Why Isn’t Excel the Best for Inventory Management?

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Spreadsheet programs such as Excel are excellent tools for logging and manipulating data, however they are highly restrictive and can be detrimental when used to manage inventory within a business.

It is important to ensure you do your research before selecting a program to suit your needs so that you able to manage your business accurately and effectively. Here, we review 10 reasons why Excel is not the best option for managing your company’s inventory.


The time required to update spreadsheets, check their accuracy and generate meaningful reports from the data is huge and therefore represents a cost to the company by taking someone off a task they were doing to complete this one. It might seem like the easiest and cheapest option from the outset because Excel is widely-understood and is free with the Microsoft Suite, however, in the long run more time and therefore money may be spent using it.


Following on from this, having someone spending their time updating Excel spreadsheets creates the inherent opportunity for human error. This is especially the case the larger the company is and therefore the more prolific the sales data becomes. Using an inventory management software program that is specifically designed for this process and is based on automation, minimises the opportunity for human error to creep in.


Due to the lack of real-time data in Excel (difficult to achieve unless you had a little Excel fairy constantly updating it), there is a lack of transparency of company data. This is not necessarily bad, it just is the nature of the beast. As the company grows, transparency is of paramount importance and therefore it really is best to consider an automated approach such as inventory management software.

When things do go wrong…

Inventory management software allows changes and updates to be tracked which means it is easier to troubleshoot issues or locate errors when they do occur. Therefore, down-time due to fixing bugs is reduced and the impact of errors on the customer is minimised.

User interfaces

Inventory management software allows many point-of-uses which means that if there are multiple branches or workstations where the data needs to be accessed, this is possible, and the data is in real-time to boot. Excel does not afford the luxury of accessing the same working document from multiple locations and knowing that what you are viewing is an accurate representation of the current sales and inventory status.

Enhanced customer experience

Due to automation and easy integration of inventory management software, the whole company can operate much more efficiently and glitch-free. This translates well to the customer and makes their experience far more pleasant. Additionally, with inventory management software, purchasing product remotely on the internet is possible with accurate inventory levels and this is a feature that definitely enhances the customer experience.


Inventory management software allows for easy sales growth and company expansion, where Excel would struggle with this. Basically, by forking out the money at the start for a good inventory management package such as Unleashed, you are future-proofing your business and will get a lot of use out of it for some time to come.

Accurate reporting

Excel is a great program for data collation, however, when meaningful reports that are easy to understand are needed, a great deal of knowledge and time is used. It is possible to produce aesthetically pleasing, easy to understand and highly accurate inventory reports with inventory management software, and in a fraction of the time. Additionally, forecasting in Excel is problematic due to its inability to provide real-time data whereas this is a highly-rated attribute of an inventory management program.

No need for a guru

Utilising Excel for inventory management requires someone of guru-status to ensure the job is well done. This is because using it for anything more than simple data collation requires experience and know-how with complex formulae and formatting required. However, with inventory management software, all the algorithms are the job of the software allowing for ease of use for anyone in the company, even if they hate numbers.

File size

Excel files used for inventory management can be massive and therefore require a lot of hard-drive space to store them. Not only this, but they can also be problematic to run due to the large amount of data and formulae incorporated in them. Therefore, to keep the blood pressure in control and the need for more and more hard-drive space down, it is recommended to use an inventory management package. They are custom-designed for large volumes of data and can also be cloud-based so there is no need for them to steal valuable memory on your computer.

These are only ten of many reasons why Excel is perhaps not the best-suited program for inventory management, particularly where the company is large or future growth is the goal. Though it has many merits, it is certainly advisable to look into inventory management software packages such as Unleashed Software instead.

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Melanie - Unleashed Software

Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.

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