Cloud-based Inventory Management
Cloud-based inventory management is a way of tracking your inventory via a Web browser on virtually any mobile or desktop device. We will discuss the many benefits of cloud-based inventory management by comparing and contrasting it to desktop inventory management.
Cloud vs. Desktop
You can find many inventory management solutions on the Web today. Of all the choices you have to make, the first one you must make is the option between cloud-based and desktop solutions. There are pros and cons to using either option, and it’s important to be educated as you choose the best fit for you. Web-based solutions offer more accessibility, no matter the device or the location. While not widely accessible, desktop or in-house software grants you more control and potentially even more security if you are willing to make the right investment. If you have a powerful Internet connection and well-run servers, you can run the software as fast as you’d like. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of both.
An in-house software solution requires the system to be installed on all individual desktop computers that you want to access it on, or it can be installed on a central server and made available via your network. This is how many companies still operate, but there are limitations to this setup. Your system cannot be accessed on mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets because the client and server are not able to be installed or accessed on mobile devices. It also cannot be accessed outside business hours unless employees have the software installed on their home computers.
On the other hand, Web-based inventory management software can be accessed anywhere and on any device. The actual system is accessed via a Web browser and no separate installations of servers or clients are needed. This is often much easier to set up and to manage if you have multiple locations or if you have employees who need to access the system on the go, on vacation, or when they are otherwise outside of the office.
If a business is willing to invest in cyber security personnel and a tight infrastructure, it can have a very secure system. It can also have full control over its hardware, servers, and data. All of this is part and parcel of a desktop inventory management solution. Something we will discuss later is how expensive this can be.
A cloud-based inventory management will have its server’s location offsite and out of your control, but the security will likely be top notch. The software company cannot afford to allow any kind of data breach because it is their job to prevent such things as it takes care of businesses’ data. To prevent data breaches, they invest heavily into security personnel, systems, and server configurations. In-house solutions used to have the advantage here, but software companies put so much emphasis on protecting their servers and customer data that they are often more secure than desktop solutions. Small-to-medium-sized businesses usually cannot afford the personnel and infrastructure needed for adequate security.
The software speed depends almost entirely on a company’s computer equipment, Internet bandwidth, and server speed. A large company with deep pockets may be able to pay for the best servers and top Internet speeds. However, small-to-medium-sized businesses often cannot afford this same luxury. Fortunately, cloud-based inventory management solutions often have state-of-the-art servers, as they know software speed is a vital part of maximizing customer satisfaction.
There are obviously going to be more costs with an in-house system than there will be with an outsourced one. You need to maintain your servers and coordinate updates on all desktop machines that have the software. This can be an exhaustive and expensive process. Cloud-based inventory management software requires no in-house maintenance, as this relies solely on the third-party software company. You will need an employee to be a point of contact with the software company when there are issues in order to work directly with software support, but no direct maintenance of equipment on your end is needed.
The cost of an inventory management solution can depend on how robust the software is. Advanced ERP/Inventory Management systems for large enterprises can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to license and maintain while more economical systems can be obtained for a one-time fee or an annual fee ranging from the hundreds to the thousands of dollars. Most cloud-based solutions follow the SaaS (Software as a Service) model and charge a low recurring monthly fee. This fee can vary a bit depending on what software features you need and the number of users you wish to have access to the solution, but SaaS models are often more economical and affordable than any other option, as support contracts are basically built into the price.
As you can see, there are pros and cons to having an in-house or cloud-based inventory management system. For small-to-medium-sized businesses, SaaS solutions have become much more popular than other solutions because of their affordability and flexibility. For larger companies, an in-house solution may make more sense than a SaaS solution, because most SaaS systems are too limited in their features to handle heavier loads. Know what your needs are and choose the right fit from there.
A Cloud-based Inventory Management System
Boxstorm® is a cloud-based inventory management system that gives you the best of all of the criteria mentioned above.
Accessibility: Boxstorm® is accessible on Android and Apple smartphones and tablets. Plus, you can open it on virtually any desktop computer or laptop with an Internet connection.
Security: Only authorized users can access Boxstorm® through their user logins and passwords. Administrators can even limit the modules they can open and change when they are logged in, and the solution tracks every change made by users to ensure accountability.
Software Speed: Boxstorm® is specifically designed to load quickly and be compatible with any Web browser and device.
Maintenance: You will find constant updates to Boxstorm® as the solution continues to add new features throughout the year. But you will not have to update anything on your side; all of the changes are automatically made to the solution.
Cost: Boxstorm® is available on an annual basis of $69 per month for the first user plus $15 more per additional user. It is also available on a monthly basis for $79 per month for the first user plus $20 more per additional user.
Get a free trial of Boxstorm®’s cloud-based inventory management solution today to see how it can work for your business!