The practice of inventory management for retail institutions—which covers everything from order processing, to point-of-sales (POS), to warehousing—has come a long way from simple paper-and-pen tracking. Thanks to the technology that’s available today, growing retailers have been able to shift from manual processes to largely virtual ones. The software system that enables such an important shift is known by those who use it as an online inventory management system.
Those new to this kind of system might ask: how big of a help is a computerized inventory management system? The short answer is that it is a big help indeed. Automation, streamlined task management, and access to real-time data all make a significant difference in handling complicated business processes and disparate business data (such as bar codes, warehouse locations, and day-to-day profits).
But as it goes with any big change in a business’s protocols, anyone wanting to adopt an online management system should think the decision over very carefully. There are advantages to updating the way you handle your inventory, but that doesn’t exempt you and your company from certain setbacks.
That said, what are the pros and cons of implementing an online inventory management system? Here’s a quick survey of the ways the software might affect your business.
Pros: Quick, Efficient, and Modernized Processes
First off, an online inventory management system might be just the upgrade you need to your institution’s accounting processes. The new software will likely create a more efficient accounting system by giving you an immediate bird’s eye view of your cash flow. At the same time, you will enjoy flawless integration of your accounting software for disparate tasks like POS transactions, stocking, and warehousing.
Second, an online inventory management system will afford you a very clear picture of your stocks for different items, all in near real-time. Managing your stock with a virtual system is sure to be quicker, more accurate, and more efficient than depending on a manual count or tallying from separate spreadsheets. You can also fast-track the restocking of your bestseller items, ensuring that they are always on the shelf and that your customers’ demands are always met.
Third, with an online inventory management system, it will be easy to generate detailed sales reports for future sales forecasts. With such a system in place, you’ll be able to visualize the financial health status of your company—and you can act swiftly and decisively on matters of generating profit as a result.
Cons: Complexity, System Vulnerability, and Additional Expenses
This is not to say that rolling out an online inventory management system will be without hitches. For one, you must consider the human side of adapting the new technology. The software might seem alien to staff members who are used to the manual route, and it may take some time for them to incorporate it into their daily routine. Try to account for extra work hours that will be spent training your staff on proper use of the system.
Online systems are also vulnerable to the risk of system crash, power failure, or hacking from unscrupulous individuals. To an extent, this is probably why manual inventory management has not become obsolete. If you are to install a completely new software system to be used across all your business sites, you have to make sure that the installation covers the necessary security measures.
Lastly, the cost may be something for fledgling retailers to balk at. As such, investing in a new online inventory management system is a probably a matter of good timing. Roll out the software once your business has hit important growth milestones or if it’s anticipating expansion in the near future. That way, the upgrade will pay itself off sooner than later.
Is An Online Inventory Management System the Ticket to Success?
Pros and cons aside, you may want to avoid depending on a singular platform for inventory management. The new software could act not as a replacement, but a complement to the manual inventory management practices that you already have in place.
The best approach to your business’s inventory management may lie in combining the new tech with good old-fashioned human values of hard work, orderliness, and being service-oriented. Whatever the case may be, here’s to your present and future success!