Tracking your inventory levels through spreadsheets is a rite of passage. It’s a simple, low-cost solution for small businesses that will undoubtedly do the job for a little while. Yet, running everything off spreadsheets can become tricky and stressful, especially when scaling your business. As the business grows, you need an intuitive way to track your inventory. Could a cloud-based inventory software be the solution you need? Or do you think you can stick it out with the spreadsheets? Let’s look at why spreadsheets are out and how cloud-based inventory software (like Workhorse) is the future.
The dangers of using spreadsheets for inventory and order management
It’s no surprise that many small businesses would rather stick to spreadsheets. Google and Microsoft now offer free cloud-based spreadsheet programs, while switching to a dedicated cloud-based inventory software system comes at a cost. But is the small saving worth the risk? Let’s look at just some of the dangers of tracking inventory through traditional spreadsheets.
You need to update everything manually
If you’re a small business pushing a couple of units here and there, manually updating your stock levels is a relatively simple task. As your business grows, so will the amount of stock and number of orders you need to manage. Suddenly you’re pushing 100 units a day and still trying to keep track via a spreadsheet. Think about the steps you need to take to fulfil an order. Now multiply the number of steps by 100 and imagine yourself manually updating your spreadsheet to reflect every step with every product you sell. Nightmare fuel, right?
You can easily forget crucial updates
The sheer amount of work involved with manually updating inventory levels will likely lead you to jot down stock levels on a notepad and update the spreadsheet at the end of the day. As the time between when an item ships and when it’s logged into the system increases, mistakes become more likely. Those mistakes can lead to inaccurate stock levels, lost shipments, and poor communication between you and your customers. Before you know it, you’re selling items you don’t have in stock and failing to fulfil customer orders.
You have to keep looking at the same data
Doing end-of-day updates to the inventory level spreadsheet can help you avoid being chained to a computer all day, but it means that no one truly knows what’s in the warehouse. This can be a complete disaster, especially if you have a great sales day. You could run out of stock at lunch but continue to actively promote the item on your storefront. As a hot item, it continues to sell until the spreadsheet gets updated at the end of the day. Because everyone was looking at the same data all day, no one was able to put a hold on orders, and now you have a bunch of orders that you need to cancel. Not only is this terrible for your sales figures, but mass cancellations will also create lots of unhappy customers.
Repeating processes is a waste of time and money
If your staff keeps track of stock levels on paper, it can be a complete waste of time because everyone has different figures by the end of the day. This means you’ll need to perform a complete inventory check on a far more frequent basis. The more time that passes between reviews, the more chance of overselling or for stock to go missing. With a well-managed inventory, you only need to perform full inventory checks monthly or even quarterly. With a manual process, you’ll find that you need to perform them weekly. This means you’ll be bringing in your employees more often for longer shifts. Not to mention the inevitable need to recount at the end of stock take if the numbers are wildly different than you expected.
The benefits of moving to a cloud-based inventory software
It’s important to remember that customers who have a negative experience are more likely to leave a review than those whose order went through without a hitch. Manually updating stock levels on a spreadsheet creates many opportunities to derail the customer experience. The more things go wrong, the worse your company’s reputation will be. So, what about cloud-based inventory software? Can it really improve the shipping experience for employees and customers?
Cloud-based inventory software keeps your data organised and in one place
Manually tracking stock levels can involve several different data sources as employees note down the stock levels when they select items for fulfilment. When it comes to updating the spreadsheet at EOD, someone has to look through every sheet and figure out which is accurate. Cloud-based inventory software allows employees to update stock levels as they pick the items. This helps keep your stock levels up-to-date and changes the order status as they work. Come EOD, your data is already accurate and organised so everyone can head on home.
With cloud-based inventory software, employees can simply scan a barcode when picking an item while the system does the rest. Once the barcode is scanned, the system will automatically update stock levels for that item and update the customer order status. All this is done in real-time, so you can be sure that the data you see at any time is an accurate reflection of your stock levels.
Reports are accessible anywhere at any time
Imagine you’re out of the office for the day, but you need to check stock levels for a particular item. With a spreadsheet, you can pull up the report at any time, anywhere you have an internet connection, but you won’t be looking at an accurate report. A dedicated cloud-based inventory management platform will not only be accessible whenever and wherever you need it, but it will also give you an accurate report. You can even see when an item is picked and watch the order status update in real-time.
Integration helps cloud-based inventory software fit into your existing workflow
Aside from the cost, a key concern for many is that new software can disrupt the way your business works. Change can become costly if handled poorly, and for a small or medium-sized business, the name of the game is keeping costs low. Cloud-based inventory software can integrate with your accounting system to create a seamless experience. For example, Workhorse integrates with Xero so your team can handle all operational activities with Workhorse, while your financial information gets automatically updated in Xero. No more transferring data between multiple platforms!
Your data is protected
Simply misplacing a piece of paper is all it takes to compromise customer and business information in a manual inventory management system. With cloud-based inventory software, your data will be secure and backed up regularly to avoid losing sensitive information.
Take control with Workhorse.
Workhorse offers all the benefits of cloud-based inventory software and more in one simple to use platform. Book a demo today to see how you can ditch manual processing and bring your inventory management system into the 21st century!