Whether you have a small business or a global company, if your business involves selling physical products, an inventory management system is essential.
Startups may get by for a while managing inventory and order fulfillment in house, tracking inventory with Excel spreadsheets. But to grow your ecommerce business, you’ll need a good inventory management system. The data and insights you get alone can help you make better decisions, and the cost savings can make inventory management software pay for itself.
What is an Inventory Tracking System?
An inventory tracking system allows a business to monitor and track inventory items through the sales cycle. It can provide real-time insights into how many products are available, as well as which ones are moving slowly.
Having such a system is extremely beneficial as it allows you to stay up to date on your warehousing tasks and collect important data for better forecasting and better understanding of product profitability.
Inventory management software may be an add-on to accounting software or may be one piece of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software that can manage a variety of resource planning needs, including project management or supply chain management.
Why is Inventory Tracking Important for Ecommerce?
Being able to keep track of your inventory is crucial for ecommerce businesses. Because today’s customers often demand fast shipping, knowing what’s available at all times can allow the business owner to make better decisions.
Inventory tracking allows you to track key inventory data such as:
Stock levels and low stock alerts
Location of stock in multiple warehouses
Inventory turnover ratios
Being able to keep track of your inventory is extremely important for ecommerce businesses. You need to be able to quickly see which products you need to order more of, when, and which ones you may want to discount to sell more quickly.
No business wants to experience stockouts, where a product customers want to buy is not available. They also want to avoid overstocks, where products sit in a warehouse for too long, racking up storage fees.
Ecommerce business owners who don’t manage their own inventory on-premise may struggle since they aren’t seeing inventory. Products often sit in a rented warehouse and sales are made online through an automated system.
The Best Inventory Tracking Systems
As with most products, there will be a range of opinions about which inventory tracking software is best. One business owner may love a specific system and another may find it needs more advanced inventory tools. Ultimately you’ll have to find the software that works for you and your business.
Some key features and benefits to consider when you start looking for an inventory management system include:
Ecommerce platform integration
Integrations with other platforms such as point of sales system
Real-time inventory tracking
Creating purchase orders
Number of SKUs
Inventory turnover rate
Price is also a key consideration, though it’s important to keep in mind that good inventory management can pay for itself by reducing human error, reducing shipping costs, unloading slow-selling inventory, excessive handling and reducing warehouse storage fees, for example.
Here are some top inventory management software systems to consider:
Acumetica is a cloud ERP that can manage a variety of resource planning. Including inventory management. As an inventory management software, it offers real-time inventory information across multiple locations along with tools to manage back orders, returns, credits, and exchanges. Detailed reporting is a forte. For example, inventory can be tracked to different warehouses with stocking locations defined by aisle, row, rack, slot, and bin.
It can handle complex pricing as well as vendor preferences. Detailed forecast models can be used to help manage replenishment of stock, including minimum and maximum quantities, reorder points, and seasonal replenishment.
Acumentica integrates with software such as Quickbooks, Sage, and NetSuite.
Pricing is customized to the needs of the business so you’ll need to request a pricing quote. One advantage over some other competitors is that it offers an unlimited number of user seats.
inFlow offers real-time inventory control. It can help you organize products with photos, serial numbers and units of measure. Generate barcodes and print barcode labels. Plus you can use your mobile device (ios or Android) as a barcode scanner. They also sell barcode scanners and barcode printers.
Stock tracking and stock transfers are available across multiple locations. Get low-stock email notifications and one-click PO generation to help avoid shortages. It also works with multiple currencies.
inFlow offers over 95 integrations including Shopify, USPS, and FedEx.
Annual prices range from $79/month to approximately $1319/ month for enterprise accounts. A 14-day free trial is available.
NetSuite Inventory Management System
NetSuite ERP offers NetSuite Inventory Management. It gives businesses a comprehensive real-time view of inventory levels across multiple sales channels.
Besides inventory management, NetSuite also offers accounting software, financial management, global business management, order management, supply chain management, and warehouse management.
NetSuite charges an annual license fee and a one-time implementation fee. You’ll need to request a pricing quote to determine your cost. .
QuickBooks is known as a leading accounting software solution. Quickbooks Online Plus and QuickBooks Online Advanced also offer inventory management tools to keep you updated on inventory quantities and low stock alerts to help you stay on top of reordering inventory. When you receive new inventory, QuickBooks converts the purchase order (PO) into a bill so you can pay your vendor on schedule.
You’ll also have instant access reports so you can see what’s selling best, as well as track total sales and total taxes. It also syncs with Amazon, Etsy and Shopify.
Tip: Even if you don’t use Quickbooks, you can use a basic Quickbooks’ Inventory Turnover Calculator for free.
Pricing: You’ll need a Quickbooks Online subscription (Plus or Advanced) to use these inventory management tools.
For businesses xentral eCommerce Inventory Management offers powerful D2C (direct to consumer) ecommerce tools that includes robust inventory management, order processing, warehouse pick and pack, outsourced fulfillment and data reporting tools. Features include stock predictions for Amazon FBA, and low stock push notifications.
Promising an dashboard with intuitive workflows, xentral offers free onboarding and training and support. It also integrates with over 1000 eCommerce tools.
Pricing starts at $130 a month to $390 a month, plus user fees. Unlimited users are possible for an additional fee.
Zoho offers a wide range of tools to help you run your ecommerce business smoothly. Zoho Inventory has several features that will help you automate previously time-consuming tasks. Create purchase orders, backorders and drop shipments. Inventory control functions include item kitting, stock adjustments, and automatic re-ordering. Besides inventory management there is also warehouse management, multichannel selling, order management, order fulfillment, and reporting.
Zoho also offers several integrations with Amazon, Shopify, QuickBooks, and more.
Prices start at $0 a month for the most basic package (up to 50 orders per month) and go up to $329 a month. Plus you can try Zoho Inventory free for 14 days.
How to Optimize Ecommerce Inventory Management
One of the best ways to optimize ecommerce inventory management is to choose a good inventory management system to streamline inventory controls, and then invest in time and training to leverage it to make smarter decisions.
The data and insights these platforms provide can allow you to scale your ecommerce business much more quickly than if you tried to figure it out yourself.