All You Need to Know About Small Business Inventory Apps
November 10, 2023
With the rapid growth of e-commerce and improved internet access, businesses have started to welcome inventory management solutions such as inventory apps. Small business inventory apps are a game-changing tool for businesses trying to stay competitive.
Unlike large retailers, small businesses need to deal with high initial investment costs before they can implement inventory management solutions. And that’s not the only challenge – there is also the reluctance to switch from manual and legacy systems.
If you’re a small business wanting to bring efficiency to your inventory management but unsure where to begin, you’re at the right place. In the guide below, we’ve gathered all the data on features, benefits, and more regarding small business inventory apps. Keep reading till the end to improve your understanding of this novel inventory management solution.
What is an Inventory Management App?
An inventory management app is a software application that enables businesses to scan, track and organize inventory, manage orders, maintain inventory levels, and more.
Through their collective features and offerings, these apps enable inventory managers to gain better control of their inventory, orders, sales, and many other facets of their business.
While such solutions are typically available as web solutions, they also come in a more handy form, such as small business inventory apps. Unlike web solutions, small business inventory apps can be downloaded on mobile devices similar to any other iOS or Android application from the respective app store. They allow users to access and manage their inventory from anywhere and anytime.
It suffices to say that the successful implementation of a small business inventory app can give any business a considerable competitive advantage.
If you’re still unsure how a small business inventory app can help your business, let’s take a closer look at the benefits.
Benefits of Inventory Management Apps for Small Businesses
A small business inventory app can help you bring efficiency to several tasks. Here are some of the more common applications of these inventory management solutions and the benefits they offer.
Automating Manual Tasks
Small businesses typically have a small inventory and hence opt for manual processes. Regardless of the size of operations, manual tasks are time, effort and resource-intensive. Inventory counts could take double the time and tasks such as asset tracking may never get done on time.
And that’s not all.
Inventory tracking and counting are tasks that require higher accuracy, too. A small business inventory app can drastically cut down the time taken while also improving accuracy by preventing double counts.
Moreover, the app can automatically perform tasks like updating information, generating invoices, and calculating taxes without human input.
Apart from reduced time and automated operations, a small business inventory app also improves productivity in other ways. One example is simplifying the entry of data into the systems. With the entire database available and accessible via mobile devices, you can update or add data to the system at all times from wherever you are located.
Data accuracy is an essential factor that can help small businesses make important investment and spending-related decisions with more confidence. The accuracy further ensures you generate the revenues you’ve planned.
With an inventory management app, you no longer need to work through the hassle of looking up data accuracy on a web platform. Whether you need to generate reports or scan barcodes, you can rely on the mobile app to accurately capture and present the data for you.
Improved Order Accuracy
Order management systems have been one of the most implemented inventory management solutions in the U.S. in 2020. They’re also one of the best-performing solutions in inventory management.
These systems allow businesses to streamline their ordering processes to ensure the right orders reach the right customers on time. This helps improve your client relationships and boost customer satisfaction rates.
Ordering inventory, storing it, packaging it, and then delivering it takes considerable investment. In addition to investing such a large amount, a small business may also find it difficult to allocate funds in the right place and at the right time to maximize profits.
An app can not only keep accurate data on your inventory but also analyze the data to help you lower your insurance, transportation, carrying costs, etc. Not only does this help small businesses free up more of their funds, but they can also invest it in growing the business.
Inventory management apps can also help businesses save costs by reducing costly errors like overstocks and incorrect inventory data.
Inventory management apps provide up-to-date information on stock levels, sales, reorder points, optimum restocking times, and more. They allow your team to view essential parameters at a glance and make critical decisions faster and more effectively.
Improved Warehouse Layout
Most businesses can prevent stockouts by increasing their inventory levels, but they often lack the space to hold all that extra inventory. A small business inventory app can resolve this issue easily.
It lets you map your warehouse space to achieve optimized storage. This means you can store more products to prevent future stockouts.
But that’s not all.
The apps can also help you organize your inventory better by categorizing your products appropriately and allocating them to storage bins. This ultimately helps your workers to handle products better and locate them faster.
Easy Management of Multiple Business Locations
While multiple locations are a more common issue for large companies, it may become an obstacle for small businesses that are in the process of scaling. Whether dealing with multiple stockrooms or locations, a small business inventory app can help you manage them all from one mobile device.
The apps give you unmatched visibility into all your locations and in real time too. The best part is you can monitor the information from a single database.
From forecasts for future repairs to projections of future costs, there’s a lot of information that could help you plan your future operations better. A small business inventory app can give you complete visibility into this data through a simple mobile dashboard.
Forecasting is best utilized for predicting demand and adjusting your orders for maximum profits. This is especially crucial for small businesses since they might be short on funds and need more accurate forecasts to invest in more inventory.
Improved Understanding of Market Trends
Apart from market demand, you also need to be able to understand and track market trends in real-time. Products can get outdated quickly, and newer items might be in stock next week. If your inventory has a high number of obsolete items, then you might suffer a huge blow.
Thankfully, with a small business inventory app, you only need to check these trends from your mobile device and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Features to Look For in Inventory Management Apps for Small Businesses
While we’ve covered most of the key features of inventory management apps and their benefits above, there are additional features to consider when selecting a small business inventory app.
Since you’re probably employing a small team, you will want to pick an app that’s easy to use with a simple setup process. It’ll help your team adapt to the inventory management app faster and with less resistance.
Interoperability allows you to increase the capabilities of your small business inventory app. The more integrations your app supports or more open standards the app uses, the more software solutions you can connect it with and sync data between the two. Two key workflows you want to check for are with your accounting software and your Point-of-Sale (POS) systems. Most importantly, you should avoid vendor lock-in by using apps that work with open data formats.
Cloud technology makes all the difference when you need to track assets in real-time or access reports when you’re away from the office. In addition, it also helps keep your data secure.
Mobile-First and Mobile-Native Apps
Apps built for mobile applications first are better equipped to deal with the needs of mobile users. From their design to the layout and interface, everything is customized for mobile devices.
Mobile-native apps will also optimize the complete offerings of mobile devices to include features like dark mode, notification alerts, etc.
In contrast, apps built for web/desktop first won’t have all its functionalities optimized for mobile. Non-native apps using cross platform app frameworks (such as Flutter, Ionic, and Xamarin) might be great for desktops but don’t offer the best user experience on mobile, which can be critical for small businesses. If the app looks like a web site repackaged, is sluggish, has different workflows (such as when accessing files on your device) or updates without an app update via the App Store or Play Store, chances are good that it is not a mobile-native app.
If you’re using a variety of mobile devices like laptops, tablets and smartphones, you want to ensure your inventory management app can work with them—especially the layout and orientation.
You should be able to go portrait or landscape mode whenever you want while also getting an adaptive layout for both.
Consistency in Features Across Platforms
Many small business inventory apps offer only a limited number of features on their mobile platforms and provide complete features on their web/desktop solutions. This means your workers will need to switch to the desktop version to complete certain tasks, which may take a lot of time, reduce productivity and increase the risk of errors.
From scanning and tracking to label printing and physical inventory, you want to confirm whether your app supports all the features of its desktop version.
Supports Multiple Global Languages
Apps that are available in multiple global languages will be much easier for your team to adapt to, further reducing the total setup time. It’ll also mean fewer errors when using the app.
Transparent and Small Business-Friendly Pricing
While the pricing can vary widely, a small business inventory app should be affordable for small businesses. Moreover, you want to work with a provider that offers transparent pricing for all its products.
More than anything, you want to keep an eye on the monthly vs. annual prices. A reliable provider will offer both options and won’t charge the monthly package for a price that’s more than 15% of the pro-rated monthly cost for the annual package.
What is the Best Inventory Management App for Small Businesses?
We’ve done the research and looked around but haven’t found a small business inventory app that checks all the boxes for the features and benefits we’ve listed. Competitors are either falling short on features and functionalities, or they’re asking for unreasonable prices.
A small business inventory app can help a small business stay afloat during tough times and support its plans to scale. Whether you’re planning to up your inventory management game or reduce your costs, an inventory app is the one solution you need.
We hope this guide helps you find the perfect inventory app that makes your operations more resilient, puts your capital to good use, and improves the overall efficiency of your business operations.
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