Getting started

Inventory systems: when to take the leap?

BY Steven Fernandez 6 Nov, "12

Your warehouse just burnt down, now what? For businesses with an inventory management system, it’s a matter of simply replacing the stock. For businesses without inventory management, it’s a matter of not only replacing the stock, but also rebuilding all the data and processes core to the day-to-day operations.

Many small businesses struggle to decide when to implement an inventory system. The time to invest in inventory software and establish an effective stock system will differ depending on the situation of your business, but here are a few things to think about if you’re wondering when to take the leap.

Don’t worry about the existing inventory system.

Don’t let an existing vague or confusing way of managing stock put you off getting an inventory system. Many small businesses are under the false pretence that they can’t get an inventory system until they get their stock in order. Not true. The whole point of an inventory system is to manage the way you count, store and shift your stock, so don’t let a few messy books stop you from implementing one. Most inventory systems will totally redesign the way you manage stock anyway, so don’t get too caught up on what you’ve done in the past.

The sooner the simpler.

Think about where your business is today and where you hope for it to be in the foreseeable future. Will spreadsheets and registers cut it for the next twelve months? For most SMEs aiming to grow the answer will be NO! You may grit your teeth at the thought of having to set up an inventory system now, but think about how much worse that process will be when your business is double the size. Inventory systems are smooth sailing when they’re up and running, but can sometimes have a rocky start. Finding your feet before things expand will make life a lot easier down the track.

Introduce new stock systems during quieter periods.

You should implement an inventory system during a quieter period in your business cycle so you have time to get used to the new system. Identify the eye in your storm so you and your staff can spend the necessary time setting up and becoming familiar with the software. Research shows that it takes the average person around three weeks of repetition for a behaviour to become habitual. Think about when you can allocate this time frame so your staff are at a stage where they use the inventory software instinctively. Remember people are a big part of inventory systems, so the more time you spend on helping staff understand the system the fewer problems you will have during the busy months.

When is the best time to move to an Inventory Management System?

The answer in short is now. The tips above should get you thinking about ways you can smoothly incorporate an inventory management system into your business, but if you’re still in doubt then your best bet is right away. Regardless of the exact time you want it running smoothly, start researching now. This will give you the opportunity to take advantage of trials and properly plan your inventory system rollout. The sooner you have an inventory management system the less likely you’re going to get burnt. Take your first step in this leap by talking to one of our inventory experts today.

Subscribe to our email updates

Get the latest expert advice and tools for your business

Maybe later, thanks!

Subscribe for insights into building world-class eCommerce companies