No matter what the size of your business is – inventory management is no easy task. Not only do you have to keep an eye on all your stock, but you also have to manage tons of equipment, streamline processes across multiple areas, and ensure your organisation doesn’t lack for any given aspect.
If you are a business that relies on traditional inventory management tactics like a periodic inventory management system and an on-site inventory management software, then inventory management can quickly become very chaotic for you. This is especially true if you are dealing with multiple channels, warehouses, and types of stock.
However, if you have cloud-based inventory management in place, then you can easily manage all of this. Cloud inventory management can help you streamline asset management, avoid time wastage, and ensure smooth operation of all the important parts of the supply chain.
In this guide, we will take a look into what cloud-based inventory management is, why it’s better than its alternatives, and how you can ensure that you are choosing the best cloud-based inventory management software for your business.
Before we get to understanding why cloud-based inventory management is the right option for all businesses operating in today’s day and age, it is important to look at what inventory management is to begin with.
In the most simple of terms, inventory management is the process through which you handle your stock and stay in track of your inventory activity. A streamlined inventory management process can help you cut down on costs, manage your orders, prevent theft, prevent loss, and refine all your communications with the supplier.
There are many ways you can implement adequate inventory management in your operations. Most commonly, however, businesses opt for an inventory management system software to manage everything, and there is a good reason behind this.
So, why pick an inventory management system software over manual inventory management? Well, mostly because end-to-end automation of your warehouse and inventory will help you save time, make your processes more effective, and hence create a better customer experience for your audience.
Although manual inventory management can be a good option for businesses that are just launching or those that plan to stick to small-scale business activity for a few years, it is simply not an option if you are a larger establishment or a business that is exploring opportunities to upscale their operations. This is because the more you expand and bigger you become in terms of your establishment, the more layered your supply chain and fulfilment process as a whole becomes. This renders manual inventory management insufficient, and hence you need to shift to an automatic inventory management system.
An inventory management software is more or less a necessity for all businesses today, considering the sheer amount of competition you have to undermine in order to make a name for yourself in the market. By integrating your warehouse and inventory with end-to-end automation, will not only be cutting down on costs but also ensuring that the workplace productivity is up to the mark with industry standards and that you are delivering the highest quality products to your customers with lightning-fast speed.
Now that we have made the case for automated inventory management, let’s look at why you need to invest in cloud-based inventory management in particular:
If you are even remotely familiar with software solutions for inventory management and warehouse control, you may know of cloud based technology. Businesses who rely on cloud based technology for these aspects of their operations don’t only experience a reduction in expenses, but also watch other areas of their business such as HR, sales, and marketing benefit from this sort of software.
But what is cloud based inventory? Essentially, cloud based inventory management refers to the kind of system that is not-device oriented. In saying that, we mean that using a cloud based inventory management system, you can easily access your data remotely as well. Not only that, but cloud based technology also helps you track your inventory in real time, and provides you with instant updates.
With cloud based technology, all it takes for you to manage hundreds of inventory processes is a one-click login. One click, and you have reports, history, and all other records available to access. Surely, this sort of efficiency is something that all businesses yearn for and hence, an integral part of any organisation. The efficiency is also one of the biggest factors that makes cloud based inventory management a better option than manual inventory.
As one can tell, this sort of a setup is beneficial because it improves productivity and allows you to be in touch with the happenings of your warehouse and inventory throughout your journey. Not only that, it also enables you to increase your profitability standards and make it easier for you to expand your business.
Now, we know you must be wondering if everything is automated in the inventory management realm, then what’s the need for workers? Don’t get us wrong – your workforce is still your more important asset. It’s just that with a cloud based system, your staff’s job becomes more strategic, and can even bring more benefits to the table for the company.
Another great benefit of cloud based systems is that these help you eliminate stock error and discrepancies. As any business would know, the smallest of mistakes in your records can lead to a monumental loss, which is why it is important to ensure 100% accuracy of all your business operations. With the help of such software, you can make sure that you are well-equipped in today’s fast-paced business environment.
All in all, a cloud based inventory management system software brings more value to your company processes. If you use it properly, it will enable you to create a system for your customers that is truly awe-worthy and you will see an undeniable improvement in your inventory management processes.
In order to understand how a cloud based inventory management system can benefit you, it is important to take a look at some important features that a cloud based system is likely to have. The actual features of the cloud based inventory management system will vary according to the actual software. However, it is indeed safe to say that all good inventory management software, especially those tools that employ cloud based technology and more than likely to share the following features:
Forecasting is an important aspect that an inventory management cloud based software offers. It enables you to gather helpful data – but not only that. Any good cloud based inventory management system will also help you make sense of this data, meaning you will be able to convert it into comprehensive reports that help you understand your business activity better and make data-backed, effective decisions.
With the help of this data and these reports, you can forecast the trajectory of your business a lot better. Whether it is predicting customer reaction to a certain product or estimating customer demand in general, forecasting tools that come with a cloud based inventory management system are very reliable and will help you navigate these things better.
As we mentioned earlier, a cloud based inventory management system is indubitably the best bet for you if you are planning on expanding your business beyond its current borders. This is because it is only with the help of multichannel support.
Multichannel selling is a business model that many ventures rely on to increase their sales, build a stronger customer base, and make business expansion easier. Essentially, a multichanneling business model means that you are selling your products across different channels. This could include 3rd party platforms such as eBay, Amazon, and AliBaba, but it also incorporates social selling and supplying your products to another brand.
A good inventory management system, especially a cloud-based software solution, will provide you with multichannel support so that scalability is not only an option, but also almost deceptively easy! Whether you are a retailer, manufacturer, supplier, or ALL of these things – a cloud-based inventory management will help you expand your operations and take care of your clients across every single platform.
Perhaps the best thing about a cloud based inventory system is that it’s multi-purpose. So, not only do you get to improve your inventory management processes, but you also get to streamline your processes across other areas such as warehouse management, order management, and labour management. So, a cloud based warehouse inventory management system is the ultimate answer.
A good software solution will help you improve your business as a whole – which is why it is a holistic solution. As opposed to manual inventory management systems, a cloud based inventory management system is meant to make your business grow in every aspect, not just in one. Therefore, multi-purpose tools and features are something you should definitely be on the lookout for when it comes to picking your cloud based warehouse inventory management system.
One aspect that adds a layer of complexity to inventory management is the purchase process on your end. Whether you are purchasing complete goods from a manufacturer, or buying raw materials or spare parts from a supplier for your own manufacturing process, knowing what to order and when to order it can be quite tricky.
A good cloud based inventory management system would make this easier for you by offering tools that help you purchase and replenish stock automatically, without you having to put in unnecessary effort. This means that you don’t have to worry about stock outs or having excess stock ever again! If you are looking to incorporate JIT inventory management mechanisms in your operations, this would make doing that easier as well.
Thanks to replenishment tools provided by most of the cloud based inventory management systems out there, your relationship with your supplier is also unlikely to take a turn for the worst.
In order to ensure that your operations are strong enough to help you outshine your competitors, you need to make sure that your inventory management processes as well as other aspects of the overall fulfilment procedure comply with industry standards and controls.
A good inventory management software that utilises cloud based technology will help you do that – no questions asked. Therefore, when looking for the right features on your cloud based inventory management system, try and look for an option that can be configured in accordance with changing trends and protocols of your industry.
Just because an inventory management system is based on cloud technology doesn’t mean it has to be so complicated and technical to understand that you can’t make use of it on a daily basis. In fact, one of the most prominent distinguishing factors of a cloud-based inventory management system is the very fact that it is easier to use, and doesn’t require you to cross miles in order to make sure that you are employing it in a way that actually leads to an effective change to your inventory.
Ideally, a cloud based inventory management system would be quite easy and straightforward to use by you and the rest of your staff. Good inventory management solutions always come equipped with extra help such as user guides which make the other features even more accessible for you whenever you like. If you have a small set up, then look for a cloud based inventory management system for a small business that is not too complicated to understand.
Some other capabilities the best cloud based inventory management system will offer you will include inventory optimisation, on-time notifications, and multi-location functionality. However, one aspect that you really need to check off before you invest in a cloud based inventory management system is the kind of integrations it offers.
Ideally, your cloud based inventory management system should offer you top level integrations with platforms such as Amazon, eBay, FedEx, and Magento. However, this will vary from software to software. What you should ensure is that these integrations actually help you with your operations and make things easier for you.
A cloud based inventory management system is only as good as the hardware capabilities it offers. This is not an exaggeration – it is actually true! If your inventory management system does not allow barcode scanning, you are seriously setting yourself up for disaster as it is one of the main ways to distinguish between products and execute mass sorting of all your stock.
Although not as popular as barcode scanning, RFID is also technology that can help you with the task of organising your stock. If you are future-proofing your business and your warehouses, RFID technology is definitely something you should look into and aim for your cloud based inventory management system to help you manage. This shouldn’t be too hard, since almost every other cloud based inventory management system for small business comes equipped with these solutions.
Just a look at the features provided by cloud based inventory management systems can help you understand why such software solutions are a must for your business. Yet, let’s have a look at all the benefits a cloud based inventory management software can provide you:
As compared to an on-site inventory management system, a cloud based solution is a lot more accessible. Remember that an in-house solution means that it needs to be installed on every device on the premises. This means that there will be no mobile support, and if you want to view anything on the software you will have to access it on the devices on-site. Needless to say, in today’s day and age, this is not feasible and instead of making things easier, would unnecessarily complicate things for you.
A cloud based system is definitely better in this regard, because it does not rely on any devices for its functionality and instead, makes use of the internet to store all your data, which means that you can access the main features and information about your inventory from anywhere in the world. So, essentially, you make sense of your inventory not only on desktops on-site, but also on smartphones, tablets and any other mobile devices.
This equips you with a 360 degrees view of everything that is going down in your inventory, and hence helps you make smarter decisions. It also means you can feasibly avoid shrinkage problems such as theft, damage, and spoilage – because even if you are not physically on-site, your cloud based inventory management system will ensure that you are still keeping an eye on what goes down in your warehouse.
Continuing where we left the last point, security is quite an important element for any business. If you are looking to invest into a cybersecurity mechanism, a cloud based inventory system is a good option because it gives you cybersecurity perks as well as inventory management tools – so it can help you with both the things. If you go for a manual inventory management mechanism along with a separate security tool, you are signing yourself up for unnecessary expenses.
Although a cloud based inventory management system has its server outside of your control, it can prove to be a lot safer than an on-site system. This is because ultimately, your data is your software company’s job to prevent data breaches and to ensure that none of your information is compromised. Most companies are very serious about this aspect and would never sign themselves up for a potential lawsuit, which is why the level of security they promise their clients is unlikely to be compromised. They invest in security personnel as well as secure system configurations, which is why businesses who rely on a cloud based inventory management system rarely have to worry about any of these problems.
Most companies opt for an in-house system as opposed to a cloud-based inventory management software because they think that just because they have more control over the solution physically also means that they control the costs they incur from these processes. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! In fact, an in-house inventory management system brings a lot more expenses than an outsourced, cloud based system.
This is mainly because the responsibility of maintaining your servers is completely yours.NOt only do you have to make sure that each device utilising the app has the correct updates, but in case of anything going wrong, you wouldn’t have help readily available. Of course, you can call in experts and engineers to help you fix the problems, but this is quite a long and tiring process.
In contrast, a cloud based inventory management system is easier to manage because most companies that offer such a software solution also make sure that you have 24/7 customer and technical support available to you. All you need to do is make sure that member of your team is in point of contact with the support team provided by the software house. This way, you can ensure constantly that there are next to no discrepancies in your system and that in case anything does go wrong, you can get professional help without any heavy additional costs.
Since a cloud based inventory management is fully automated, it leaves considerably less space for human error. Now, this isn’t to say that nothing can go wrong in a cloud based inventory management system – it can, but very rarely.
The point is that when you are not so heavily relying on your employees to do everything and instead, are empowering them with the right tools and technology to do an even better job, you are creating a better culture within your organisation. You are also ensuring that there are no oversights in regards to stock handling.
There is less space for human error also because all the stakeholders involved in the fulfilment procedure – whether it’s you, your employees, your manufacturer, or your shipping agency; everyone gets real-time updates on the stock, which means that everyone has a pretty clear outlook of inventory activity, and can act accordingly.
One huge advantage that cloud based inventory management solutions have over manual and on-site systems is that they can help you form and understand your business story. Since you have a record of everything: from the tiniest little spare part you’ve brought to the best-selling product that has brought you millions in revenue, you have in-depth information on each and every segment of your stock.
It helps you not only handle your stock levels better, but it also helps you refine other aspects of your business such as marketing and sales. For example, when you have the right historical data available, you can easily identify which products need your marketing efforts and resources. You can then create your marketing and advertising campaigns around this information, and it will enable you to hit just the right spots to increase your sales of the particular product.
It can also help you understand where you are lacking in terms of your organisational structure, and make changes in those areas to ensure that you are not investing in the wrong place and are actually spending only in places that need it.
Ultimately, a cloud based inventory management system puts you in charge of your data and then enables you to make decisions that actually contribute towards the success of your business.
Inventory management can be long, boring, and complicated. However, it certainly doesn’t have to be. If you are still stuck with manual inventory management software, then it’s time that you change it, because chances are that it is holding you back.
With a cloud-based inventory management system, you can actually invest in a software solution that makes everything easier. Whether it is in terms of money, customer experience, or employee satisfaction, a cloud based inventory management software is good news overall. Yet, you must ensure that the inventory management system you choose is not only cloud based, but also offers some very specific features that we have discussed at length above.
If you are looking for a reliable cloud inventory management system, check Canary7 out! It is the best cloud based inventory management system if you are looking for a solution that also helps you with warehouse management, order management, and labour management. It is aimed at helping you improve each and every aspect of your business, not just inventory management.
One of the best things about Canary7 is that it is easy to understand and customer-oriented, so all your queries and doubts are promptly addressed and dealt with.
You can book a free 30-min demo before you commit to our custom-built inventory management and fulfilment procedures.