The Real Deal about Cloud-Based Inventory Systems
You probably have made up your mind about investing in an inventory system despite the cost that held you back once. I tell you what your decision is right.
Inventory systems may be priced quite heftily, but they do wonders in terms of tracking your inventories, locating your items quickly and easily, restocking on time, and ensuring that you have accepted requests and orders only according to your inventory capabilities. Plus, they come with reporting and forecasting features that will help you keep that edge in the competition.
Now, to end up with the right inventory system, you have to be at least informed about which features are crucial and which can be worked on and improved.
As with the first concern, this entails picking the right inventory system according to the size of your business and assessing whether having a cloud-based inventory system is essential for your process or not yet. On that note, you may want to evaluate whether offline transactions are necessary or online presence is more viable.
1. A Guide for Choosing an Inventory System
An inventory system is a type of information system that enables you to monitor inventory items across the business’s supply chain.
It advances the entire spectrum from the placement of item request and order with your vendor up to the delivery of these items to customers (for retail businesses) or employees (for medium to large scale companies’ use) through automation and digitization such that the time-consuming and error-prone manual approach will be rid and replaced with an efficient and streamlined proposal.
At the core, a basic inventory system package should have the following essential features:
- Barcode labeling and barcode scanning
- Comprehensive Inventory Database wherein all information relevant to each item are stored and easily retrievable by authorized users
- Reporting Tools
- Inventory Level Forecasting
- Inventory Fluctuation Alerts
Other plus features of a sound inventory system include an accounting plug-in and ability of the system to control and synchronize inventories from different branches in the case of multi-branched businesses.
1. The Real Deal about Cloud-Based Inventory System
When searching for an inventory system, Google will suggest to you a plethora of options that can be noticeably categorized as desktop-based or cloud-based. What do these mean?
Information systems are either desktop-based or cloud-based. Under the first category, the business deploys the main computer whose internal hard-drive will serve as the centralized storage of all inventory-related data.
And then all other computers used will be connected to the internal network to gain access to the database. This means that the inventory system must be installed in all computers to function as designed, and data backup measures have to be regularly established to prevent data loss in case the main computer malfunctions.
Meanwhile, with a cloud-based system, the cloud, or also known as the internet, will serve as the central hub, and the data are automatically backed up and updated.
2. What else does a cloud-based inventory system offer?
To put, a cloud-based inventory system enables staff to use the system through any computer as long as it is connected to the internet. Moreover, it allows managers and business owners to have a better eye on the inventory levels even if they are at a different location.
3. What are the advantages?
a) Deployment Speed.
The installation that is required under desktop-based application is a hassle as the installation process has to be carried out on all computers deployed in the inventory area.
Meanwhile, with cloud-based, all it needs is for all the machines to be connected to the internet. Users will then need to sign up and sign-in on the official website to access and use the system. This ease of access enables companies both downwards and upwards mobility at a minimal cost and time.
b) Hardware Cost Savings.
If the inventory system is cloud-based, it allows owners to strategize on what hardware to invest. Cloud-based inventory systems can also be accessed through mobile devices as long as they are internet-connected.
Thus, owners can settle with a small number of desktop computers and invest more on mobile gadgets so that staff can easily update the records on the go. These gadgets can also be used beyond the company’s premises should managers want to stay in control even if they are not physically present.
c) Real-time Inventory Monitoring.
One great thing about having a web-based inventory system is how a business never misses a beat, especially amid peak seasons when inventory tends to sell fast. Moreover, business owners need not be in the office to gain a bird’s eye view of the stock.
All it needs is a smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop with a web connection to generate reports and decide on restocking promptly.
Compared to the manual approach where records are kept in paper, the automated inventory management facilitated by an inventory system significantly reduces clerical errors, which, if not addressed, can escalate and affect the overall decision-making of the company.
Efficiency, accuracy, data integrity, and overall system reliability are gained just by using an inventory system.
e) Improved Coordination.
With a cloud-based inventory system, it will be easier to work synchronously as the information is updated in real-time, no matter the distance differences.
The majority of cloud-based inventory systems are designed for multi-channel businesses where the inter-branch combination is necessary.
g) Enhanced And Convenient Scalability And Tech Support.
When problems arise, or requirements change, under desktop-based systems, the provider needs to go through the entire installation process again, which is time-consuming, inconvenient, and can cause an operational downtime.
Meanwhile, with a cloud-based inventory system, the developers can easily update the source code and deploy the new version on the cloud.
h) Automated Data Back-up.
Although owners do not get a hold of the transactional data, the system provider makes it a point to establish a regular data backup measure to prevent data loss in case unanticipated events take place.
One of the possible downsides, however, concerns the system’s DEPENDENCY. As businesses are inclined to depend on the cloud servers and when servers go down, that could mean operational downtime as well, which can hurt the market so badly.
This is why it is essential to consider all your options thoroughly. The provider you will choose has to be a reliable and reputable one if you want to get the best worth of your investment.