The more successful your ecommerce business, the harder it is to manage your inventory. It’s one thing when all your stock is lying around your home, but it’s another thing when it’s “lying around” multiple storage facilities with items coming and going at all times. And who’s going to update the stock levels on all your sales channels every time you make a sale?
For these reasons and more, online retailers rely on inventory management software to assist with these obstacles and fully automate the time-exhaustive tasks. But taking advantage of inventory management software has its own drawbacks — namely finding the one that’s right for you.
Although we favor our own ecomdash, we urge you to see what’s out there and make the best decision for your company. This guide explains how to find the best inventory management software for you by pointing out what to look for, specific to your company. Just review the 7 topics below to see which options benefit you most.
1. Single Channel, Multichannel, or Omnichannel
First, the best inventory management software matches the scope of your business. Smaller or more specialized ecommerce companies may prefer to stay on a single ecommerce channel, even if that channel is their own website. If sales are easily manageable, your company may not be ready for inventory management software just yet.
On the other hand, bigger and more ambitious brands will want to expand into other channels to reach new markets. Multichannel ecommerce, like selling on both Amazon and eBay, is when inventory management software helps the most — you can automate shipments and stock levels, and with the right software, even update all your product listings from one master copy.
If you want to sell both online and from a brick-and-mortar store, you’ll want to look into inventory management software with omnichannel capabilities. There are a lot of advantages to omnichannel selling, in particular targeting customers who don’t shop online.
How involved are you in shipping? Inventory management software can offer benefits like:
- Offer special discounts on postage — Some software partner with carriers to offer discounts; for example, Ecomdash offers discounts with Endicia, Pitney Bowes, and Stamps.com.
- Print shipping labels, packing slips, and pick lists — The right inventory management software makes it easy to print shipping essentials from anywhere.
- Track complex orders — Check the status on orders wherever they are, even if you’re using multiple storage facilities or 3PL services.
Of course, if you’re a dropshipper, you won’t be worried about shipping at all. Check out our section on dropshipping automation below for other features to look for.
Integrations are crucial for inventory management software — the goal is not to disrupt your normal operations. To continue using your preferred apps, channels, etc., make a list beforehand of all the necessary integrations you’ll require. Consider whether or not you’ll need an ecommerce API to connect with software that has not been officially integrated.
Take into account not only sales channels and site platforms, but also shipping services, digital/email marketing, analytics, social media, accounting software, and other sales tools like automatic repricers. For inspiration, check out the list of Ecomdash integrations.
How do you like to stay organized? Would a single, centralized dashboard help, or do you have your own personal methods of keeping track of everything.
One of the major appeals of inventory management software is that the good ones provide a consolidated content management system (CMS) that makes organizing your business more convenient. A good CMS will let you see sales data, review orders, edit product listings, and print shipping labels, all with minimal effort.
5. Dropshipping Automation
If you’re a dropshipper, you don’t have to worry about manually sending sales orders to your suppliers. Inventory management software can automate this process, and let you check the status of shipments any time in case your customers want to follow up.
Check to see if your inventory software can sync with your preferred method of receiving supplier’s inventory data, particularly SFTP/FTP or HTTP (and in CSV or TXT format).
6. Customer Service
Even if you like figuring out things yourself, at some point you’ll probably need to talk to a customer service rep. Make sure your inventory management software has adequate customer support, especially if you anticipate more than one question.
You may need to check user reviews to see which software has the best support, but also check if their availability and call hours suit you.
7. Forecasting and Predictive Analysis
Inventory management software is ideal for crunching numbers — sales data and stock levels are already calculated for you. Inventory analysis reports provide the data you need to make more informed decisions, from which products to feature on your home page to how much stock to preorder for the holidays. You’ll be glad you have it when it’s time to calculate the cost of goods sold for taxes.
Moreover, you can schedule notifications to alert you when stock is low so you know when to reorder. Just like other aspects, the more you sell, the more you have to worry about this, and it’s just simpler to set alerts in the same place you manage all other ecommerce business.
These alerts and more readily available analytics are much more cost-effective and time-efficient for software to handle, as opposed to doing them by hand.
Try One for Free — No Credit Card Needed
The only true way to decide if inventory management software works for you is to try it yourself, like a test drive. Why don’t you start with ecomdash’s 15-day free trial, no credit card required. You can use our software’s full suite of features and services and see for yourself how it improves your business.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published February 2015 and was updated in May 2021 to reflect more accurate and relevant information.