By Rieva Lesonsky
Post sponsored by inFlow Inventory.
If you are still using spreadsheets to keep track of your business inventory, it’s time to consider moving to a more efficient and accurate modern solution.
For the busy small business owner forced to wear many hats, it can be difficult to keep track of everything going on in your company. A robust retail and e-commerce store inventory management system can help you maintain the proper amount of stock to meet customer demand without spending more on a higher volume of goods than you need to have on hand. Striking this balance is achievable when you have accurate, real-time data about everything in your inventory.
The power of cloud-based inventory management software offers plenty of reasons to move beyond less sophisticated tools like spreadsheets for keeping track of parts and products. The best software solutions allow you to involve your employees (during inventory periods from multiple locations and mobile devices) and incorporate various workflows. More advanced offerings will synchronize point of sale (POS) data or the monthly statement from your e-commerce platform.
inFlow Inventory is inventory management software designed for small business owners to see the complete picture of their business inventory. Used by more than 10,000 customers in over 120 countries, inFlow is helping business owners in industries such as wholesale, distribution, retail, manufacturing, and e-commerce.
The cloud-based version of the company’s software, inFlow Cloud, keeps all of your information in sync across all of your devices. inFlow Cloud runs off the Microsoft Azure cloud, but many customers find that a hybrid approach, which includes a downloadable local Windows app in addition to the cloud-based app, works best for their needs. Many web-only apps can be slow and unresponsive at times, so this approach puts a bit of the processing demand on your local machine. And downloadable companion web and Android apps allow you to use your smartphone as a barcode scanner. (The company also offers an on-premise solution for customers who prefer to store their data on their own computer.)
One of the big advantages of moving beyond spreadsheets or reducing manual inventory efforts, which can be tedious and prone to inaccuracy due to human error, is that you have a variety of data points, accessible at any time, that can help you manage your business growth.
For instance, detailed inventory data can help you track buying trends (Which items are your bestsellers? How many sell and how often?). It can also help you understand your customers better (Do they buy certain products at certain times of year?). Monitoring inventory will help you figure out which customers are the most loyal, valuable info to help you build a loyalty program that produces more sales.
inFlow Cloud can instantly create “showrooms”—customized websites where you can share product details with whomever you wish. You control who has access, which products are shown, and details such as price, stock levels, and more. These showrooms are perfect for private price lists, B2B portals, custom online catalogs, and read-only inventory reports for your staff.
Once you begin to increase your business knowledge through inventory control, you will be able to generate reports on sales, profits, costs, vendors, customers, back orders, how long inventory will last, and more. (See a full list of inventory reports that come standard with inFlow Cloud.)
inFlow’s inventory tools allow you to set up reorder points to help your business avoid an “out of stock” situation, which can result in lost sales opportunities and disappointed customers. You can set reorder points representing the minimum levels you should keep on hand for each item. When you dip below this point, the system will tell you it’s time to reorder. The end goal, of course, is to ensure you’re thinking ahead and reordering before you ever run out of stock.
There are many aspects of running a business that can keep a business owner from focusing on the most important tasks, but by leveraging the right inventory management software solution, you can reduce the busy work and spend your time on what matters most—growing your profits.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.