offers more flexibility with their pricing since they operate mostly on a quote-basis. However, with their advanced shipping and dropshipping tools, this inventory management software is great for businesses that want to pair these two processes seamlessly within one platform.
Moreover, unlike the other systems we’ve discussed, Ordoro does not limit your orders, users, or shipping, which can certainly be a benefit for growing businesses. Therefore, although it seems like Ordoro may be a more expensive solution, it can provide advanced tools, especially for shipping, as well as impressive customization and automation possibilities.
At the end of the day, managing your business’s inventory is a complex and essential process, and choosing the best inventory management software for you is an important decision. As you can see, however, there are numerous options on the market to accommodate a wide variety of business industries, sizes, and budgets.
This being said, there’s no doubt that any of the inventory management software options on our list may serve you well, but ultimately, the choice is up to you. You know your business needs best—and by going through the process of exploring these different inventory management software solutions—you have all the knowledge you need to determine which will fulfill your business’s needs best.
It’s important to remember that with the vast capabilities and relatively high monthly or annual costs involved with the majority of these solutions, you may also choose to seek inventory management capabilities elsewhere. As we’ve discussed, there are many business products—ecommerce platforms, POS systems, and accounting solutions—that may be able to offer the simpler inventory management tools you need within their platforms.
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