Typically when businesses know they have an inventory problem, the next step is researching what inventory management software will best fit their needs, and that’s when the adventure begins. Researching inventory management systems can be difficult due to the wide array of options available. To help simplify the process, we created general categories that inventory management software falls into, so you can narrow the options and steer towards the right direction.
Serialization vs Bulk
In the most general category there is inventory management software that will help you track serialized items (when each item or box needs a specific identifier) versus bulk items (when each pallet or box only has a number of either identical or lower revenue per unit item to be tracked).
With serialization, a purchaser would buy a specific number of items that are often of higher value or appear similar yet have internal or feature differences, like how every computer has a specific serial number attached to it. For example, when you go to a big box store, each item is scanned and tracked to ensure the proper payment is made for its purchase as well as in case of return or an RMA for the manufacturer. These serial numbers give manufacturers and retailers the ability to reference much more data for each item than without serialized identification.
Bulk purchases contain items that are commonly of lower value or are generic in nature, like a network cable. Even though a network cable in most cases has a barcode, the barcode only associates the item itself with the larger identification as manufacturer brand cable. For this manufacturer, tracking each individual item is unnecessary because of the revenue created by each cable, so they track boxes, master cartons or pallets of cables instead.
Inventory management applications are often created to serve either serialized or bulk inventory scenarios since the differences are so fundamental, and understanding the differences between the two can be critical to the success of the roll-out.
Software Add-Ons vs Dedicated Inventory Management Software
Dedicated inventory management software is specifically tailored to the needs of the people who track inventory independent of a business’ finances. Financial transactions and inventory management are two business processes that don’t often overlap perfectly, so software designed for each process will be more functional.
Most financial software’s inventory add-ons treat financial transactions and inventory as the same thing. If in your business inventory processes perfectly correlate with financial processes, an inventory add-on can be adequate. Quickbooks is a good example of a software application that was built specifically for finance, and there’s an inventory management add-on that will track inventory from a financial perspective. Unfortunately, financial processes, like invoicing don’t always correlated perfectly with what occurs in inventory. QuickBooks inventory management will tether inventory counts to billing, regardless of what’s actually happening from an inventory movement perspective.
When businesses carry inventory that doesn’t perfectly sync with an item leaving a facility, it’s referred to as progressive billing. The invoices issued, the payments received and the items leaving the facility don’t happen simultaneously. Dedicated inventory management software allows for real-time inventory management and progressive billing.
Industry Specific versus Industry Agnostic
In an effort to develop relevant user interfaces that are easy to understand, many inventory management software solutions are created from the ground up with an industry’s specific needs in mind. Inventory management systems that are tailored to meet the needs of specific industries are typically very good at avoiding over-complication and providing features that address common workflows, but since these solutions are often created in a one-size-fits-all way, users often sacrifice flexibility.
Simple inventory managers aren’t always the same as “easy” and complex isn’t the same as “hard”. Ease of use is a design element that can be applied to robust, feature rich inventory management solutions.
Industry specific solutions often sell better within their niche since their messaging is tailored to a specific type of user, however they don’t serve their industry better than an industry agnostic inventory management software that’s designed to accommodate a wide variety of inventory workflows and can cross industries to maximize best practices in overall business. Inventory management software that is industry agnostic gives users the ability to leverage whatever features are necessary yet offer ways to enhance growth by learning where others have struggled and been able to overcome by updating workflows and processes. Each solution should be evaluated before they are used in order to see if the fit is right for your needs.
Test Drive Before You Commit
To decide which type of software might be more appropriate, businesses need to prioritize what features they need to have, what they’d like to have. TRXio is a dedicated inventory management system for any industry, designed with ease of use at the forefront. We provide a flexible 14-day free trial, so that you can see if it’s the right fit for your business’ needs.