What is Inventory Control?
Inventory control is a system that enables businesses to manage the number of products in their warehouses to minimize both stock outs and the costs of inventory held. To keep the items in stock, you need to know the number of available items, locations, and conditions. To keep inventory costs down, you need to identify the items that are least popular, most expensive items, or most costly to store.
What is Inventory Management?
Inventory Management has a broader scope than inventory control. Besides managing products and prices in the warehouse, inventory management requires you to know the supply chain and cultivate good relationships with your suppliers.
Practicing good inventory management means balancing time, place, and price about your inventory. To get the time right, you need to make sure your customer receives your product in a reasonable waiting period. To get the place right, you need to make sure your product is sending from the closest warehouse to your customer. To get the price right, you need to make reasonable pricing for your product, including the shipping fees.
Why Do You Need Inventory Management?
Inventory management helps e-commerce businesses keep track of their products so they can ensure a smooth experience for customers as well as optimize their supply chain management processes. By closely supervising the flow of goods from manufacturers to warehouses to end-consumers, you can reduce the risks of mismanaging your inventory, including overstocking, under-stocking, or overselling products. In the long run, this helps you save costs by preventing you from holding unnecessary inventory in storage and also secure more sales by ensuring you always have sufficient stock to meet consumer demand.
Top 5 Inventory Management Systems
Now that we've covered the importance of inventory management, let's dive into some of the tools that can help Shopify merchants successfully do it. In this section, we'll explore the best products available, their pricing models, and lastly pros and cons, so that you can identify which one is most suitable for your needs.
1. Stock Sync
Stock Sync is one of the most highly-rated apps on the Shopify App Store, with a current user base of thousands of Shopify merchants. This app facilitates the updating of your store's inventory automatically, the integration of your inventory system with external supplier inventory systems, and the synchronization of your inventory across all your retail sales channels.
Stock Sync has four different pricing plans to offer flexibility to its users so they can choose the best package for their needs. The most basic plan they offer is free, with the paid plans starting at $5 USD/month and increasing in features and support. They also offer a free 14-day trial with access to all the features across their packages so that you can test them out and see which one is right for you.
- This app can sync your inventory across all online sales channels (e.g. Shopify, Amazon) as well as physical stores
- You can manage stores with multiple suppliers feeds easily through one single app
- You can choose from affordable and flexible pricing options
- You can automate many workflows such as scheduling inventory
- Stock Sync doesn't offer any reporting or data analytics capabilities
- There aren't many integrations available for the app with tools outside of the world of inventory management
TradeGecko, now known as Quickbooks Commerce, is a versatile inventory management system that offers a multitude of features and functionalities to its users. This software is most notable for facilitating multi-channel inventory management, integrations with common eCommerce and accounting platforms, and advanced reporting capabilities all in one tool.
TradeGecko offers several pricing plans based on the number of sales orders your store has per month. The cheapest plan starts at $39 USD/month, with up to a 20% discount available for those choosing a yearly subscription. They also allow you to test out the full product through a 14-day free trial with access to all features.
- Supports integrations with a variety of external tools (see full list here!)
- Provides advanced sales reporting and demand forecasting capabilities
- Gives access to performance analytics and insights across different sales channels
- Offers automation and customization of workflows to optimize supply chain processes
- Can be come pricey if you have a huge number of sales orders per month
- The cheaper pricing plans are limited in their features
- As a Shopify merchant, you will have to subscribe to the 'Small Business' plan at the minimum to facilitate integration with Shopify (costs $199 USD/month)
3. Zoho Inventory
Zoho Inventory is an application tailored to meet all your order management needs and expand your business. Where you can record and manage your stock with Items and variants, you can:
- Document sales, send invoices, package and ship goods with Sales Orders
- Track the status of your shipments with Packages
- Create and manage purchase orders and bills to restock your inventory
- Generate real-time and multi-perspective Reports and connect with new markets with Integration options
Zoho Inventory offers a free option for businesses with one warehouse, two users, and 50 orders per month. With more warehouses, users, and orders, the paid option stats at C$89/ month.
- Very affordable and especially friendly to small business
- Easy to set up and customize
- Easy to integrate with other e-commerce tools
- Available on mobile to get real-time updates
- The customer support function needs improvements (e.g. hard to schedule a call)
- I could not import contacts from social media sites. (Only allows you to build your client details through inbuilt mail)
- Limited custom fields (50 per module). Have to raise the limit if more fields are needed.
BrightPearl is an inventory management software tool that offers automated multi-location and multichannel inventory tracking so that you can easily manage your inventory across a variety of channels. This tool also provides advanced business intelligence insights so you can learn more about your customer demands and product performances over time. Lastly, you can also integrate BrightPearl with many other commonly-used apps and services such as Paypal, Mailchimp, and Xero.
BrightPearl operates with flexible pricing models that scale with the size of your business. Although they do not provide specific pricing information on their website, you can easily request a quote to find out what price is appropriate for your business.
- Manage multi-channel and multi-location orders in one system
- Integrate your e-commerce tools, marketplaces, shipping, 3PL, and more
- Manage inventory, orders, warehouses, accounting, fulfillment, shipping, purchasing, suppliers, POS, and CRM all in one centralized system
- Leverage smart inventory demand planning & business intelligence capabilities
- Automate repeatable tasks
- No standard pricing packages available so hard to estimate cost of software
- Users have mentioned there is a lack of comprehensive reporting features
ShipHero provides two services, starting with warehouse management software for e-commerce businesses and third-party logistics providers or 3PLs looking for an intelligent and comprehensive cloud-based software solution to run operations.
ShipHero has several paid version starts at US$1,850.00/month depending on store connections and users.
Brand & Enterprise Plans include 10 connections - ($30/each)
All plans include 5 users - ($150/user) - Tiered discount available for 50+ users
- Very new user-friendly. Easy for new users to get started with
- Supports multi-channel and multi-warehouse inventory management
- Could manage inventories across multiple stores, warehouses, and locations
- Offers a mobile app. Users could view and manage inventory changes on the go.
- No customer reports
- Not available within Shopify admin control panel
- Very expensive
Make Your Life Easier Beyond IMS: Introducing Shypyard
When you integrate inventory management systems with Shopify, you will need to pay an extra amount of money to get the most out of it. For example, real-time carrier shipping is only available on the most expensive plans available on the market today. If you want to calculate and show shipping rates directly from your shipping carriers, it’s going to cost you a lot with Shopify. Besides, adding customizations is hard. If you are a merchant who needs to capture personalized information at checkout, such as text for engraving, you might get frustrated by Shopify. Adding custom fields involves either adding some code to your site or paying extra for a Shopify app that provides this functionality.
This is where Shypyard can come in and save the day. Based on this article, we can see that not many inventory management systems can be easily integrated with a wide range of external tools. In addition, you will rarely have the ability to customize workflows between all the apps and tools you use as a Shopify merchant. To solve this problem, Shypyard helps you customize your integrations and automations so that you can streamline your routine activities. They offer free consultations and flexible pricing plans starting at $0-40/month.