Imagine a world where automation and cloud technology didn’t exist - a world where everything had to be documented manually. Imagine how long it would take to communicate with colleagues and clients without email, or having to write down every single transaction by hand as a shop owner.
Without software to automate laborious tasks, everything would slow to a halt. Despite this, a significant number of businesses still fail to automate and fix outdated processes that, if they were to do so, would save valuable time and reduce the number of costly business errors caused by manual data entry.
Inventory Management is one example of this. If you’re a business that sells a tangible product, it’s vitally important you get your inventory management setup sorted so you’re capturing the right information, in the right way.
What are the benefits of cloud-based inventory management systems?
When it comes to Inventory Management, some businesses still start with a spreadsheet or even gut-feel to manage their stock levels. This might be adequate enough at the beginning, but as your business grows these manual processes won’t be able to scale with you, reducing productivity and increasing the likelihood of lost business through stock-outs and data entry mistakes.
Here are some of the benefits a cloud-based inventory system can offer.
Save time. Manually entering stock detail into a spreadsheet sucks up a lot of time and energy. Think about how much time you and your staff could save if key parts of the inventory management process were automated by software.
Minimise lost sales. Manual data entry leaves plenty of room for error, and means you’re less likely to be on top of your stock as a result. Cloud-based inventory software has the ability to display your stock levels in real time and allow you to set minimum stock level alerts, so you can anticipate demand and respond proactively rather than reactively when it comes to managing your inventory. The outcome? You’re less likely to lose sales due to unexpected stock-outs.
Powerful reporting capabilities. Access to insightful reporting is one of the big benefits of a cloud-based inventory management system. Apps such as TradeGecko, Cin7 and DEAR have powerful built-in reporting tools that can help you track sales and, in some cases, help you forecast stock levels based on previous sales periods and seasonal trends.
Integration (and automation). Many software platforms like the examples above integrate with other cloud-based apps - examples include Xero, Shopify and Magento as well as many others. Integrating inventory management with your accounting software removes the time-consuming need for double data entry. And with your inventory system and ecommerce store automatically working in sync, your online customers are less likely to be disappointed by a surprise stock-out.
Fit for purpose. One of the great advantages of inventory management software is that it’s built for purpose. POs and invoices capture necessary detail such as quantities, item size, item colour and units of measurement in a way that’s industry standard. Many inventory software platforms also include additional features such as B2B ordering platforms, 3PL integration, barcode scanning and the ability to categorise, track and order product by location.
Monitor stock levels wherever you are. The beauty of cloud-based software is that you can access it anywhere - in most instances, all you need is a laptop and internet connection. If your company has a mobile sales team, being able to check stock and raise orders on the run can save them valuable time.
Cost-effectiveness. Cloud-based inventory software tends to be sold by subscription, and many providers offer tiered packages so you can pick the right one for your business. Paying a subscription also ensures your software is automatically updated by the provider as and when updates are ready - gone are the days of having to purchase a CD and install new software (and with it, the potential for unexpected down-time).
Right, I’m sold! How do I get ready to migrate?
Most cloud inventory software companies offer free trials, and this is a great way to dip your toes in the water as a starting point. Test-drive a few options to see what works best for your business, and make the most of your trial period by getting your team involved and testing out the different features, reporting tools and templates on offer.
Once you’ve made the call to move to the cloud, the first thing to do is tidy up your stock list, customer and supplier information - working with clean data is key. A full stocktake will be required before converting your business over to a new inventory system, so it’s best to schedule all of this outside of your busy sales periods if possible.
It’s also important to consider whether you need to shift your accounting software to Xero at the same time, as this will add a few extra steps to the process to ensure everything integrates seamlessly.
If this all seems like a lot of work, there’s no need to feel daunted. As an experienced cloud integrator, Business Continuum can help guide you on the best way to transition your business across to cloud-based inventory management software. If you’re keen to find out more about how your business could benefit from cloud-based business software, feel free to contact us to discuss your specific requirements.