Imagine you have the nightmare job of organising your inventory. Up to this point you’ve catalogued everything by adopting a manual process so you’re looking at mountains of paperwork. You and I can both agree it would be much simpler and less time consuming having this data stored digitally; enter cloud based inventory management software.
The cloud based inventory management software industry is still growing and is expected to do so even further. A report from Data Bridge Market Research shows that “the inventory management software market will reach at an estimated value of 3.82 billion USD and grow at a CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of 6.12% in the forecast period of 2021 to 2028.”
Yet..would you believe that 46% of small to medium sized businesses are opting for a pen and paper method rather than adapting to a cloud based inventory management system?.
Switching up your inventory management processes to a digital platform will be beneficial to multiple aspects of your business. You’ll reduce the risk of human error as well as gaining back precious time spent doing manual tasks, increasing operational efficiency in the process. Keeping a close eye on what is needed ahead of time will also build a greater level of customer satisfaction, reducing the risk of unexpected stock shortages and delays to the customer.
There are many other benefits to bringing on a cloud based software, all you need is a willingness to grow, a little bit of patience and the desire to change.
Cloud Inventory Management Software: What Are the Benefits?
Are you spending hours managing your inventory with pen and paper or atop a mountain of spreadsheets? Perhaps you don’t even bother keep an accurate record and it’s driving you nuts! With cloud stock management software you can keep track of a huge area within your business that would otherwise be taking up countless hours of manual time.
My dad runs his own business and I remember being a lot younger than I am now, helping him out some weekends when I didn’t have any social plans. He would duck out to the back, grab a notepad and pen and start taking stock. Being a local business owner he has a fairly small space to store any inventory, that being said he still had to spend a good chunk of his working weeks organising this side of his business. I can only imagine the commitment that it would take if the circumstances were different across other business models. Here are a few ways in which adopting a digital inventory can help you.
With any new system the last thing you want is a painful, slow setup process. Thankfully, that isn’t the case with digital inventory software. With the ability to import specific supplier catalogues, group catalogue items together and assign materials to jobs with just the click of a button, it isn’t difficult to see the appeal of a digital inventory management system. Once you’ve been through the initial setup process, you can update your inventory as necessary, as well as set up alerts that will let you know when specific stock levels are low.
You can make your digital catalogue as succinct or elaborate as you wish, with groups and subgroups it's entirely up to you. One way of going through the initial process is to import all of your inventory using a predefined spreadsheet, this will then generate your digital catalogue once the import process is complete. You’ve now got your inventory blueprint which you can continue to manage.
Safe and secure
How many times have you been on a website and you don’t see the small padlock in the top left-hand corner of the address bar? Or you receive an anonymous phone call asking for personal details from a company you’ve never heard of? It sets off that internal panic where your brain starts questioning everything.
How have they got my details? What other personal details do they already know about me? Is this website secure?
With a cloud based system, there’s no need to save data in multiple locations or worry that any information will go walkabouts, as everything is backed up securely and remotely. Field staff can easily access this information as long as they have a stable Internet connection. This, in turn, will aid them in their day-to-day work and improve customer service. Your inventory will be stored within the cloud itself so if you need to make changes to your catalogue, the changes will be reflected in real-time. Having this added sense of security will give you peace of mind, in addition to not having to worry about losing track of a paper trail with reams of inventory data. Safety and security is such an important aspect of any business and you can be confident in the knowledge that company information is being stored securely.
Accessible data and analytics
Switching to a cloud stock management software system gives you further insight into any movement, changes, or updates to specific inventory items. This eliminates the risk of misinformation moving around the office with historical data at your fingertips. And you’ll have the ability to report on different aspects of your inventory, increasing the visibility and drilling down into specific sets of data.
It can be difficult to remember when to run specific reports with so many other moving parts within a business, that’s where scheduled reporting can help. You can assign a set frequency against a report, whether that be weekly, fortnightly or monthly, and the system will automatically generate the results based on the current live data.
It’s very likely that at some stage your business will grow and with that comes a responsibility to make sure new employees have the correct access and equipment to do their job, as well as ensuring operations are not affected. When inventory is stored in the cloud, it makes this process a whole lot smoother. There are no physical limitations restricting you from scaling with your business, you can adjust your catalogue as and when needed. Having a digital inventory management system will give you back the countless hours that you’ve previously spent scrolling through pages and pages of written data.
In addition, this will aid with supplier relationships as you no longer have to wait to be back in the office to check on specific inventory supplies. You can access the data within the cloud as long as you have a stable Internet connection.
Reduced maintenance costs
How many hours are currently spent cycling through paper stacks to determine what state your inventory is in? Are you constantly fixing mistakes made by human error? Take for example, completing countless hours of work, going to save the data and the worst happens. Your laptop crashes or you have a power outage. You’ve not only lost any inventory updates that you need, but you’ve also lost that time, and time equates to money. Whether you’re running your inventory management system through a physical server or dealing with a paper-based method, you'll save on maintenance costs by switching to a cloud based system. When you add up all of the hours spent trying to manually manage your inventory, you’ll spot a huge difference in just paying a monthly or annual subscription to a cloud based service. You won’t need to worry about spending money surrounding the physical aspects of your data and you’ll get real-time updates, which means there’ll be less room for human error.
It was reported by Paragon Software Group in a study carried out within small to medium sized businesses that one in five companies have experienced some form of data loss resulting in a significant impact to their business.
Using a cloud based inventory management system means your data is backed up continuously so even if the worst did happen, you wouldn't face any additional costs of retrieving misplaced or lost data. Minimising the risk of hardware failure and having that peace of mind that your data is safe and secure in the cloud cuts down on any additional costs should the worst happen.
Supply chain management in the cloud
Building a good relationship with suppliers can take time and being able to communicate seamlessly between businesses is essential to maintaining those relationships. You can make sure restock levels are set against specific items, meaning that if they fall below a certain threshold you will be notified to take appropriate action. Having the knowledge behind product distribution is key to maintaining profitability within your inventory. You can’t expect to have your eyes on every single item all of the time, and being able to set alerts in this way will help with supply and demand.
But it's not just inventory management that is made easier with cloud stock management software. Anything from raising a supplier invoice to purchase orders can be done using information stored within your digital catalogue. We’ve all been in those situations where you’ve got to sift through four or five different documents to try and find one piece of information, it’s time-consuming and takes up valuable hours that can be spent elsewhere. With your inventory being stored in one place rather than multiple locations, the next time you’re on the phone with your suppliers you’ll be able to accurately ascertain all of the information you need from one area. Not only does this save you time, but it also puts to bed that frantic scramble for paperwork!
Live stock updates
Do you want to improve customer satisfaction? Minimising the wait times for job completion can make that a reality with the introduction of a cloud based inventory management system. When you’re ordering a product online, the last thing you need is an enormous wait time or even worse, ordering a product you need ASAP only to get an email the next day saying:
We’re so sorry this product is currently out of stock. We will notify you as soon as it becomes available and send a dispatch email in due course.
Perhaps it was a gift for your niece or nephew or a specific product you’ve been waiting months for–whatever the circumstance long wait times are a big turn-off. An inventory management system enables you to check exactly what you have on hand, in real-time, so you can best advise your customers with a realistic expectation of when the work can be completed. Field staff can check their own specific storage devices, such as a work van, to see what they’ve got stored which will assist in streamlining that customer journey.
Cloud based inventory management can give you real-time insight into what is moving in and out of a business with a level of detail that can’t be maintained when done manually. Certainly not at the same speed. If you’re like me, how many times have you left the house only to get halfway to your destination and realise you’ve forgotten something? Having less of a physical restriction will save you from that panic. Taking a look at your inventory from anywhere is made simple and stress-free. Reports that you run will be based upon the information within the system, giving you the ability to analyse and extract sets of data from anywhere at any time.
Having all of this information at your fingertips is invaluable to streamlining your inventory management process and getting back hours of time to focus on other aspects of your business.
If you’re hesitant about making the leap over to a cloud based inventory management software package, check out the video below for further details: