Free Inventory Management
Free inventory management sounds like a great idea. If there is no cost, it must be quite economical. It is possible to get free inventory management, but it often comes at a heavy price. We get what we pay for, and inventory management is no exception to this rule. There are many hidden costs that come with attempting to implement a free inventory management system.
Let’s go down the list of three free inventory management systems that you can use in your business, and we will discuss each one’s strengths and weaknesses. That way, you can see whether or not these are a good idea to consider.
First, we will talk about spreadsheets. Microsoft Excel is a great tool for organizing information and storing it in a comprehensible manner. An inventory management spreadsheet can be used to store inventory data, including details on vendors, reorder points, quantities in stock, quantities to reorder, and more. A small business can use a spreadsheet to handle much of their inventory information because their inventory management requirements are fairly small compared to medium-size businesses and larger enterprises. It is possible to manually update inventory quantities when items are sold, scrapped, or used and when new orders are received into the warehouse.
There are several key disadvantages to this system. First of all, someone usually has to create the spreadsheet from scratch. Someone will have to decide what information to store and how to best format it. And that person will most likely be in charge of managing the spreadsheet and keeping it constantly up to date. Since it was informally set up, there will not be any in-depth notes or other written documentation on how to use the spreadsheet or the creator’s intent when setting it up. What happens when that individual gets sick, takes a vacation, or leaves the company? It could prove extremely difficult to find someone who can piece together exactly what was in the original creator’s head when navigating the spreadsheet.
Another potential problem is data security. Spreadsheets are not exactly well known for their security features. It is possible to set up passwords to protect workbooks and prevent unauthorized changes, but once a change is made and then the spreadsheet is saved and closed, it can’t be easily undone. In fact, it is virtually impossible to tell who made the change, so it may not be practical to track down the person who did it. If anything improper happens to the data in the spreadsheet, it can cause serious problems and be difficult to fix and prevent in the future.
And finally, it is easy for errors to be made when typing numbers into a spreadsheet. Excel can’t be automated to instantly accept new inventory numbers from e-commerce solutions or other sources. The spreadsheet has to be updated manually each time a change is made to the inventory quantities. This opens up the possibility for major and minor typos to creep into the spreadsheet and create big trouble. You might think you have more or less inventory than you actually do, which can cause you to make the wrong reordering decisions, leading to either stockouts or overstocks.
2. Pen and Paper
The second free inventory management system we will consider is a pen and paper. Under this system, you do not use a digital means of saving inventory data, but you simply write it all down on a piece of paper. This is a fast way to record inventory figures because you do not have to be tied down to a desktop computer, but you can make changes from anywhere in the warehouse. With the wave of a pen you can cycle count your inventory, perform picks, and place orders.
Now let’s talk about some of the problems with managing your inventory in this way. If you thought the security of Excel spreadsheets was a little dicey, just wait until we talk about the security concerns surrounding a paper-based inventory management system. There is no password protection for a piece of paper. If it is left out in the open, anyone can see it and make changes to it at will. There is no way to ensure its numbers are accurate, but you must rely on the honor of your employees and anyone else who visits your warehouse. You can store the piece of paper in a safe, but that will make it a little more time consuming to retrieve it when it is time to update its numbers or check what is on it.
Papers get lost or damaged. What if the paper accidentally gets tossed out or it gets wet and the water smudges the ink or if it gets dirt or grime on it, rendering the data on it illegible? Any number of things can happen to prevent you from using that paper to manage your inventory. What will you do if something happens to it? That would be a serious disaster.
Obviously, there would be no chance of integrating a piece of paper with your accounting software or with a shipping solution or anything else that is digital. You would have to enter the numbers once onto the piece of paper and then again into every digital system you have in place. If you make a mistake in the course of all of this double data entry, you will have inaccurate numbers and ones that do not match up across the board.
The third free inventory management system involves relying upon your memory. This may be possible for really small businesses that are just getting started. But think about it. If a number escapes recollection or if there are any discrepancies between what is in a warehouse manager’s mind and what is actually in a warehouse, the consequences could be disastrous. It’s better to let all three of these free inventory management systems become a distant memory as you move up to something much better.
Free Inventory Management
Free yourself from the constraints of these free inventory management systems by making the leap to Boxstorm®. Boxstorm® is a cloud-based inventory management solution that is available for an affordable price. In fact, you can even sign up for a free trial of the software, so it starts out completely free anyway!
Boxstorm® is available on any device, so you can simply open a Web browser on your desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, and you can access the solution. Boxstorm® offers top-notch security so you can tell who makes changes to the numbers in the solution, and you can limit access to the software with user logins and user rights. It ensures that nothing gets forgotten or overlooked when you set up automatic reorder points on all of your inventory items. Errors can be easily spotted and rectified. Plus, Boxstorm® integrates with QuickBooks Online to automatically push inventory quantities to the accounting solution, eliminating the need for double data entry.
Try Boxstorm® today and discover all of the ways that this inventory management solution actually costs you much less than any free inventory management system ever could.