The 5 Best Inventory Management Software Platforms in 2024

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The best inventory management software for a business varies according to its needs and size. The ideal inventory management system for a small B2C eCommerce retailer, for example, can be hopelessly inadequate for a large B2B manufacturer – and vice-versa.

For this guide we’ve looked at the main use-cases for inventory software in 2024, presenting the best inventory management software option for each type and size of company.

Methodology – choosing the best inventory management systems

We created this guide by starting with different scenarios that affect which kind of system will be best, then assessed the available inventory software tools that matched their needs. The scenarios we looked at were:

  • Small-to-medium firms looking for cloud-based inventory management software that integrates with their other cloud-based systems.
  • Smaller businesses looking for a free inventory management system.
  • Firms looking for an accounting system with native inventory management features.
  • Firms looking for inventory management to support their retail point-of-sale.
  • Businesses looking for inventory management within a workflow management platform.

For each of these categories we then assessed the available software products based on:

  • Suitability of the system’s feature-set, plus the overall UX/UI and system design.
  • Verified user ratings on independent review sites such as Trustpilot, Capterra / SoftwareAdvice / GetApp and G2 – as well as reviews on ecosystem app stores such as Xero, QuickBooks and Shopify.
  • Price.

The best inventory management software for 2024

The best five inventory management software tools in 2024 are:

  • Unleashed: The best cloud-based inventory management for SMEs
  • Zoho Inventory: The best free inventory management software
  • monday.com: The best inventory management workflow software
  • Xero: The best accounting software with inventory management features.
  • Square for Retail: The best inventory POS software

Let’s look at these in more detail, including USPs, the pros and cons of each, and the types of business they suit best.

1. Unleashed

Unleashed is a cloud-based inventory management software that helps you minimise your operational costs and be more efficient in your daily stock management activities. It provides a central platform for streamlining all your supply chain workflows – from purchasing, production, and stock control to order management and forecasting.

Notably, Unleashed has the highest average user rating, as well as the largest number of five-star customer reviews amongst software brands serving the small-to-medium sector such as Cin7, KatanaMRP, Fishbowl and Brightpearl

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Unleashed pros:

  • Real-time inventory tracking ensures stock records are always accurate and up to date.
  • Integrations are maintained in-house for many of the most popular cloud business applications, including Xero, QuickBooks, Shopify, WooCommerce and Amazon.
  • Includes advanced inventory management tools for stock optimisation and forecasting, as well as CRM and WMS capabilities.
  • Very highly regarded onboarding and customer support services.

Unleashed cons:

  • Software training and implementation can take as long as 7-8 weeks due to the comprehensive feature set.
  • Not suitable for large enterprises needing ERP-level tools such as integrated payroll & HR.
  • License costs of USD$88 per user, per month put Unleashed out of range for smaller firms such as owner-operated eCommerce start-ups.
  • Limited customisability. This can be both a pro and a con, as firms will typically need to standardise some of their processes to match the software’s built-in best practice workflows.

Who is it best for?

Unleashed is best for SMEs and growing businesses that require scalable cloud inventory management software with good customer support. Businesses best matched to inventory software of this type are typically between $500k and $10 million in turnover.

Manufacturing inventory management

Unleashed’s production features – such as automated bill of materials management – make it the best manufacturing inventory management software for light manufacturers. It’s popular in industry verticals such as food and beverage manufacturing, and medical device manufacturing thanks to robust batch & serial number tracking features.

eCommerce inventory management

Thanks to custom integrations with Shopify, Amazon and WooCommerce – as well an open API – Unleashed is considered the best inventory management software for eCommerce amongst firms using those platforms.

2. Zoho Inventory

Zoho Inventory is a basic inventory management software designed for sole proprietors, microbusinesses, and small–medium enterprises with simple inventory management needs. It offers cloud-based order fulfilment, warehousing, and reporting features, and is one of the only inventory software platforms with a completely free subscription option.

Zoho inventory management software

Zoho Inventory pros:

  • It offers a free subscription plan, making it an affordable step up from traditional spreadsheet-based inventory systems.
  • As a cloud-based system, Zoho allows you to access and update inventory records in real time from anywhere with an internet connection.
  • Integrates with most major US-based shipping companies, including UPS, USPS, FedEx, and DHL Express.

Zoho Inventory cons:

  • Its limited feature set may make Zoho Inventory unsuitable for medium, large, and quickly scaling companies.
  • Works best as a module in the Zoho ecosystem; if you’re not already using Zoho products – such as Zoho Books or Zoho CRM – you may find its integration options limiting.
  • There are not a lot of customisation options, making it difficult to create a bespoke dashboard based on your specific business goals.

Who is it best for?

Zoho Inventory is a good option for small, US-based businesses with minimal inventory management needs and a small budget. Its $0/month plan makes Zoho the one of the best free inventory management software tools – particularly for companies in the ecommerce sector, as its features and integrations are most useful for online retailers.

3. Monday.com

Monday.com is a comprehensive project management system that gives you a broad suite of useful tools for running your business. While its primary focus is project management, Monday.com also has features for optimising sales processes and inventory management.

Monday.com pros:

  • You can set up automated workflows that instantly notify you of updates to the status of your inventory.
  • Enables you to import data from spreadsheets and convert them into smart boards for streamlined project management.
  • Clean and simple UI design makes Monday.com an accessible, user-friendly option for most businesses.

Monday.com cons:

  • Its inventory management functionality is limited to basic inventory tracking and updates; it lacks key features found in other software options.
  • Despite being one of the best project management systems on the market, Monday.com is unsuitable for most supply chain management activities.
  • Users will need to set up their inventory management system essentially from scratch, which can be time-consuming and inefficient.

Who is it best for? 

Monday.com is an optimal inventory management solution for companies with very simple inventory tracking needs and product variety. However, its project management features make it an excellent tool for improving general productivity that complements a more-robust inventory management system, such as Unleashed or Access ERP.

4. Xero

Xero is cloud-based accounting software that automates key financial workflows such as invoicing, bank reconciliation, and basic inventory tracking. It integrates with a wide variety of apps to synchronise business data and minimise financial errors.

Xero inventory management software

Xero pros:

  • Useful inventory reporting features make it easy to identify best- and worst-selling items and make informed business decisions.
  • The Xero App Store offers hundreds of software integrations that enable you to synchronise inventory and accounting with a custom app stack.
  • Its ultra-clean, easy-to-use interface provides a simple way of automating and centralising key workflows.

Xero cons:

  • Inventory tracking is limited to 4,000 finished items, and cannot track raw materials or work-in-process inventory.
  • As an accounting system, it lacks important inventory management features such as barcode scanner integration and inventory optimisation.
  • Doesn’t allow you to track unfinished assemblies or raw materials, making it a poor choice for manufacturers and food and beverage producers.

Who is it best for?

Xero is a perfect tool for small–medium retailers selling finished products and carrying low volumes of on-hand inventory. It works best when paired with cloud-based inventory management software, enabling a single source of truth for all your stock, sales, and financial data.

5. Square for Retail

Square for Retail is a point-of-sale system that helps retailers sell online, manage payments and inventory, and automatically create useful performance reports. Unlike most POS systems, Square for Retail paid subscription plans include some advanced inventory functionality typically only found in dedicated inventory management software.

Square for Retail inventory software

Square for Retail pros:

  • Despite some feature limitations, Square for Retail gives you an order management system, inventory software, and a retail POS platform all wrapped up in one.
  • Free subscription plan available that includes basic inventory tools, point-of-sale app, and online store.
  • Plus and Premium subscriptions include useful features like barcode integration, cost of goods sold reporting, and stock conversions.

Square for Retail cons:

  • Its limited feature set makes it better suited to small retail shops with a low volume of sales.
  • Users may be required to pay additional charges for compatible hardware.
  • Online reviews mention a lack of satisfactory customer support and integration challenges.

Who is it best for?

Square for Retail is a good inventory management software solution for small retail businesses looking to expand into the online space and streamline payment processing. Its integrated POS, inventory, and reporting system make it a valuable tool for connecting sales with stock control in a retail environment.

Summarising the best inventory management software

Software

Price

USP

Capability Score

Best for

Unleashed

$$$

View pricing

  • Most-loved customer support and 5-star Trustpilot rating
  • Advanced inventory modules for B2B sales, demand forecasting, and more

9/10

Small–medium enterprises and B2B firms

Zoho Inventory

$$

View pricing

  • Free subscription plan available
  • Integrates with popular US-based couriers

7/10

Sole traders and US-based small retail shops

monday.com

$

View pricing

  • Import and convert spreadsheet data into smart boards
  • Clean, easy-to-use interface

3/10

Project-based businesses with minimal inventory tracking requirements

Xero

$

View pricing

  • Cloud-based accounting system with inventory features
  • Integrates smoothly with most popular inventory management software

5/10

Small–medium retailers outside the US

Square for Retail

$$

View pricing

  • Combines point-of-sale, ecommerce, and inventory management
  • Build a custom online store with in-built payment processing

6.5/10

Brick and mortar shops looking to expand online

Key considerations when choosing the best inventory management software

Manually tracking your inventory is time-consuming and prone to error.

Inventory management software creates a streamlined system for the business to track stock levels and fulfilment progress. It can automatically restock required inventory, forecast future order needs, and offer detailed reports to support data-driven business decisions.

When shopping for inventory software, first determine your answers to the following questions.

What’s your budget?

The first step when looking to invest is to determine how much budget you have.

As a rough guide, the average cost of an inventory management system is USD$175 per user licence, per month. Other costs to be aware of include support packages (often billed separately), and onboarding fees. Onboarding costs in particular vary widely between systems and should be investigated before making a decision.

Inventory management barcode scanner software
If your business requires special features, such as assembly kitting or barcode scanning, it's best practice to invest in an inventory management system that already has these built in.

Do you require a system that can scale with you?

Consider your business size and its potential.

The growth trajectory of the business and its potential for high sales on a certain day – Black Friday or Cyber Monday, for example – should guide your decision around product capability.

It’s important to choose inventory management software that has the capacity to handle spikes or increasing amounts of data over time. However, balance this against the budget – you don’t want to pay for high data capacity if it is an occasional event, or to a level not expected for some years.

What features do you require?

The best inventory software is one that’s suited specifically to your business needs. Consider the software features that are most useful in your business.

The essential inventory software features include:

  • Real-time inventory tracking
  • Stock tracking
  • Low supply alerts
  • Supplier management tools
  • Detailed reporting
  • Unlimited SKUs

These features allow you full overview and control of inventory movement, meaning you can respond to demand without the risk of over- or under-stocking. Unlimited SKUs are necessary to ensure you can adapt your inventory management to changes in consumer demand, trends, or business growth.

Beyond these basics, most of the best inventory management software systems will offer industry-specific tools as well. For example, if you’re in the manufacturing business, you’ll also require assembly kitting and BOM functionalities.

Can you trust the provider?

Any system in which you input your valuable data must be reliable, consistent, and offer rapid support should anything go wrong. It must also have strong data protection policies and protections.

A warning of what can go wrong can be seen in Intuit’s purchase of TradeGecko.

After the $80 million purchase, TradeGecko as a standalone product was retired by its new owners. It seems the purchase was driven by an up-sell and cross-sell strategy, with an aim of up-selling the inventory management module to its QuickBooks user base, a move that left existing customers furious.

How well does it integrate with your existing (and future) systems?

Any inventory management software that you invest in must be able to integrate with your existing systems such as your ecommerce platform, accounting software, and customer management tools. Effective integration means workflows can continue uninterrupted, but with improved capacity.

It’s also important to consider future plans, as you may need more complex integrations and need to be confident they will be possible with your selected inventory management software.

Sourcing the best inventory management software for your industry

Choosing the right inventory management software means considering the needs of your business, but also more broadly, the demands of the sector or industry.

Below, we outline the considerations that should be in play.

The best inventory management software for small businesses

If you run a small business, you likely have a limited budget and resources. Investing in software will be valuable, as long as it’s affordable and provides the right features.

Features to look for in small business inventory software:

  • A simple, user-friendly interface. This will ensure staff across the business will be able to use it, with minimal training.
  • Integrates smoothly into your systems. Look for software that integrates with your other tools without the need for additional API integrations or costs. This will ensure there is minimal ‘faffing about’ when the system is integrated and lessens the risk of broader disruption to the business.
  • Mobile capacity. Running a small business often means responding to customers or suppliers while on the go. Being able to do this from a phone or tablet will save time for a small business.
  • Customer support. A small business is likely to have limited (or no) IT support, so will need fast access to support should any glitches arise.
  • Designed to scale. Make sure any system you choose will grow with the business. It may be a small business now but it might not be forever.

How much can you expect to pay for small business inventory management software?

Inventory cost is critical for any business, but even more so for a small business. Small business owners will need to look for affordable products, but ones with the option to expand as required.

Although many features are ubiquitous among systems, inventory management software pricing varies greatly. While some are targeted at major enterprises, there are affordable inventory systems that can deliver notable gains in productivity and profit.

Expect to pay anywhere from $80 per month right into the thousands of dollars. For a small business looking for a well-priced inventory system with the capacity to scale, Unleashed software offers the best of both worlds.

The best inventory management software for manufacturing

Inventory management software is especially important in manufacturing. The quantity of inventory being shifted and the need to ensure stock is retained at the right level means the right software is an invaluable tool.

Features to look for in manufacturing inventory software:

  • Batch tracking. Batch tracking is the practice of grouping similar items in a ‘batch’ that can be tracked together, from supplier to consumer. This delivers efficiency and traceability.
  • Bill of Materials (BOM) management. A BOM is a central information source, detailing what a product needs to be manufactured and how to do it. Bill of Materials management means the various materials needed to create the product can be tracked and reordered as necessary.
  • Supplier management. Supply chain management is also important for a manufacturer, to make sure raw materials are ordered and will arrive in time to be utilised for the final product.
  • Track and trace. The ability to track and trace products is important for transparency, and to be able to react rapidly if there are any issues such as a batch going missing or being delivered to an incorrect address.
  • Business intelligence. Insightful reporting not only enables a business to ensure its supply chain is efficient, but it also offers the ability to manage demand and forecast changes in customer patterns or trends.

Learn more: 15 Types of Manufacturing Software & Who Benefits From Each

managing inventory with software
One of the best manufacturing inventory management software features to look for is serial number tracking, as it can help ease the pain of product recalls.

The best inventory management software for ecommerce

Ecommerce inventory software should be centred on the customer experience, with features that ensure a smooth user journey.

Features to look for in ecommerce inventory management software:

  • Ecommerce platform integration. Integration into the back and front end of an online platform is vital for an ecommerce company. Consider which ecommerce platform (or platforms) you will be using to ensure integration is smooth and doesn’t create glitches for the customer.
  • Real-time inventory tracking. Ecommerce generally deals with high-turnover products, and as such real-time inventory tracking is hugely important. Real-time inventory tracking ensures products are stocked and delivered in line with customer demand.
  • Multi-channel inventory tracking. The ability to track inventory sales across channels including ecommerce platforms, marketplaces, and in-house websites means stock is replenished at the right speed and customers are not left in the lurch.
  • Mobile access. Consumers are increasingly reliant on their mobile devices and m-commerce sales are expected to surpass 43% of ecommerce sales in 2023. User experiences such as one-click sales, or the ability to easily authorise credit card payments are contributing to the rise in m-commerce sales.

The best inventory management software for customer support and onboarding

There’s nothing worse than committing to a major software upgrade, getting through the onboarding stage, and finding yourself up a river without a paddle.

Make sure the provider you go with has a good track record of helping customers at every stage of the purchasing cycle. They should also offer implementation and onboarding support, be quick to respond to customer enquiries, and offer comprehensive software training.

“We have used Unleashed for more than 3 months now and it has given us great clarity across our products, bill of materials, suppliers and customers and most importantly landed costs. The onboarding support of the Unleashed team has been fantastic, very helpful, and timely in resolving issues or answering our questions.”

  • Deutsch Medical, via TrustPilot

Spreadsheets & accounting software vs. inventory management software

Spreadsheets and accounting software are useful for inventory management, but they are far more limited than inventory management software.

The limitations of spreadsheet-based inventory control include:

  • Simplicity. Inventory management software is able to handle more complex and sophisticated data sets than spreadsheets. For example, it can handle geographic information, tracking and real-time data.
  • Data entry. Inventory management software automates data entry, analysis, and future forecasts – a far more efficient way of operating than manually inputting data sets into a spreadsheet. The labour-heavy requirements of spreadsheets also open up the risk of errors, which can lead to under or over-stocking.
  • Accessibility. One of the major benefits of cloud software is its ability to share information in real time across devices. This means anyone who is authorised can jump in and view the datasets at any time and assess what that information might mean for business decisions.
  • Automation. Inventory management software enables the automation of processes such as stock alerts and supplier management. This supports far more efficient systems than if they were managed manually, through spreadsheets or accounting software.

What’s the best time to invest in inventory management software?

Investing in inventory management software is a significant financial decision, but one that is near inevitable for any business which stores inventory. The question is not if it should be done, but when.

Below are some key criteria to consider when deciding if it’s time to upgrade your inventory system.

Is your business growing?

If your business is on a growth trajectory or expanding into new markets, now is a good time to invest in inventory management software. Businesses often start with manual inventory tracking systems but should shift to specialised software systems as they grow.

Ideally, the investment should come at the beginning of the growth curve, so they are embedded in the systems and don’t have to be retrospectively integrated after the initial growth phase.

Are you carrying high costs?

If you have identified high inventory costs as a result of inefficient labour use and a reliance on manual systems, it’s likely time to invest in inventory management software. Doing so will inevitably save on costs as the automated systems minimise any over- or under-stocking.

Is your tracking inaccurate?

If you are finding inaccuracies in your data, it will be time to invest in inventory management software. Inaccuracies are common in manual systems and can lead to major problems with stocking levels.

In this guide
Oliver Munro
Article by Oliver Munro in collaboration with our team of specialists. Oliver's background is in inventory management and content marketing. He's visited over 50 countries, lived aboard a circus ship, and once completed a Sudoku in under 3 minutes (allegedly).