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Key Features of Effective Inventory Management Software

In today’s business climate, customer demands change overnight, and competition lurks around every corner. So, knowing exactly what’s going on with your inventory is more important than ever. Businesses have relied on tedious manual inventory management processes for decades, requiring staff to pour over endless spreadsheets and wrestle dusty filing cabinets. These manual processes are riddled with human error and tend to result in stockouts or excess inventory eating into your bottom line.

Thankfully, inventory management has had a modern-day makeover to keep up with the technological advancements that shape the current business landscape. These sophisticated inventory management systems have come a long way since their humble spreadsheet beginnings by incorporating innovative technology like AI into supply and demand planning to optimize data in real time, automate tedious tasks, and future-proof inventory planning. These modern inventory management systems quietly improve the operational efficiency of a business to ensure the right products, in the right quantities are available at the exact moment customers need them.

But how do you select the perfect inventory management software for your business with so many options in the market? The answer lies in understanding the features that define truly effective inventory management systems. Let’s get started and explore what separates the good from the great.

What to look for in inventory management software

Stock control and real-time tracking

Having a clear, real-time picture of your inventory across all locations can help keep your business running smoothly. Imagine the frustration of a customer placing an online order for a product you think you have in stock, only to discover it’s sitting on a shelf in another warehouse. Or worse still, it’s actually out of stock. Stock-outs damage customer satisfaction and disrupt your entire sales and supply chain operations.

This is why inventory management software is a must-have for modern supply chain businesses. It provides a bird’ s-eye view of all your stock, so you can see exactly how much of each item you have on hand at any given location. This level of visibility empowers you to pursue sales confidently by ensuring you have the right products in the right places. No more lost sales due to incorrect inventory levels!

Here are the features that make real-time tracking a reality:

  • Barcode scanning: Gone are the days of tedious manual stock-take. Barcode scanners seamlessly integrate into your inventory management software to easily capture accurate stock levels. Simply scan the barcode of an item and the system updates your inventory in real-time, eliminating human error and saving your team valuable time.
  • Point-of-Sale (POS) integration: Inventory management software ensures your sales and inventory data are constantly ‘talking’ to each other. When a customer makes a purchase, the inventory management software automatically deducts the sold item from your stock levels, ensuring your data is always up-to-date.

Netstock helps manage inventory by automatically collecting data from your ERP system.

Working with Netstock’s single-view dashboard you’re able to immediately see where you’re losing sales to stock-outs, potential stock-outs, and where you’ve overinvested in excess stock.

Comprehensive reporting and analytics

You cannot effectively compete in the global marketplace if your inventory management system is reactive rather than proactive. So, how do you make the switch? The true magic lies in the value hidden within your data. Sophisticated inventory management software goes beyond the basics with robust reporting and analytics capabilities that empower you to make informed decisions about your inventory.

Are you worried about a product line that isn’t selling? You can classify your stocked inventory to identify slow-moving items that might be dragging your bottom line down. In the same breath, you can easily see which products are selling fast. This can significantly improve your ROI by avoiding putting capital into low-velocity products and adjusting your purchase decisions based on these insights.

Here’s what you should look for in terms of reporting and analytics features:

  • Detailed reports: You should be able to generate a variety of reports tailored to your specific needs. Everything from sales reports, inventory valuation reports, and trend analysis reports should be a click away. You should be able to customize what you want included in your reports, so you can drill down into the data and gain a deeper understanding of your inventory performance.

With Netstock’s Report Builder functionality, you’re able to quickly create customized reports to support your business needs.

See Netstock’s Report Builder in action

  • Intuitive dashboards: No more spreadsheets! Inventory management software provides user-friendly dashboards that present key metrics in a clear and easy-to-read. These visual representations of your data allow you to identify areas that need attention at a glance.

Netstock’s dashboards are simple and easy to interpret, giving you a snapshot of your inventory whenever you need it to make data-driven decisions.

See Netstock’s single-view dashboard in action

Procurement and supplier management

Maintaining strong and mutually beneficial relationships with your suppliers is an important building block to a healthy, efficient supply chain. Effective inventory management software provides features that streamline your procurement processes and track key supplier performance metrics.

Do you hate how much time you spend creating and sending purchase orders? The right software can automatically generate purchase orders when stock levels reach predefined thresholds to save you valuable time and ensure you never run out of in-demand items.

The software centralizes supplier information, allowing you to track performance metrics like lead times and delivery reliability. Having this information on hand can help you make informed decisions about which suppliers to partner with and negotiate better deals.

Here are some key features to look for:

  • Automated purchase orders: Say goodbye to manually generating PO’s! Your inventory management software can automate the task to save you time and ensure accuracy.
  • Centralized supplier management: Keep all your supplier information in one place. The software should allow you to store and manage contact details, track performance metrics, and even collaborate with suppliers electronically.

Netstock provides advanced procurement management features, including the ability to set safety stock levels. This ensures stock is automatically replenished as soon as it hits your predefined threshold, helping you minimize supply and demand risk. Another handy feature is the supplier performance analysis which measures performance by planned vs actual lead times, along with other supplier KPIs. The system uses this data to build a risk profile for each of your suppliers and automatically adjusts the safety stock level depending on the rating.

Seamless integration with business tools

There’s no point in having fancy inventory management software if it can’t integrate with your existing business tools and software. The software is supposed to lighten the workload of your team, not add more to your to-do lists so you shouldn’t have to manually enter data into multiple systems. Good inventory management software should integrate with all your applications including accounting, CRM, ERP and even your e-commerce platform. This two-way data flow ensures that your inventory levels are always up-to-date across all systems to save you time and minimize errors.

Here’s how seamless integration benefits your business:

  • Streamlined operations: Integration creates a smooth workflow by eliminating the need for manual data entry, allowing your team to focus on more strategic tasks instead of being bogged down by admin.
  • Powerful reporting: Integration facilitates cross-functional reporting to take your operational efficiency up a notch. For example, you could generate reports that combine sales data with inventory levels to identify trends and make data-driven decisions about product pricing or marketing strategies

Netstock is purpose-built to integrate with over 60 leading ERP systems, automatically converting raw ERP data into predictive insights to drive confident supply and demand planning decision-making.

AI-Driven processes role in enhancing efficiency

Most business owners or department heads are burning the candle at both ends—there’s always something else to do and just not enough hours in a day to get it all done. What if a super-intelligent assistant of sorts could take some of your more tedious tasks off your plate? It’s all possible with AI-powered solutions! Inventory management software that features AI automation to automate repetitive tasks, keep your stock at optimal levels, and even predict future demand as it’s fed data from multiple sources.

Supercharge efficiency with automation

Are you tired of trying to find information in a mass of spreadsheets or spending many late nights number crunching? Manual tasks like data entry, order processing, and pulling reports eat into your team’s valuable time. AI-driven inventory management solutions can handle these tasks with lightning speed and greater accuracy, freeing up you and your team to focus on high-level tasks.

Smarter stock levels with machine learning

Have you ever found yourself in a position where you’re sitting with a warehouse full of slow-moving stock? Or worse still, you’ve run out of top-selling items and can’t fulfil orders. Both hair-raising situations will eat into your bottom line, so how can you avoid them in the first place? Machine-learning-powered inventory management software can help you optimize your stock levels by using machine learning algorithms to analyze historical sales data, identify trends, and even factor in external influences like weather patterns or upcoming holidays. This allows you to predict future demand more accurately than ever before to ensure you’ve always got the right amount of stock on hand to meet demand without overstocking.

Actionable insights with predictive analytics

AI doesn’t just do the boring number-crunching for you – it turns them into actionable insights to make better decisions about all aspects of your business. While humans are limited by time and cognitive ability, AI-powered software can analyze huge amounts of data to identify patterns and trends you might have missed. This can help your business thrive in so many ways. Identified a slow-moving product that you’re holding lots of stock of? Work with your marketing department to promote the item and inject capital into your business. It could also predict which products are likely to surge in popularity or even identify potential supply chain disruptions before they happen. This glimpse into the future empowers you to make strategic decisions about purchasing, marketing, and even product development to give your business a serious competitive edge.

The future of AI inventory management

As AI-driven software advances, supply chain businesses increasingly recognize its value in streamlining operations. Inventory management software, in particular, has made significant strides, now capable of predicting demand and adjusting ordering processes in real-time. While AI won’t entirely replace humans, integrating this technology for faster supply and demand planning can free up resources and time, allowing businesses to focus on developing new business opportunities.

Netstock is infusing AI technology into its supply and demand planning software with its latest feature: The Opportunity Engine.

Netstock’s Opportunity Engine utilizes inventory data from all locations and quickly identifies the most important issues that need to be addressed, along with a list of recommended actions to be taken. This helps prevent unnecessary business expenses and avoid stock-outs of items.

The Opportunity Engine not only suggests ways to improve but also lets users vote on suggestions, helping the engine learn what matters most to them and further tailoring its suggestions.

The benefits of the Opportunity Engine:

  • Optimizes existing inventory and reduces excess stock
  • Predicts potential stock-outs for specific products, prompting customers to expedite orders to prevent lost sales
  • Saves time by enabling quicker decision-making
  • Unlocks capital tied up in inventory

See Netstock’s Opportunity Engine in action

Specialized inventory management considerations

Inventory management isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. The needs of a clothing retailer will be vastly different from those of a car parts manufacturer. That’s why effective inventory management software offers a variety of specialized functionalities to cater to specific business needs.

Parts inventory management software

Does your business deal with hundreds or thousands of component parts? This can be especially tricky to effectively manage. A car dealership or electronics repair shop, for example, will need an inventory management system that supports keeping a close eye on stock levels for parts. Imagine the potential fallout of missing one component for a specific repair job and delaying your customer – you could lose out on the business altogether. Part inventory management software makes it possible for you to track individual parts within a larger assembly to ensure you have all the necessary components on hand to complete repairs or fulfill orders.

Warehouse vs. Inventory Management

Inventory management software encompasses the overall visibility into your stock levels, regardless of location. Warehouse management software, on the other hand, focuses on the optimization of space and processes within your physical warehouse. The good news is that many inventory management systems offer integrated warehouse management functionalities, allowing you to optimize warehouse layout, streamline picking and packing processes, and ensure efficient use of space. When inventory and warehouse management are working in tandem, you can achieve a level of operational efficiency that would have been impossible before.

The importance of choosing the right inventory management software

  • Improved inventory turnover rate: Avoid stockouts and reduce the risk of overstocking by ensuring you always have the right amount of stock on hand.
  • Organized warehousing: Inventory management software with integrated warehouse management functionalities helps you optimize storage space, streamline picking processes, and ensure your warehouse runs like a well-oiled machine.
  • Reduced costs: Effective inventory management software helps you cut costs across the board including labor costs, reducing shrinkage (lost or stolen inventory), and freeing up resources that can be reinvested in growing your business.
  • Enhanced operational efficiency: Inventory management software empowers you to make data-driven decisions and optimize your entire operation by automating tasks, streamlining processes, and providing real-time data insights. This translates to a smoother workflow, improved customer satisfaction, and, ultimately, a more profitable business.

Invest in your future with inventory management software

Having a firm grip on your inventory holding does so much more than simply preventing you from running out of stock – it can give you the strategic edge you need to keep making sales and staying ahead of the competition.

Are you ready to take your operational efficiency to the next level?

Invest in the future with inventory management software with Netstock!

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