Let me just get this out of the way, every business that stocks anything should have inventory management software.

Honestly, if you have more than one shelf of goods (and you should), then a clipboard with a piece of paper on it just isn’t going to cut it. And what happens if that piece of paper is spilled on, ripped, or lost? There are so many options for software, and only you will be able to choose which one fits your needs best.

Here are some factors to keep in mind:

1. Cost: Look at the cost of the each option for inventory software. Now look at its features. Will you save more money than you’re spending on it? If there’s a monthly subscription fee (such as with a cloud service), take a few days to figure this one out. Many offer an ROI tool to help you figure this out.

2. Usability: Is this thing easy to use? Consider how technically savvy you are, and where your employees are at. It’s good practice to hold a training course to make sure everyone is on the same page–but if someone wasn’t 100% mentally there, is there even a possibility they’ll be able to figure it out later? What if you hire a new person? What if someone just plain forgets?

3. Established Credibility: I know, I know, you’re a small business owner and you want to support budding talent. But seriously, this is not the time. There’s nothing worse than having a program you desperately need crash, or glitch out, or otherwise not work.

4. Automation: Depending on your industry, you may want inventory management software that can partially or entirely automate the process of ordering new supplies. At the very least, it’s usually helpful to have pre-made commercial “grocery lists”–an automated notification when items are out of stock

5. QuickBooks Integration: In all likelihood, you’re going to be using QuickBooks for accounting. If you are, make sure that your inventory software can work with it. It will help ensure accuracy as you buy, sell, and ship products. If you don’t use QuickBooks, what do you use? Seriously, shoot us an email and let us know!

6. Multiple Locations: If you own multiple locations, plan on opening them, run a food truck, or want to access your inventory from multiple places, this is crucial.

7. Support and Training: You don’t know how to use this stuff any better than the rest of your team. Unless you’re super confident in your ability to figure it all out, make sure they offer training and ongoing support, or else you may be signing up for a future emergency. Now that you’ve learned the ABCs of inventory management software, remember to take your time and not to rush this decision. It’s something worth taking your time on.

About the Author

Paul Nugent is a small business advocate, and Head of Marketing at ShopKeep point of sale’s UK headquarters. Paul uses his background in the startup space, along with his POS system expertise, to allow small business owners to make informed decisions within their specific budgets.