Inventory Management -- Ten Signs Your Company is Ready for an Inventory Management System

Many businesses start out with basic financial management software, or bookkeeping software consisting of general ledger, accounts payable and accounts receivable. As the business grows, managing inventory becomes essential to the profitability of the business. Three software modules work together to provide excellent inventory management: inventory, order entry, and purchase orders. What are the signs your business is ready to start looking at an inventory management system?

  1. You sometimes forget to ship backordered items. Without a system to track items on backorder, it can be easy to forget to ship those backordered items. An order entry system allows you to ship the items that are available, and keep track of those unshipped items, so you won’t forget to ship them once available.
  2. You are unsure about when to re-order, and how many of each item to keep in stock. With an inventory system, you can run reports that show demand for each item within the time period you choose, so you’ll know when you are running low, and have a gauge for how many to keep in stock. For example, in the busy sales months you can maintain inventory levels for your customers, but in the slower sales cycle you won’t have a shelf full of obsolete items.
  3. You are unsure which items you sell are the most and least profitable. One item seems to be flying off the shelf, while another has minimal sales revenue. Not knowing of which of those two items is more profitable is a huge mistake. If the slow seller is more profitable, a smart idea would be to focus on increasing sales to improve overall profitability.
  4. When a customer places an order, you cannot tell whether those items are in stock. If you constantly have to walk back to the warehouse or call somebody to physically check on the stock status of an item, you are doing your customer and yourself a disservice. Checking stock manually wastes your employees’ time. It can also result in broken promises or delayed shipping to your customer. Adding a computerized system for checking inventory can greatly enhance your customer satisfaction, and can improve the efficiency of your business.
  5. You have different pricing levels for your products which are currently accessed from a paper file. If you are keeping pricing information on paper, it can be hard to tell which pricing is the most current, and sometimes the correct sheet can even disappear. Having your software keep track of multiple pricing levels is a much more secure and organized way to keep track of pricing. By assigning each customer their respective price level, your orders will automatically show correct pricing when the order is entered into the system.
  6. Order entry and order invoicing are currently done in two separate systems. If you have one system to keep track of orders, and another separate system for entering the accounts receivable invoice, you are spending double the time entering the same information. You can save time and reduce manual errors by electronically entering orders and creating invoices.
  7. Do you have items that can be sold in different units of measure? For instance, you get a discount for purchasing items by the pallet, but your customer buys them by the carton. Having an inventory management system allows you to receive the items in the unit of measure you choose (in this case, by the pallet) and then sell in another unit of measure (i.e. by the carton). The system will also keep track of the item’s purchase price, and the cost of goods sold, in the unit of measure specified.
  8. You track serial or lot numbers on paper or in a spreadsheet. You are tracking serial or lot numbers for a reason, and that reason is to keep track of who got which items, in case of a faulty lot or recall. Having the information on paper can be risky because papers can get lost or damaged. An inventory system allows you to track this information electronically, so you can always run a report to see who got what.
  9. Are you wondering why your profitability is down? With inventory management, you can run reports by item, product line, or sales category showing each item’s profitability, so you’ll know along the way the trend for each of the items you sell. That way you can fix the problem early and maintain your profitability.
  10. Your inventory is running you! The right inventory accounting software can provide the tools your business needs to increase efficiency, provide excellent customer service, and help you to take control of your financial management.
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