How to Choose Inventory Management Software for Your Apparel Business
Inventory management is a critical component of any successful business. However, for apparel enterprises, it’s extremely crucial to select inventory management software with features specifically designed for this industry. If you don’t have the right software, you can run into a variety of costly problems.
It can seemingly be a daunting task to acquire the right software, but if you follow specific criteria and talk to the right representatives, you will wind up with the right system in place. Then, you can streamline operations for greater efficiency and profitability.
We’ve created this guide to show you how to choose inventory management software that will make the process easier.
What is an Inventory Management System?
Multinational eCommerce company, Shopify, has a good definition of what an inventory management system, or IMS for short, is.
They define it as,
“An integrated software program designed to track products, inventory, orders, and fulfillment both to and from customers, as well as with suppliers. It helps merchants track products along the supply chain.”
An inventory management system for apparel and fashion businesses expands on that concept. It is tailored to the ever-changing world of fashion and how quickly collections and new styles can enter the market. It also must consider how quickly trends can change and how you need to manage inventory accordingly.
The physicality of the storage area and the product is typically much different for apparel than other items, so an inventory management system for the pharmaceutical industry would probably not work very well for the fashion industry. These are the types of bad fits you need to avoid.
importantly, a robust IMS will bring many much-needed benefits to the table for apparel companies, such as reduced lead times and carrying costs, streamlined processes, improved customer service, better sales channel management, avoiding stockouts and more.
How to Choose the Best Inventory Management Software
When looking for an inventory management system specific to apparel, you want one that offers maximum visibility into your supply chain and helps battle common issues such as overstock, rush orders, shrinking margins, and eliminating inefficiencies.
Here are 10 key points you should consider when choosing an IMS to achieve these goals.
1. Consider Your Needs
As mentioned, you want your IMS solution to be a good fit for the apparel industry. So, thoroughly evaluate how you need to manage your inventory and how you want it configured. Make a checklist if you need to and have roundtable discussions with other organizational stakeholders.
This is a good time to ask questions like how you want to store and organize inventory, how much control you need over certain processes, how large the solution should scale as your business grows, etc.
There are specific features that make an IMS suitable for fashion businesses, so be sure the system you choose has them. You want the solution to be just right for what you want to achieve – no more and no less.
2. Features Needed/Recommended
Look for an IMS that offers features tailored specifically to apparel such as cost tracking, material and fabric management, automatic stock replenishment, product lifecycle management (PLM), garment-on-hanger or flat vending machines, 3D virtualization technology to streamline your supply chain process.
3. Your Budget
The cost of the software is a major factor to take into account, as you want to make sure the solution fits your budget and is a good financial investment. Once you have identified what features you’re looking for in an inventory management system for apparel, you need to look at how much money you are willing and able to invest.
There will be a range of prices that come along with being able to complete all the tasks on your list. Make sure it fits within your budget with proper analysis. Also, don’t forget to factor in how much it will cost for implementation, maintenance, and training.
4. ERP Capabilities
You will want an inventory management system that can be integrated with other systems within your business such as order entry, customer relationship management, and warehousing. An enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution can help you reach these goals.
A full-featured ERP solution like N41 helps you manage everything from accounting to inventory. It helps to streamline processes across all departments in your organization, and it provides a one-stop shop for all your company’s needs.
5. The Company Offering the System
It’s important to choose an inventory management system that has the right support team and services to go along with it.
Ask questions such as how long the company has been around, how many customers they have, how experienced its customer service staff is, and how quickly they respond. If you can, benchmark the experience that one or more of their clients has had that’s a big plus, too.
6. The Right Features
When selecting an inventory management system, there are certain features you need. For instance, how quickly and accurately orders can be fulfilled, how easy it is to track inventory in real-time, how often the system should be upgraded, how much customization is supported, how detailed the reporting features are, how secure the data will be stored, how well the system’s analytics functions operate, and how seamless its integration capabilities are.
The ideal inventory management system should be customizable to fit the needs of your business. Look for features such as custom reports, automated workflow processes, item-level tracking, and user dashboards that can be tailored to how you do business. Mobile access and offline capabilities are also key features to look for.
Lastly, you need to assess how much control you want over the inventory, how often you would like to update the system, how quickly you need access, etc.
You need to look for an inventory management system that will optimize your business processes.
First, you want a system that can accurately forecast sales and inventory levels, so you have just the right amount of product available at any given time.
Second, it should also be able to track stock levels over time and provide insights into how they are changing.
Third, a good inventory management system should be able to manage the entire order fulfillment process and integrate with other systems.
Finally, it should also provide you with analytics that can be used to make more informed decisions about how your business is run.
8. Flexibility and Scalability
Try to find an inventory management system designed with scalability and flexibility in mind. This measure will help ensure that your investment in the system pays off for years to come.
The system should be able to grow with your business when you need it, but still offer the same level of performance as when you first purchased it. Nothing will be worse than investing in a system that you outgrow quickly, resulting in the need to purchase another one.
9. Ease of Use
Look for an inventory management system that is easy to use. You don’t want a complicated system that will be hard to learn how to use or require extensive training.
A user-friendly system is essential so your team can quickly adapt and understand how it works, reducing the overall learning curve of how to get the most out of the solution.
10. Security & Support
Ensure your system is secure. Your inventory and customer data must remain protected at all times so that it is not accessible to any unauthorized persons or hackers.
Also, good customer support is key when it comes to inventory management. You need a system with reliable customer service, so you can get help quickly and easily in case of any problems or queries.
An inventory management system is a must-have for any business, large or small. It can help you manage stock levels and orders, forecast sales and track inventory in real time.
When selecting an inventory management system, consider how long the company has been around, how experienced its customer service staff is, how quickly they respond to queries, how secure the system is, how user-friendly it is, how much control you need over your inventory, how often the system should be updated and how quickly you expect access.
Ensure that the system is flexible and scalable to grow with your business when needed, as well as easy to use so your team can quickly adapt. Last but not least, make sure the system is secure and has good customer support in case of any problems or queries.
With all these features in mind, you can find a great inventory management system that meets your business’s needs.
Contact N41 for Your Integrated Solution Today
If you need more information on choosing the right inventory management software and the right integrated ERP system to go with it, you can contact N41 for your needs.
With years of experience in the apparel sector, we are dedicated to helping you find the best solution for your business. We can ensure our solution offers all the features needed to optimize inventory management at your apparel company.
Visit our website today or schedule a free demo to learn more about how N41 can help you take your business to the next level.