Inventory tracking and management software enhances the efficiency of a business and thereby its long-term profitability. While small businesses may start with managing inventory using spreadsheets, rapid expansion and growth calls for a more robust stock management system that can adapt itself to growing volumes and complex day-to-day operations.

Advanced inventory management not only helps a business track inventory in real time, it also provides comprehensive end-to-end support in tracking purchase orders, sales orders, and vendor and customer relations.

Aside from logistical benefits, a solid stock management solution also offers financial benefits for a business. It curbs stock-outs, understocking and overstocking as there are now computers keeping track of inventory at different locations and sub-locations, which makes the process nearly foolproof. Therefore, buying a good inventory management system is like an investment for a small business that will give returns for a number of years.

Here are four ways tech-based stock management helps businesses achieve greater efficiency.

Point of Sale-based inventory tracking (PoS)

Point of Sale is the place where a sale is completed. For brick-and-mortar stores, the till is the point of sale. PoS software systems are the simplest tools to track sales and make inventory adjustments. As a customer buys a particular item, the system automatically reduces that item from total stock, thus allowing the user to have real-time information on sales trends, low stocks, fast-moving and slow-moving items, demand and supply trends and so on.

Standalone PoS software will alert the user of low stock levels for each item across product categories as and when it happens so that new orders can be placed in time and rush orders can be avoided. In fact, an advanced inventory management system comes with these features and much more, including the ability to automatically raise purchase orders based on order history. Such systems employ artificial intelligence to make intuitive decisions that make inventory tracking a breeze for small business owners.

Barcoding-based inventory tracking

Barcoding-based inventory control has been around for decades. It is easy to set up, as all that is needed is a barcode scanner and a simple inventory tracking program that’s easy to operate at the point of sale and at the warehouse. The team working the system scans the barcode of each product that’s sold (at the PoS) or shipped (from the warehouse).

Small businesses and startups that are just starting out often use simple PoS or barcode-based inventory tracking systems that are affordable and easy to deploy.

RFID-based inventory tracking

RFID or radio frequency identification system, which is extensively used across retail stores, helps a business track inventory with the help of tags attached to each product in the store. These tags contain microchips that are interconnected to other microchips in the vicinity. Controlling and tracking stocks is a tad easier with RFID technology when compared with barcode scanning as there is no need to scan each item individually. However, RFID-based stock management has its pitfalls. It cannot be used as a standalone system by large e-commerce companies. Instead, they require a clever, web-based inventory management solution that can do away with manual tracking as much as possible. Many e-commerce businesses, however, continue to use RFID alongside new-age inventory management programs.

Advanced inventory management solutions with integrated procurement tracking, sales order management and CRM

Progressive inventory control software combines all of the above features into one comprehensive cloud-based system that provides granular-level Inventory management help to retail and wholesale businesses. Such solutions are built on the latest cutting-edge technology and therefore cost more than the programs discussed previously.

However, with exclusive features such as in-built reporting and data management, tracking of payments and credits, vendor management, real-time auditing and a host of other revolutionary features, such systems are increasingly garnering a strong customer base among new entrepreneurs. The scalability and customization offered by some systems is also a key contributor to their success across industries.

If you’re looking for a high-tech inventory management solution that can adapt itself to your needs as your business grows and inventory volumes increase manifold—and if budget is a constraint—do your research and opt for an affordable system that’s designed specifically for small business owners. Many companies out there offer some great cloud-based inventory tracking solutions at affordable price points—just be sure to ask all the right questions before you buy a package and ensure that the system will meet not only your current needs but will stay relevant for many years down the line.