Spreadsheets have been around for years and admittedly there are still some situations where using spreadsheets can be a good option for an SME’s inventory control.
It’s a low-cost choice for businesses with a small number of SKUs and where you have just a couple of people dealing with inventory stock management. If you hold a small volume of inventory and have only one or two suppliers, spreadsheets can be an easy and economical solution.
The main problem with using spreadsheets for inventory control is that they fail to scale and grow as your business does. So, as the business begins to grow and expand, you need to ask yourself if the continued use of spreadsheet workbooks is still meeting your inventory control needs.
When is the right time to switch to the cloud?
There are any number of reasons to dump the spreadsheets and make the transition to cloud. You will know it is time to switch when:
- You are accessing data and need to ask if this is the latest, most current version. Even if it is, you have no guarantee that it is up-to-date. Keeping track of stock using cloud-based inventory software ensures that you are working with real-time information and that the same information is available to everyone, everywhere.
- Keeping track of large quantities of inventory stock in a spreadsheet is causing an increase in data entry errors, particularly when your inventory is moving from one location to another.
- You as the business owner, or the staff you employ, are wasting valuable time to verify if the inventory stock quantities in a spreadsheet workbook accurately reflect the inventory stock you have on hand.
- Only one person at a time can access and update data but you have multiple individuals working with your inventory. For example, if two or more people are editing the same workbook there is potential for catastrophe where one lot of information is saved over the other. Also, the ability to duplicate spreadsheets potentially means not all users are working from the correct workbook or even the same version.
- Profitability is being negatively impacted due to lost sales or carrying excessive levels of inventory stock.
- Using spreadsheets as a means of inventory control increasingly results in data entry inaccuracy and forecasting inadequacy. Cloud solutions help take the guess-work out of inventory control, providing a clear insight into high turnover items and those items left on the shelf. By understanding what products are moving you improve forecasting and free up capital that might otherwise be spent on items that should be discontinued.
Online inventory management
Online inventory management saves you, your employees and ultimately your business significant time and as the saying goes, time is money. The automation process that online inventory management provides can significantly improve inventory efficiency, freeing up time to concentrate on acquiring new customers, expand marketing efforts or to improve the consumer loyalty of existing customers.
With online inventory management you can easily manage customer relationships, create sales and purchase orders simply and quickly. The capacity to integrate with other software means that you can sync with other functional areas such as accounting and eCommerce platforms.
The time to move to the cloud is now
In this environment of increasing consumer expectations and multichannel operations, SMEs can no longer survive by relying on outdated processes such as using spreadsheets to manage inventory. The continued use of spreadsheets in a growing business will end up costing money in the long term.
The time and manual work needed to maintain your inventory spreadsheets can be saved by investing in a sophisticated yet straightforward online inventory management solution.
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.