How to Choose the Best Inventory System for a Small Retail Business

A good inventory management software is essential for a retail business, regardless of the size of the business. This tool can help you refine your daily operations, and it the long run, it can significantly boost your profits. By having the right products in stock at the right time, you will be able to cater to all of the needs of your customers, and this will help you increase customer loyalty and boost your sales. So, it is time to give up the tedious and inefficient manual inventory and instead opt for a modern software solution. And don’t worry about the costs, as we will help you find an affordable solution that can suit the specific needs of your small business.

1. Understand your stock

To understand your stock control needs and establish your key performance indicators, you need to answer a few essential questions:

  • How often do you run out of popular stock?
  • Did you ever lose money on account of excess stock?
  • Do you have a barcoding system in place?
  • How much time is spent in warehouse transit?
  • Is your current inventory system providing valuable sales data?
  • How accurate and profitable are your current inventory forecasts?

By answering these questions, you will be able to get a clear understanding of how your stock is affecting the goals of your business, and what needs need to be satisfied by your inventory management system.

2. Consider the costs

Obviously, you shouldn’t break the bank to buy the most expensive software on the market, but think of this acquisition like an investment. Consider what business goals you hope to achieve with a new software and how fast you want to achieve those goals. Based on these facts, you can determine how much you are willing to invest in a new software solution in order to maximize the return of your investment. For very small businesses with only a handful of employees, you can find a good inventory system for less than $30/per month. We personally recommend the Shortly inventory app, as it is very affordable, very easy to use and highly efficient. It price starts at only $25/month and within this price you get full access to all the features for 3 users. You can even get a free trial to see for yourself whether it is the right choice for your business.

3. Look for key features that make the difference

Due to the fact that each business has specific needs, you need to determine what features are essential for your business. First of all, you need to consider how many employees need to access the system. Secondly, you need to look for a system that can handle the number of business locations that you currently run. If you use gift cards, or if you make periodic sales and discounts, you will also need a specific feature for these scenarios. Compatibility is also important, so consider whether or not you need the inventory system to be compatible with an accounting system, a shipping system or a customer loyalty system. Last but not least, when considering these factors, think not only on your current needs, but also on future needs. If you plan on expanding your business in the future, you should look for a system that can handle that expansion, so that you won’t have to waste time and money switching to a new system when your business needs change.

4. Opt for ease of use

It can be very hard to determine a product’s ease of use, based solely on promotional information. As such, we strongly advice that you don’t invest in any product, before trying it out first. Any reputable software provider should be able to offer you a free trial or a demo account, so that you can familiarize yourself with the product. Ideally, you should look for a system that can be installed and used even by people with zero programming skills. Last but not least, make sure to choose a software provider that offers technical support. This way, if you ever encounter any problems, you will benefit from immediate support, so that you don’t waste any time or money due to technical difficulties.