Running a small business has many rewards, and the opportunity to use the latest technology is often one of them. Technology in the retail and hospitality sectors has evolved so that cloud-based point of sale systems can handle an increasing amount of management functions, including inventory management. Inventory management software for small business, linked to your POS system, provides you with plenty of new, handy features compared to manual inventory methods like spreadsheets.
A modern cloud-based POS system comes with dozens of customizable features. One of the chores of choosing a new inventory system, or an all-new POS system, is sorting it all out and deciding how you want to use the expanded capabilities now available to you and which ones are necessary to you and which may not be. The first step is to take a look at the features commonly found in an inventory management system and what they do.
What Inventory Management Software for Small Business Can Do for You
There is more to inventory management than may meet the eye at first, especially when you have the power of cloud computing behind it. These are some of the most common functions and the ways you may choose to use them.
- Tracking. It’s worth stating explicitly that the most basic functions should be exceptionally convenient. Stock should be visible, counted, and searchable by a number of variables, such as category and item number. Stock counts should be maintained in real-time.
- Notifications. The system should be able to warn you when stock is running low and generate purchase orders when needed. The stocking of items to be held for pickup or other special handling arrivals should trigger notification as well.
- Restocking. This is an opportunity to save time and increase security over legacy inventory methods. You should be able to enter new stock into inventory easily and accurately. Items should be entered in real-time and you should have the option to enter bulk uploads. Prices on items should be updated at restocking.
- Scanning. Barcode scanners and label printers can save significant time at critical moments. A scanner can speed up checkout, and printing labels allows a retailer to reprice select items manually or attach additional information to items, such as QR codes with product information. Bluetooth technology eliminates the need for wires connecting the scanners and printers.
Product Variation and Bundling
- Variation. Without sizes, colors, styles, flavors, and other variations noted, inventory data are meaningless. Being able to access and sort this information quickly is a big benefit when planning sales, displays, and other in-store events.
- Bundling. Combining items to form new product categories is a common practice. This is especially true in restaurants, where specials of the day and other deals may be offered.
Shopping options are continually expanding. Your customers may be able to buy your products on social media, an app, or your website, in addition to in your store. Your inventory management and order management components have to interact to keep an accurate count as orders come in from different directions. Online ordering is easier to set up when your POS has built-in website integration, as troubleshooting is invariably necessary at the start, and your POS service provider can help you get started.
- Tablets. Cloud technology makes it easy for you to equip your sales or wait staff with tablets that can check the availability of stock or menu items from the floor. This will make service more efficient and also help them suggest add-ons or alternatives for out-of-stock items.
- Remote management. Another advantage of the cloud is the ability to monitor and manage inventory from any location using a smartphone or computer. This is particularly valuable if you have multiple locations.
Items that are subject to limited sales like happy hour or BOGO can be flagged and automatically price adjusted. This saves time and reduces errors from miscalculation. Other triggers for discounts might be loyalty rewards, order level, or combinations of items purchased, all of which should be programmable in the system.
Exchanges and refunds
This traditional problem area can be radically simplified with cloud technology. Even when you have multiple store locations and richly detailed policies on refunds, store credits, and exchange conditions, software can help you maintain a consistent policy that can be quickly implemented.
The unit you buy something in is not necessarily the same as the one you use for sales. You may buy an item by weight and sell it by the piece for example. This is common in restaurants, but might affect stores as well, especially if you bundle items. The ability to measure things the way you sell them, rather than the way you buy them, can improve stock counts and ordering, thus avoiding outages or wasteful expirations.
Many times, small businesses have less leeway for error in their marketing than corporate retailers do. Sound sales reporting and analytics are key to making good inventory decisions. The more ways you can slice and dice your data, the more insight you can derive from it. Look for:
- Daily, weekly, monthly breakdowns
- Sales by product, category, supplier
- Sales or voids by salesperson
- Discount and marketing campaign reports
- Tax information
- Lists of the people who interacted with the cash drawer
This information can be used to guide stocking decisions, guide staffing, and assess marketing efforts.
Choosing Inventory Management and POS Systems
The right inventory management software for small business is an important part of a POS system package. Taken together and used judiciously, these features are a powerful tool that can benefit your business through greater efficiency and reduced losses. A close inspection of the inventory management component is highly recommended before committing to a POS system.
talech provides state-of-the-art point of sale systems with specialized options for your type of business and customizable features for the way you do business. Our regular updates and excellent customer support ensure your efficiency and keep you on the cutting edge of retail management. You can sign up for a demo to see for yourself all the things that a talech POS system can do.