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What Inventory Management Software Exists for SMB Retailers or Manufacturers?

Jason Rollins's Profile

strategic retail solutionsLooking for strategic retail solutions.

Answers

Topic Expert
Keith Perry
Title: Consulting CFO and Business Operations A..
Company: Growth Accelerator
(Consulting CFO and Business Operations Advisor, Growth Accelerator) |

Jason;

We're using the QuickBooks enterprise online version for small mfg. Like all QB packages, it is reasonably(ish) priced, accessible, and clunky. I've got a second company that I may move to it as the first two outweigh the third.

QB also has a retail version that comes replete with POS systems, etc.

I worked with NetSuite previously, and it was *very* small mfg oriented. It has become more accessible, slightly less clunky, but you do pay them a pretty significant price. That being said, NS is a system of record, and QB is not (note, I've never understood why QB resists auditability so strongly. If you plan to go public, have 404 reviews, or anything similar, I'd move away from this).

Most of the other smaller packages I've been experimenting with (Freshbooks, Wave, etc) really aren't up to snuff. You save money but there really isn't the functionality that you need.

Note that depending on your retail needs, you may go with one of the online retail services. They do a fantastic job of inventory, web-POS management and the like.

Finally, if your needs are pretty simple and you're web-smart, another prior-life company we built the POS and Inventory system ourselves. I actually taught myself Access to deal with the push-side of the inventory, and the remainder was built in mySQL. We were going to feed it back into our NetSuite implementation, but it was quite literally cheaper and more robust to simply do an import export and deal with the delay between our GL and the Inventory/POS system (it turned out to be completely irrelevant, as the real-time link between Inventory and sales was what was critical).

Robert Honeyman
Title: CFO
Company: Advanced Predictive Analytics
(CFO, Advanced Predictive Analytics) |

1. I last looked at Xero vs QuickBooks years ago. It had the flaw of allowing you to delete transactions. That's a basic no-no in an accounting system.

2. I've looked at a number of cheap alternatives to QB. The two I settled on were Xero.com and NolaPro.

3. Xero.com remains weak with regards to inventory but they integrate with four inventory packages, one of which looked interesting and robust - you'll have to go to their site to get the names, but the accounting portion seems sufficiently advanced. The price ranges from $20 per month to $40 per month. Since my current project requires multiple currencies, I went with the latter. I haven't decided how to handle inventory yet but our needs are very modest.

4. NolaPro is open source freeware. The GUI is awkward but the actual accounting package is robust. You would almost certainly need to engage a consultant to implement but I suspect you'd wind up with a strong answer to the problem.

5. The problem with NetSuite is really price. If you can afford it, it's certainly an acceptable approach. But when I last looked at it for my former company, we were looking at a couple hundred thousand to implement.

6. There's an excel approach that I came across recently that may fill your needs. Check out http://www.production-scheduling.com. Freeware.

Lynne Taylor
Title: Principal
Company: Cloud Accounting Services for Enterprise..
(Principal, Cloud Accounting Services for Enterprises (CASE)) |

Ditto with @Robert Honeyman on Xero.com. I've implemented it for a few clients now, including one small business startup that is manufacturing a cool new green product line. We just created an e-commerce hookup with their website using Magento, and an inventory management app called Unleashed that works with both Magento and Xero.com. So they now have a store/shopping cart to sell their manufactured goods, an inventory management app for creating BOMs, standard costing, WIP, reorder points, etc. and a "back end" accounting system for accounting transactions and reporting. All for less than $150 or so a month for multiple users. These are great solutions for an SMB at affordable prices.

Topic Expert
Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Jason, what are your unique clothing/apparel inventory tracking needs?
For example, as a retailer, apparel may need to be tracked by size (S, M, L, XL) and/or color variants, which will eliminate many standard POS packages.
If you manufacture, or manage contract manufacturers, to what extent do you need to manage rolls of fabric, lengths/widths, trim loss% as well as finished goods functioality like a retailer?
The retailer solution may be a POS (e.g. Counterpoint by Radiant) with integration to a smal/mid sized ERP that is apparel industry focused (e.g. A2000).
I would venture to suggest that your answer is besta rrived at by drilling down a level to defining your key business/functional requirements based on a clear understanding/definition of your business model.
Hope that helps
Len

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

I agree with Len. There is a best practices approach to the acquisition and implementation of an accounting system. Using the best practices approach will enable you to create a matrix of needs, wants and wishes as well as determine whether you are willing to use a cloud based system or not.

At that point you can research the marketplace and find the right system and right vendor.

Jason Chroman
Title: Vice President Finance & Controller
Company: Tubular Labs
LinkedIn Profile
(Vice President Finance & Controller, Tubular Labs) |

You may want to consider FishbowlInventory, which is an inventory management package that integrates with QuickBooks. We've used it for the last few years for writing POs, defining BOMs, doing builds, and doing some asset management. It's pretty good, and the company provides decent phone support.

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