When people are doing their research before going into business for themselves, one of the first things they learn is how important it is to have an efficient inventory system. Most people have limited funds when they’re first starting out. A lot of them take advantage of the multitude of inventory system free offers available on the internet. Maybe you have some awesome one-of-a-kind handmade items that your friends keep saying you could make a fortune selling and you’re ready to see if they’re right. If you’d be happy with a dozen orders a week, you can probably get by using one of the simple inventory software free offers. If you’re storing all of your inventory in your garage, you probably won’t need to worry about going over the limits they set for the software to remain free. On the other hand, if you’re hoping to be able to earn a living with your business at some point, it will be well worth your while to investigate some of those inventory management software free trial offers. Experimenting with free trial offers is a good way to find out what features are available, and which ones you would need to combine to piece together the best free inventory management software system for your specific online business. With enough time, research, and a lot of trial and error, it’s possible to do that. The only problem is that if one part of the system changes, it can affect the rest of the system if all the elements weren’t designed to work together. Unfortunately, it’s often the case that competing companies deliberately design software NOT to play well with others.
While it’s possible, it’s extremely difficult to efficiently manage an online business with offline inventory management software. Most businesses that do so have an IT department for regular data backups, security upgrades, troubleshooting, and maintaining international standards. Using offline software requires you to be comfortable with making regular backups, protecting your data from viruses, upgrading software when needed, and reinstalling the software when an operating system is upgraded. Excel spreadsheets are one example of offline free inventory management software. However, as the benefits of online systems multiply, they are getting harder to find. If you type in “offline inventory management software free download”, you’ll quickly find that of the more than 6,670,000 results returned, very few are actually offline. Typing in “free inventory app” gets a whopping 146,000,000 results, but you’ll also find that many of the top results listed are identical to those of the first search. What offline software can’t do, and this is a very big can’t, is provide real-time inventory tracking. That’s what makes pick and pack and a host of other highly profitable inventory management strategies possible. A great inventory management software system helps you reduce shipping costs and increase both profits and customer satisfaction scores. It should also integrate seamlessly with multiple suppliers, shipping carriers, and storefronts.
Many people just starting out use software they already have to create and manage an inventory database. For example, there is some simple inventory software free with Excel. It even has an Excel inventory template with formulas that will allow you to perform basic operations like adding up your sales and expenses for the month or looking up sales figures for a particular month. That’s why three of the most often-used functions in Excel are SUM, SUMIF, and LOOKUP. If you want to learn how to create an inventory management system in Excel, they offer tutorials. Tutorials are a good way to keep your spreadsheets updated, since there have been several upgrades to the formulas since they were first introduced. For example, LOOKUP now has VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP options, depending on whether you want to look for something within a single column or within multiple rows and columns, which would be considered an array. If you’re comfortable with formulas, vectors, and arrays, and you have excellent data entry skills, you can probably get by using Excel’s small business inventory spreadsheet template. The key word here is small, though, because the more your business grows, the more difficult it will be to enter all the necessary data, especially without making costly errors. It would be like going to the gym, setting the treadmill at the highest speed for a short sprint, and then being unable to slow it back down to get off. Even Barbra Blackburn, who’s held the title of world’s fastest typist since 2005 with a speed of 212 words per minute, can only type so many twelve-digit UPC codes in an eight-hour day. What the free inventory management software in Excel lacks is barcode capability. Barcode scanning is what makes automation possible.
Just the fact that you’re using the internet to read this means that you’ve benefitted from open-source software. Open source is what encourages inventors and developers to build the Linux operating system and applications like the Apache Web server, used by 31% of internet users worldwide. It’s also used by some giants in e-commerce, like eBay and Etsy. Just type “free open source inventory management Github” into your search engine. Github is where the most talented and accomplished developers collaborate and postcode for exciting new projects. You will likely find the best inventory management open source currently available there. However, while open source is great for encouraging the development of new concepts in software technology, free open-source inventory management software can be problematic. One reason is that anyone can change it at any time. While changes most often result in improvements, what is an improvement for one business might be the opposite of an improvement for another. That’s especially true if that change makes your software incompatible with other software that your e-commerce business depends on to operate effectively. Open source software is often released with bugs that developers work out over time. People using it at no cost agree to take their chances. There are some chances in life worth taking, but risking the business you worked so hard to build to save a few dollars instead of investing in a secure system designed specifically for e-commerce isn’t one of them.
While a free inventory app for small business might not be a good long-term solution, a good one can teach you about what functions your business needs most. One of the most important reasons free inventory software for small business isn’t a long-term solution is that once your business reaches a certain number of sales, it’s no longer free. The fine print usually includes sales limits, limits on the number of customers, or both. Even the best free inventory app for small business isn’t scalable. That means you’ll either have to pay what they’re asking or find and learn a whole new system just when you start achieving some success. Most people choose the free option rather than investing in a comprehensive system from the start for one of two reasons. Either the sofware doesn’t have all the features they need, or it has a multitude of features they don’t need but would have to pay for to get access to the ones they do need. Researchers at Ordoro interviewed almost 100 small business owners about what features they needed most. They wanted to be able to:
- Create custom SKU’s and utilize barcode scanning to automatically update inventory in multiple locations simultaneously with every sale or purchase order filled
- Connect with and manage multiple suppliers, warehouses, storefronts, and shipping carriers from a single platform
- Use pick and pack list and bundling for greater control over inventory and to reduce shipping costs
- Print shipping labels either individually or in bulk to save time
- Data analytics to make smart informed buying and selling choices.
With that information, their developers set to work with the goal of creating the best inventory software for small business available today.
In addition to all the features listed above, they included a drop-shipping feature to make it easier for more people to go into business without having to make a huge investment in inventory. Ordoro software integrates seamlessly with all the e-commerce giants that people most like to partner with, like Shopify, Amazon, and eBay. They also added a feature that allows you to set automation rules that can send you an alert and create a purchase order when your stock reaches a certain level. There isn’t a single aspect of e-commerce that Ordoro doesn’t help small businesses automate and streamline for maximum efficiency in all the behind-the-scenes processes. They are so sure that they offer the best inventory software for small business that they offer lifetime support. They also offer a free 30-day onboarding process to show you exactly how to set up your automation rules to accommodate your specific business and reflect your personal priorities. Your sales figures can be automatically converted to easy-to-understand graphs and charts that allow you to see at a glance which items sold best, when, and where. There’s even an open API if you want to integrate your own custom app to make your business stand out from all the others. Having Ordoro working behind the scenes 24/7 to track and deliver your products gives you the time to spend getting to know your customers. Adding that personal touch creates the kind of enjoyable shopping experience that can turn a single sale into a lifelong customer.