With the right inventory tools, small and mid-sized businesses can effectively manage their inventory
Inventory management continues to play a critical role in the success of an organization. However, because of the domino effect businesses have on the overall economy, recently “unsold inventory created a big drag on the economy”.
According to NRF Chief Executive Matthew Shay, inventory challenges contributed to the unmet sales goals of the recent holiday season.
Although excess inventory is an undesirable scenario, product shortages are equally as undesirable, as out-of-stock inventory is troublesome for both the business and the customer. Finding balance then becomes pivotal in the success of a business. In a recent study by the Aberdeen Group, the Best-in-Class businesses were able to “right size” their inventory by assessing products, down to the SKU level. Inventory management systems are a great way to be able to look at product information, including detailed information about each SKU.
My name is Lauren Stine and I’m the Onboarding Manager at Acctivate. For nearly eight years, I’ve been helping clients implement Acctivate in their business and learn how to use the software to its fullest. When people choose Acctivate, one of the main reasons they often state as to why they selected our software is that it offers all of the necessary inventory features they need, and then some. Today, I’ll show you what features to look for when you’re in the market for an inventory management system.
Inventory management software systems such as Acctivate provide a wide range of features and tools to help with inventory control. Here are five powerful inventory tools in inventory management software, along with a description of what they are, and the benefits of each.
1. Reorder alerts
What it is
Reorder alerts, or low inventory alerts, will appear in your inventory management system to alert the user(s) of when it’s time to reorder a certain item. The alert will appear when the product level reaches the predetermined reorder level. The inventory management system is able to do this because it is able to see the amount of each product (even if they are in multiple locations, warehouses, etc.), and see when the overall product level has become “low”.
How to use it
By considering certain inventory information, such as previous sales history and expected demand, you can determine the necessary amount of buffer or safety stock for each specific item. Then, you can set the reorder alert based on this amount.
Benefits of reorder alerts are:
- reduction in time spent looking up inventory levels and purchasing
- reduction in manual efforts to look up inventory levels
- increased accuracy of inventory levels through automation.
Additionally, inventory management software may be able to make the purchasing component of reordering products even easier and quicker.
For instance, with Acctivate for QuickBooks inventory software you are able to generate a purchase order straight from the reorder alert. This makes it easy to know when a product level is getting low and easy to reorder that item right away. Therefore, inventory levels are quickly restored and your business is able to have a better inventory control measure in place.
What it is
Reports can be created using the report function in an inventory management system. The data and information is pulled from the system’s database to create a report with all of the pertinent information necessary. Examples of categories of the types of reports and documents available include:
- inventory reports
- sales reports
- purchasing reports
Reports can be standard, meaning they are already available in the inventory management system. Alternatively, reports can be customized, meaning they are a modified or altered version of a standard report or personalized for a business in order to display specific information desired.
How to use it
There are many reports and documents available that can all be used in a variety of ways. Depending on the exact inventory management software system, both standard and custom reports may be available. Acctivate includes over 70 standard reports and has the ability to create custom reports using its integration (we’ll cover system integration later) with Crystal Reports®.
The reports can be used to determine optimum inventory amounts down to the product level by displaying information such as:
- inventory analysis by product
- sales history by a specific customer
- inventory information by lot or serial number
- inventory reorder reports that display all products needing to be reordered
The benefit of reporting is that you are able to see a comprehensive and detailed amount of information at once. This is a time and effort-saving alternative to manually looking up all the data and/or information separately. Additionally, because reports are an automated way of collecting information, potential for error is greatly reduced.
You can check out a gallery of custom reports and documents in our previous blog article that explains how to track inventory with inventory management software.
What it is
In an inventory management software system, a dashboard is an on-screen graphical display of information. Different information and data, which have been pulled from the system’s database, can be viewed from the dashboard. For instance, Acctivate allows users to customize the information that is shown on their dashboard screen.
Here is a screenshot of the dashboard feature in Acctivate:
How to use it
Depending on the user(s) and their roles in the business, the dashboard can be used in a variety of ways to display a wide range of information. For instance, a small business owner could use their dashboard to display information such as monthly sales information, inventory levels per location, etc. On the other hand, a warehouse manager might use their dashboard to display current inventory levels in their warehouse, orders that are scheduled to be received and shipped out, etc.
Again, such as with reports, a dashboard is a great tool for compiling assorted data and information. Because the inventory management system collects and displays this multitude of information, both time and effort are saved, while accuracy is increased.
Barcoding and mobile systems
What it is
Barcoding and mobile systems are a combination of hardware and software that allow your business to assign, scan, and manage barcodes.
Barcode hardware includes items such as barcode scanners and label printers. Barcode software is the system that manages the barcoding and inventory information. To learn more about barcoding hardware and software, visit our page on barcoding inventory management.
How to use it
For an effective inventory management system, barcoding and mobile solutions can be utilized to:
- conduct inventory counts
- verify inventory
- adjust inventory
The benefits of using barcoding and mobile systems are ease, speed, and accuracy. For instance, conducting an inventory count by using a barcode scanner is easier, quicker, and more accurate than conducting an inventory count manually.
To learn all the benefits of barcoding and mobile, check out our informational page here.
5. System integrations
What it is
An inventory management software system is able to integrate with other business management systems, such as accounting software, webstore platforms, and EDI, just to name a few.
How to use it
Depending on the services your business uses, the system integrations necessary will differ. Examples of systems that can integrate with your inventory management software include:
- Accounting software integration
- Web store integration
- 3PL and/or EDI integration
- Reporting software integration
With inventory management software system integration, inventory levels can be seen from a bird’s-eye view from across channels (brick-and-mortar stores, web stores, phone orders, etc.) and locations. Then, inventory can be examined with precision by location, warehouse, product, etc. This gives businesses better insight and information in which to carry out purchasing, sales, and inventory decisions.
Finding the solution with the right inventory tools
To summarize, five powerful inventory tools to utilize in inventory management software include: reorder alerts, reports, dashboards, barcoding and mobile, and system integration. Inventory management software also has many other dynamic features and tools to help with inventory control and management. The best part is, inventory management software is affordable and cost-effective, meaning small to mid-size businesses are able harness the power of inventory management software. Now small and mid-size businesses can reap the benefits of a powerful and robust system.
Acctivate is the most feature-rich and robust inventory management solution for small to mid-size businesses with features and tools such as standard and custom reporting, dashboards, reorder alerts, barcoding and mobile, and more. Additionally, Acctivate’s bidirectional integration with leading accounting software QuickBooks provides businesses a firm grasp on operations and finances. We also integrate with the leading web store platforms and many other technology partners to provide your business the solution it needs to handle your day-to-day operations. But those are just some of the benefits of Acctivate.