Top 20 Best Inventory Management Software for Small Business, Enterprises, Platforms, and Solutions
Inventory is one of the largest expense items for many, if not most, companies that sell products. Due to the necessity to control and understand inventory, companies must be keenly aware of stock on hand. Furthermore, executives are extremely interested in understanding how to manage and control inventory levels. The best inventory management software helps companies track inventory.
Inventory control software makes it easy to manage inventory. It does not matter if a business only sells basic products in a single store, you are a solo entrepreneur selling crafts online or a national chain of retail stores. All companies must understand the flow of merchandise to succeed.
With the rise of cloud-based technology, there are plenty of inventory management software solutions that can make life much easier.
Plus, technology has a history of helping managers control inventory costs.
Before computers, tracking inventory involved single-stage calculations done by hand per item, per location. The isolated tracking measures made it difficult, if not impossible, to attain true visibility across large supply chains.
The introduction of the UPC (universal product code) in the 1970s sparked the start of an inventory control technology revolution.
The UPC code started with the grocery industry and moved on to other retail establishments. Gradually, the handwritten inventory processes were replaced by barcode scanning and computer data entry. The inventory technology revolution continues today, as the new control systems make the initial UPC and barcode systems obsolete.
Now, inventory management systems are highly sophisticated and capable of multi-stage, multi-site management, tracking, and analytics. The software market is saturated by diversity in scale, purpose, and functionality, which makes the buying process extremely complicated.
As with most markets that are well developed, there are a lot of possible solutions. Due to the complexity of inventory controls (products are being bought and sold everyday), the best inventory management systems should be considered an investment.
As a small business owner that struggled with inventory control notes the upside of a great software solution:
“We’ve been able to make things as efficient as possible in terms of order taking right on through our picking and shipping process. For us, the investment certainly was worth it.”
How Does Inventory Management Software Work?
Inventory management software aims to control how companies stock merchandise or items required to produce final merchandise.
Often, companies rely on the inventory module that is including in a stock accounting system. However, these modules, whether they are basic or sophisticated, tend to do little more than provide a quantity count of how much stuff is in the warehouse.
Typically, these out-of-the-box modules perform pretty well at stock control, but are not much help in managing inventory volumes to avoid a common scenario.
Your company carries inventory to satisfy customer requirements, but no matter how much time is spent trying to calculate the perfect quantity to order, your business:
• continues experience the frustrations of stock outages on high demand items (which are critical for cash flow and financial success).
• suffers from old inventory “gathering dust” because customers do not want old merchandise (despite any discounts).
Businesses suffer from inventory imbalance and both dilemmas cost precious resources (time to figure out how to manage the inventory and money wasting on unsold products).
The best inventory management software helps alleviate this issue.
Inventory management software improves operational efficiencies compared to the alternative (or manual method of tracking inventory through an excel spreadsheet) because:
• spreadsheets become unwieldy quickly.
• tracking is at risk of human error and incorrect data entry.
• inventory is not updated on a real-time basis.
• data is likely stored locally and at risk of loss or corruption.
• limited ability to be imported into accounting or POS software.
• method is not scalable and will struggle to keep up with the growth of your business.
As a result, it becomes difficult to properly analyze inventory and sales data in real-time, which hinders the ability to order proper amounts of merchandise.
Technology, such as barcodes and/or radio-frequency identification (RFID), matched with software enables managers to make real-time decisions.
Now, where to begin the evaluation process?
To start, define what is needed.
Bob Parker, vice president of industry research at IDC Industry, explains why it is important to start with the basics:
“Before you get fancy, get the fundamentals right.Do you have good part numbering and stocking locations? Do you have well-defined and understood processes for receiving, put away, pick, move and ship? Do you employ good control mechanisms like regular cycle counts? Once the fundamentals are in place an SMB can explore more advanced technology like barcode readers and analysis tools if volumes support it.”
Understanding the foundation becomes worthwhile because there are so many options and benefits that inventory management software provide to businesses.
• Highest Level of Data Security
• Lower Implementation Costs
• Reduced Setup Time
• Subscription Based Billing Means No Long Term Commitment
• Access Inventory Data Anywhere, Anytime
There are a tremendous amount of benefits that businesses derive from a web-based inventory management system.
Standard Inventory Management Features
As a company understands their individual needs, then it is important to understand the standard features, benefits and services that the leading software solutions provide.
The inventory requirements of various industries are quite different, so many of the best inventory management solutions cater to specific niches or sectors. While evaluating the standard features, it might be a good idea to mark down the benefits that are definites, as well as irrelevant.
However, there are critical features that all niche software solutions should provide.
• Central hub to ensure software acts as a ‘central hub’ between all purchase points, including online stores and multiple physical locations.
• Real-time data is particularly important for companies with multiple stores or warehouses.
• Security that enables all inventory to be backed up online in the cloud and not stored locally.
• Hardware integration that allows the software to work with existing operating system and barcode or RFID scanner.
All software solutions should offer technical support and training that allows critical team members to understand how to use the product. For some vendors, the additional cost of implementation, support, and training can be quite expensive.
Good inventory software allows managers to see overall inventory levels and look at individual items to determine specific sales and resupply history. Being able to track these by lot or serial numbers makes it easier to find specific groups of products, along with tracking returns and process reorders. Some software provides warnings if inventory gets low, while others include reports to identify products that need reordering.
Keep an eye on the following features:
• Track by Preferred Method
• Transparent Inventory Stages
• Track Return Management
• Track Business Supplies and Low Stock Alerts
• Track Kitting
• Track Transferred Stock Across Multiple Locations
• Sales Forecasting Functionality
All inventory management programs should allow managers to bulk import inventory information from standard options, such as a CSV file. The best solutions integrate with barcode scanners or leading eCommerce shopping cart software to ease the administrative implementation and tracking effort.
In particular, if your business sells online, then. eCommerce integration is especially useful because it tracks online sales (plus physical sales). In addition, here are some other standard administrative features:
• Manage Customer Database
• Customizable Paperwork
• Multi-Currency Capability
• Customizable Input Optionality
• Printable Labels
• Unlimited Users
• Delegation Authority
Reporting and Data Analysis
Database tools, like adding notes to products or customer databases and attaching product images, enhance product information. In particular, images are especially useful when several products have similar names. The best inventory management solutions include reporting tools and the ability to analyze business data.
For example, by including the customer and supplier database within the program, managers can easily create orders and check on specific sales data. Along those lines, here are some other benefits that the best software provide:
• Customizable Reports
• Integrate with Existing Software
• Import Historical Data
• Complete Set of Financial Tools
For companies with multiple warehouses, businesses or locations, look for programs with features to combine numbers or view the locations separately. Through web-based technology, inventory management program allows managers to monitor inventory and sales in multiple areas. The best solutions enable managers to order more products through a mobile interface that is complete with customizable information, such as:
• Create Purchase Orders
• Create Custom Alerts
• Provide Inventory Planning & Forecasting
The best inventory software is easy to use and fits within the confines of your current business operations.
For example, consignment shops or local grocers with perishable products can present unique challenges to a basic software solution aim at the retail market. Take the time to conduct proper due diligence to understand standard features and must have services while evaluating inventory management solutions.
The Best Inventory Management Software Solutions
For any business sells a product, having strong control on inventory is vital to success and inventory control software provides the necessary tools to tackle this tricky task. Here are the 20 best inventory management software solutions.
1. Revel Systems POS
Revel Systems POS is one of the leading inventory management provides because of its role as a premier partner for Intuit QuickBooks integration. The Revel POS System is an award-winning iPad Point-of-Sale Solution, for any businesses, with one location, or with multiple locations.
Revel Systems POS software offers a feature-rich POS solution that is ideal for any restaurant, retail business that has established QSR and requires integration with payroll, inventory tracking or customer relationship management.
Pricing: Revel Systems POS offers a free version that is web-based and ideal for small business that needs a lightweight solution to control inventory.
2. RICS Software
RICS Software is a cloud-hosted retail technology software solution that provides inventory control, point of sale, customer management, and reporting tools to help retailers make profitable decisions.
RICS Software helps single or multi-store retail outlets maximize profit through data driven buying and manage inventory accuracy to buy smarter and increase sales through better marketing and enhanced sales analysis.
Pricing: RICS Software does not disclose pricing, but does offer free demos. Any retail business that needs help with controlling inventory-related costs should consider RICS Software.
BizSlate is a cloud-based inventory and order management solution that helps small businesses increase revenue and profit by improving the relationships between customers, orders and inventory. BizSlate seamlessly integrates with QuickBooks Online (QBO) and large e-Commerce solutions to maintain accurate and real-time inventory across all sales channels.
BizSlate is a web-based solution that allows access from anywhere, at any time, on any device. The software is ideal for small and medium sized business that focus on wholesale distribution and manufacturing in the apparel, footwear, accessories and/or housewares sectors.
Pricing: BizSlate offers a free demo and starts at $79 per month per user. The standard package comes with training and 24/7 customer service.
TradeGecko is a cloud-based inventory management platform designed to make commerce effortless. The software solution manages inventory, purchasing and sales in one system by connecting both offline or online sales channels to the TradeGecko platform.
TradeGecko streamlines business operations by integrating with the leading accounting software, which enables companies focused on wholesale businesses online. TradeGecko is great for small and mid-size wholesalers, distributors and/or any online retailer.
Pricing: TradeGecko offers a free trial and starts at $79 per month (with monthly or yearly subscriptions to help companies meet cash flow) for up to 2 users, along with other packages to meet enterprise business needs. TradeGecko offers a complete training package and fully mobile solution.
5. Stitch Labs
Stitch Labs is an inventory management solution that simplifies multi-channel retail business by automatically syncing inventory, orders, and sales across channels. The solution provides retailers with operational efficiencies and a holistic understanding of their businesses.
Stitch allows small to medium sized retailers save time, make better decisions, and grow their business.
Pricing: Stitch Labs offers a 14 day trial period and starts at $199 per month for 3 sales channels. Stitch offers larger packages to allow companies to grow with the solution and includes an enterprise product.
6. Passport Inventory
Passport Inventory provides a configurable, integrated barcode inventory control solution for managing warehouses, stockrooms, distribution areas, manufacturing, work in progress, supply rooms, facilities management and packaging plants.
Passport Inventory offers a comprehensive inventory management software solution that meets the needs of many different verticals and meets the budget constraints small, medium and large businesses.
Pricing: Passport Inventory offers a free demo and starts at $7,000 for a one-time payment. Although the solution requires a large upfront expense, particularly for small businesses, companies only pay for features and modules they will use.
EZOfficeInventory is the leading non-intrusive asset tracking and inventory management software that offers seamless deployment and supports team collaboration around asset reservations, checkouts and audits.
EZOfficeInventory provides small and mid-sized businesses, along with enterprise companies with a well-rounded inventory solution that includes a lightweight web-based product and leading mobile application that can scan QR and barcode labels.
Pricing: EZOfficeInventory offers a free trial and some of the lowest starting prices in the industry at $29 per month for up to 50 users. The starting package does limit some of the customizable report services.
TrackVia helps medium and large companies streamline and manage their inventory processes, workflow processes and data with no coding or IT help needed. The solution allows managers to gain instant visibility into inventory operations and drive more informed decision-making across an enterprise through real-time reporting and analytics.
TrackVia targets a wide range of organizations, including large and mid-sized enterprises, in both the private and the non-profit sectors. It helps these organizations access or enter data, scan barcodes, geo-tag locations, check reports and collaborate, including on their mobile app.
Pricing: TrackVia offers a free demo and does not disclose pricing options. Based on the target market of medium to large companies, TrackVia is likely not a low cost provider.
NetSuite inventory management software offers a complete set of inventory management, manufacturing and purchasing capabilities that improves supply chain management and delivers an end-to-end, procure-to-pay process. The inventory management software provides an in-depth, real-time view into key supplier, inventory and procurement indicators.
NetSuite is ideal for mid-size businesses, but does offer self-service capabilities for partners, vendors and customers to improve collaboration throughout the entire supply chain.
Pricing: NetSuite offers a free demo, but does not disclose pricing options. NetSuite provides companies with a large set of software solutions and targets medium sized businesses. Due to its size, NetSuite does offer significant training and customer service.
10. ProActive Medical Inventory
ProActive Medical Inventory is a niche software solution for medical supply companies with a minimum of 3 users.
The inventory allows small team to create inventory requisitions, manage par levels and receive email alerts to warn when certain items are low. The software excels at customization, such as custom reports and customization of screen fields that allow for imports from FDA drugs database.
Pricing: ProActive Medical Inventory offers a free demo, but does not disclose pricing. As a niche player, there is limited training and customer support. However, as a specialty provider, if your company matches the niche, ProActive is worth reviewing.
Acctivate helps control inventory programs and boost growth through a powerful, intuitive and affordable software solution. Acctivate integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks to manage all phases of business in real-time with features for inventory control, purchasing, customers, warehousing, barcoding, landed cost and lot/serial numbers.
Acctivate, which is ideal for small to medium size companies, also integrates with leading eCommerce platforms, EDI providers and other best-in-breed solutions to help wholesale distribution and/or light manufacturing businesses improve inventory controls.
Pricing: Acctivate is for serious businesses because it starts at $4,995 as a one time solution. Acctivate targets small businesses, so sophisticated companies with big inventory concerns should consider this solution to help.
Orderhive is a smart inventory control and order management software that integrates with all of the leading eCommerce platforms like Amazon, eBay, Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce, CS-Cart, Etsy, Xero, USPS, FedEx, WooCommerce, and many more. The software, aimed at retailers, helps centralize and automate inventory across all various sales channels through ship and track orders of USPS, UPS, DHL, FedEx, and other mail providers.
Orderhive is an ideal solution for sellers across the globe that want to streamline and automate inventory and order processes.
Pricing: Orderhive offers flexible pricing options, including a free trial and free version. The standard plan starts at $29 per month and offers customization to create a solution that meets your unique business needs.
WellnessLiving is a comprehensive solution that offers email marketing, merchant processing, payroll, reputation management, robust reporting, rewards program to easily manage and grow a business. The platform includes options to embed schedules, generate reviews, send emails/SMS notifications, rewards program, marketing automations into your business web site.
WellnessLiving was built through the experience of existing customers that require the best all-in-one management software solution. The solution is easy and flexible, but powerful and highly customizable.
Pricing: WellnessLiving starts at $39 per month and is highly customizable. As one of the leading all-in-one solutions, there is substantial training and support.
14. Windward System Five
Windward System Five aims to help control inventory and maximize benefits from just-in-time inventory. Windward System Five provides a complete inventory management solution by controlling inventory, tracking items, ensuring adequate supplies, increasing warehouse productivity, and significantly reducing paper flow.
Windward System Five targets small to medium sized businesses in the retail or wholesale space gain control of their business because it enables manages to input and track manufacturer’s serial numbers, generate and print internal barcodes, and track true cost and warranty sets it apart from any other inventory system.
Pricing: Windward System Five offers a free trial and starts potential customers with a free version that includes mobile access, along with standard training and customer support.
15. CashFootprint Point-of-Sale
CashFootprint is a retail point-of-sale software application that organizes inventory, tracks customer history, manages employee access and securely process transactions. CashFootprint offers integrated features like store credit, loyalty points, and gift card tracking.
CashFootprint targets small to mid-sized businesses throughout the world, regardless of industry.
Pricing: CashFootprint provides potential users with a free demo and starts at $99 as a one-time fee per user.
HandiFox is a mobile inventory tracking and sales management solution that allows small businesses to automate sales and maintain comprehensive inventory control. Inventory management features include scanning barcodes, ability to create and review purchase orders, automated inventory counting and shipment verification, along with sales automation.
HandiFox is a full featured mobile inventory tracking and sales system designed to integrate with QuickBooks, which makes the solution a nice fit for small and mid-size companies in any industry.
Pricing: HandiFox offers a free trial, but starts at $995 as a one-time fee per user. The solution offers mobile and desktop functionality, along with standard customer support and well documented user training.
Ordoro acts as a central hub for all sales channels as it syncs inventory across shopping carts and marketplaces. Managers can save time by avoiding the need to log into multiple sites, copying and pasting and hoping nothing falls through the cracks. Ordoro monitors inventory changes as orders arrive and products are restocked, pushing updates out to all storefronts.
Ordoro caters to online retailers of all sizes and channels looking to streamline their back-end operations with order, inventory, and shipping management tools, as well as an open API.
Pricing: Ordoro is a web-based inventory software solution that offers a free trial and starts at $39 per month. For any online merchant, Ordoro is worth a deeper dive and offers significant value for the starting price point.
Contalog is a multi-channel selling platform that allows B2B and B2C businesses to leverage web and mobile selling channels. Contalog is a cutting edge solution and aims to become the leader as a omni-channel digital commerce platform. The platform offers centralized inventory, order and product information management across multiple sales channels thus reducing time soaking management tasks and supports third-party integrations like Magento, Shopify, Bigcommerce, Xero, Quickbooks, Shipstation, Amazon and Ebay.
Contalog serves B2B, B2C and manufacturing companies as a comprehensive solution or managers can leverage standalone units like inventory management, order management or the mobile commerce app.
Pricing: Contalog offers a free trial, along with a free version to help small companies expand into multiple sales channels. For any company that looks to build out an inventory management solution, than piecemeal options may end up being quite expensive.
19. Inventory Track
Inventory Track aims to simplify the management of warehouse stock through easily tracking inventory and providing automatic restocking notification. Inventory Track allows users to scan manufacturer barcodes or produce barcode labels directly from the platform as well.
Inventory Track targets warehouses, retail stores, laboratories, stock rooms, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, rental companies and enables managers to control users through information records and activity logs.
Pricing: Inventory Track offers a free trial that can extend into a free version. The starting package begins at $400 as a one-time fee.
20. Solid Commerce
Solid Commerce enables sellers to manage their entire inventory across multiple marketplaces and websites by tying together solutions that include order and vendor management, marketplace listing, inventory control, warehousing, shipping and repricing.
Solid Commerce is a web-based platform that provides a complete solution for selling online, as well as integrates fulfillment and logistics needs. The sophisticated inventory management software is matched with dedicated support that saves time and boosts sales.
Pricing: Solid Commerce does not provide pricing information, but the platform is simple and easy to use for company of all sizes. The cloud-based solution means no installations or restrictions, which allows managers to run their business anywhere, anytime.
How to Compare Inventory Management Providers
Solutions for inventory management come in a variety of packages.
Although there is a stunning amount of differentiation among solutions, the best inventory management solutions help automate and control some or all of the following areas:
• Inventory balance optimization (maintaining the best mix and volume of items)
• Tracking inventory between locations (via barcodes, serial numbers, or radio frequency ID)
• Procurement of new inventory (replenishment ordering, receiving, returns)
• Warehouse distribution (packaging, shipping)
• Connecting product sales (in-store or online) to inventory levels
• Preventing spoilage and obsolescence
• Managing fixed assets (equipment, facilities, vehicles)
• Demand forecasting and planning
• Accurate financial reporting
To compare between the various vendors, it is important to decide which of these functional areas are important to your business and select software with strong tools in those areas.
There are also more general traits for effective inventory software that will help you keep up with competitors and reap greater return on your investment.
• Choose a system that integrates with or includes other back-office systems, like point-of-sale (POS), customer relationship management (CRM), and accounting software.
Inventory management is not an end in itself. It is only valuable because it enables better execution of other business processes, like sales, marketing, and service delivery.
• Choose a system that works in real time and is flexible, scalable, and transparent to users.
Inventory is not a fixed entity, but rather a living, breathing organism subject to continuous fluctuation.
The best inventory management programs are responsive to these changes and keep users updated in real- time. The cream of the crop find a way to grow with your company, such as adding new warehouses, employees, and store locations.
Here are fives keys to keep in mind during the decision making process.
1. Ease of Use
Training staff to use new technology can be an expensive, time-consuming process. Many vendors offer live demonstrations or software trials, so test drive the inventory software before any purchase. This is a great way to evaluate how easy (or hard!) a product will be for you and your employees to learn, without having to spend a dime.
2. Balance of Features and Simplicity
Make a list of the inventory tracking features that are must have and use this as a measuring stick for the solutions you’re considering.
3. Integration with Existing Technology
There are two considerations here: hardware and software. Avoid unexpected expenses by carefully reviewing the system requirements for the inventory software you are considering. Be sure that the existing operating system supports any solution the company considers.
4. Timeliness of Data
Inventory solutions can be used as software only or with a mobile computer. Using a mobile computer provides the flexibility to update inventory data from the warehouse, instead of doing every transaction from a computer. If your inventory changes rapidly or you don’t keep large amounts of stock on hand, wireless inventory solutions that offer real-time data is a must.
Trying to determine what an inventory tracking solution actually costs can be difficult. Elements that can bump up your basic solution cost are per-seat software licenses, hardware add-ons (like mobile computers or barcode scanners), technical support contracts, training, and implementation. Request a quote that includes everything required to eliminate surprises when it’s time to buy.
Choosing the right inventory solution for your business will take time and careful research, but it’s worth the investment.
How to Choose the Best Inventory Management Software Solution
The best inventory control software does more than just track the flow of products in and out of a storefront or warehouse. The best software alerts managers related to inventory issues, handles different kinds of orders and works within the confines of the current operations, while providing reporting tools that enable managers to make sound business decisions.
According to Bob Parker, the aforementioned vice president at IDC Industry Insights notes that inventory management systems may seem expensive, but provide sufficient return if implemented and leveraged correctly.
“The relative merit of investment depends on the size of the problem that is being addressed. Fifty thousand dollars is not much if you free up $150,000 or more of cash.”