Inventory management (IM) is one of the most important aspects of any manufacturing or retail business, as it influences not only the speed and accuracy of order fulfillments, but overall customer satisfaction as a whole. Especially for e-commerce businesses, where the competition in the online marketplace can seem endless, a good inventory management system can be the tool that sets you apart from the rest in your accuracy and efficiency. So what should you look for in an IM system?
HERE ARE OUR TOP 5 CONSIDERATIONS WHEN CHOOSING AN INVENTORY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM:
- Cost Effectiveness. When researching IM systems, begin to estimate the amount of time you would save if you had a program replacing the work that you or your employees have been performing. Compare it to the fixed or monthly price of the program: at the end of the day, will you save more money than you’re spending on it?
- Usability. The user-friendliness of an IM system can make or break its success within your company. You and your employees need to be on the same page as far as understanding and navigating this system, which is why we recommend a training course for the whole company when implementing a new system like this. But even at that, what if people forget? What happens when you are training new employees? So the question to ask yourself when considering a certain platform: does this look like something I could not only learn to use, but also teach to use?
- Support. #2 is why having an excellent support team offered by your I.M. system is crucial. Small business marketer Paul Nugent advises, “Unless you’re super confident in your ability to figure it all out, make sure they offer training and ongoing support, or else you may be signing up for a future emergency.”
- Automation. E-commerce businesses are increasingly becoming hands-off, as new programs are created that allow business owners to step back and let the virtual world take the wheel. This is why you should seek an I.M. system that performs automatic shopping and re-ordering of supplies. Not all will do this, but to maximize your efficiency and minimize issues like back-ordering, we find this feature of automation to be extremely beneficial.
- Credibility. Lastly, we can’t stress enough the importance of having an I.M. system with established credibility. (We recommend Dear Systems). Whether you are an established e-commerce business, in the early stages of development, or somewhere in between, you cannot afford to have your system crash or glitch-out every week. Inventory is a huge building block of your business that you should put in the hands of an established and credible I.M. system!
So with that, some tips before you start your search for an inventory management system…
Know your inventory challenges! Where do you most lack efficiency or accuracy within your current system? What features of an I.M. platform would best help you?
Know how many people will be using and accessing this platform. Based on the number and their location, this may affect the price of the platform.
And lastly, take your time! This is a big decision with many factors. Gather as much information as possible, and enjoy the process of building your business to its full potential.