August 2022 - Striven

Inventory Management Software for SMEs: A Guide

When your SME relies heavily on managing inventory, you want to make sure that your inventory management system is as organized and accurate as possible. To be more specific, you want to keep your inventory management system set up in a way that avoids what some refer to as organizational lag— “the inability to adapt, in lock-step, with the rapidly evolving external environment to remain competitive.” This includes the flow of assorted company data (customer info, receipts, notes, etc.) as well as inventory data. The goal? Keeping all of your employees up to date with the most accurate data possible.

Instead of using scattered sticky notes or scrambled spreadsheets, an inventory management software system designed specifically for the needs of SMEs is the more reliable and versatile solution. Not only does inventory management software keep all of your stock organized, but it can also automate a lot of the order management process while being more cost-efficient and drastically reducing the ability for human error to cause major problems.

Inventory Management: Overseeing Stock and Orders

While keeping track of stock is obviously an important feature of inventory management software, it’s far from the only thing that it can do. In addition to keeping track of stock, inventory management software can create a bill of materials (BOM). It’s important to always be able to see how much material is needed to expand your current stock, to have the ability to update lists when new items are created, and even notify the right employees and vendors when stock is running low. Furthermore, inventory management software can assist with the other main aspect of inventory, order management

When sales occur, inventory management software can immediately and automatically place a purchase order to restore the inventory that was just bought. The right inventory management software can also help during the sales process by adding visuals and other informative assets to give customers additional insight and information about the product that they’re buying. When items are sent out for delivery or making their way to you to be stocked and sorted, inventory management software can record all of the important tracking info so you know where your items are and approximately how long it will take for them to be delivered.

Cost-Effectiveness of Inventory Management Software

One of the areas where inventory management software provides the most value is in how it can save your SME money by increasing operational efficiency. As previously mentioned, inventory management software can help create a BOM. That means that it can also give you an estimate on the cost of the materials, which in turn can help your enterprise with budgeting. By being able to view estimated costs within your inventory management system, you’ll be able to put together more accurate financial plans for other areas of your business knowing in advance what these costs will be.

Inventory management software automatically calculates the value of the inventory that you have in stock, as well as the value for projected inventory levels for any given period of time, i.e. during a busy season. Inventory management software can even automatically calculate your inventory turnover rate so that you meet consumer demand without overstocking.  But the true benefit to inventory management software is in the way that it can reduce fixed assets. This helps your business stay more efficiently organized, saving space and storage. By knowing the exact location of your inventory, you can avoid wasting time hunting down the stock that you need. This way, you can maximize both labor and space

One of the best aspects of utilizing an integrated inventory management system is that there are extremely cost effective options that get the job done accurately and efficiently. Most inventory management software is cloud-based, which means there is no need to maintain servers, hardware, or an extensive IT staff. Additionally, some systems are priced based on the size of your company, so your growing business doesn’t have to worry about paying what a Fortune 500 company would have to pay.

Fixing The Problem Of Human Error

Here is where you really get what you pay for when you invest in an inventory management software system: the vast reduction and elimination of errors. As humans, we inevitably make mistakes—an inventory management software system can help eliminate those errors. As Forbes aptly points out, “factors like lack of experience, attention loss or fatigue can result in employees forgetting to complete tasks…these errors might seem small but such lapses have caused businesses to lose millions every year.” While Forbes is talking on the scale of large businesses, that doesn’t mean that the impact is any less significant for a growing business in terms of percentages of potential revenue lost. Additionally, the use of barcodes means that inventory is recorded more accurately than someone writing manual labels. In addition to more accurate labels, inventory management software is more efficient at organizing your inventory so that everything is stored neatly instead of like a complicated, 3D version of Tetris.

The Takeaway

While there are lots of different software solutions out there that serve an important purpose for businesses, inventory management software that’s integrated into the rest of your business’s processes can do everything that all of the other systems can do, and more. In addition to keeping track of orders, they can also manage your inventory stock and help save your company money by both mitigating human error in the process and by providing data on how much inventory to buy, when to buy it, and how to best store it.

9 Ways Customer Data Platforms Offer Invaluable Insights Into Your Customers

Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) are pretty self-explanatory in terms of what they’re used for – storing and organizing customer information. Sounds pretty simple, right? You might be wondering what the hubbub about CDPs is and whether this is one of the technologies you should embrace.

Well, first let’s go into a more detailed definition of CDP: A Customer Data Platform is a software tool that collects and organizes customer data from across different sources. It is used by a multitude of tools, including marketing software

CDPs take real-time data and structure it into individual customer profiles. Why is this useful? The more dynamic, up-to-date, and replete the information you have on a diversity of customers, the better you can hone in on who your customers are and work towards offering more satisfying customer experiences.

Valuable Insights and Benefits Of Customer Data Platforms

1. High Level Of Detail

At the core of CDP is identity data, which allows users to identify specific customers. Examples of identity data include first and last names, age, and gender, contact details, addresses, social media handles, and job status. Instead of relying solely on cookies to track users, CDP collects more concrete identifiers that provide companies with more opportunities to reach customers.

The high level of detail allows the software to identify individuals, which is helpful in terms of offering highly targeted content to consumers. You can use tools such as Infographic Maker to present this complex data in a more easily digestible format.

2. Data Is Stored As Long As Legally Permitted

Instead of focusing on the benefits of short-term targeted ads, CDP allows sellers to develop a deeper and longer-lasting relationship with the consumer. Data is stored for long periods – often as long as is allowed under local laws, which can be subject to change. 

This allows consumer-seller relationships to be nurtured further than they were before and for more information to be added about the consumer over time, creating a more accurate picture of their interests and who they are. 

3. Processes Real-Time Data

Data is collected directly from the source in real time rather than through third parties which ensures the data is highly accurate. First-party data from social media users, subscribers, site visitors, and customers is collected by CDPs, which is the most up-to-date data available. 

So instead of playing a customer-data version of a phone tag you can just find out all about your customers directly.

4. Data From Multiple Sources

Another thing that makes Customer Data Platforms so accurate and able to avoid duplication of data is the fact that CDPs collect data from multiple sources. This allows the software with integrations such as the PySpark datatype to cross-reference the data and see which of the data belongs to the same customer, thus avoiding replication. 

5. Unified Profiles

CDPs build unified customer profiles which help team members get to know their customers. This system helps with things like behavioral analysis to understand trends in interests and consumption and find patterns in all of the noise. Unified customer profiles are easier to share and discuss meaningfully as well.

6. Easy-To-Share Data

The data is formatted in such a way as to make it very easy to share across different departments. This means that everyone in your company and all of your collaborators can have easy access to the same dataset and work more efficiently as a team toward the goals you set. 

Instead of everybody crowding around Nora’s desk and squinting at her screen in exasperation, you can do that at your own desk, or even more likely these days, possibly from the comfort of your own home!

7. Data Hygiene

Perhaps hygiene is not a word you would typically associate with data, but all it means is that data is regularly, as a matter of course, tidied up and updated. This means you don’t have excess or out-of-date information lingering on your system, threatening to slow you down and render your work less efficient. CDP offers the electronic equivalent to dental floss. A little bit regularly will save you a world of pain in months to come.

8. Not Just Quantitative Data

CDP offers qualitative as well as quantitative data. This means that as well as numbers and figures, you have contextual information which helps you to understand the customer’s personality, values, and interests.

By understanding things like what motivates your customers, you can start to understand them more fully, and not just in terms of their buying habits. You can understand them as complete people and citizens, which is very helpful knowledge to marketers. 

9. Marketing-Friendly Format

The shareability of the data, the high levels of accuracy, and the unified data profiles make it easier for marketers to collaborate and develop campaigns that are both targeted and timely across different platforms. CDP allows accurate customer-driven marketing efforts, with breadth and depth of information, like a well-formed loaf of data bread.

The Takeaway

Customer data platforms offer a depth of information which is specific to the user, as well as breadth of information about every customer, such as what motivates them and what their values are. The data can be held for a long time, which allows us to build and nurture a stronger customer-seller relationship, and get to see how the customer changes over time. 

The information is easily shared across platforms, which makes collaboration easier, and it is sourced from many places and cross-referenced, which helps to avoid duplication. This is a useful software capability for a customer-centered environment. The real-time collection of the data helps keep it accurate and up-to-date, as does the collection of data directly from the source. 

The market for customer data platforms is rapidly growing with the industry expected to reach a size of over 20 billion dollars by 2027. This shows the value of accurate, up-to-date and thorough customer data. 

Inventory Management Software: Improving the Efficiency of Inventory Management

Losing customers? Anxious about your company’s longevity? Adopting more efficient management strategies is part of the solution. In today’s business environment, successful companies rely on information systems built upon complex database technology to support management decisions and increase frozen asset turnover. This is due to inventory management software allowing businesses to automate processes that were previously manual and time-consuming, with counting and cataloging inventory being one of the biggest processes.

According to Clara Lu at Quickbooks, since the economy is showing signs of strength again following the pandemic-induced global recession, the need for increased inventory control, flexibility, speed, and more accurate fulfillment is paramount for businesses to thrive in an increasingly competitive global economic environment.. Many experts concur that computerizing inventory control results in more devotion to the B and C items, as to the A’s, in the typical ABC analysis while also expanding the analysis to include the profit margin per item.

The first step in finding the best software match  to manage your business processes is understanding the history of this monumental system and then determining what type of business model a software system caters to.

Inventory Management: Past to Present

Inventory management has been around for centuries, and has historically been based upon principles such as Push and Pull and cycle counting. However, the modern history of the inventory management begins in the 1940s with the creation of the barcode. By the 1980s, with the assistance of more advanced computers and software, the systems of inventory management worked in a cycle, from purchasing, to tracking, and then to monitoring inventory. 

The price of barcodes and readers decreased during this time, and by the early 2000s, inventory management software had transformed so much that businesses no longer needed to input data by hand, and barcode readers could instantly update their databases. Finally, the most modern development in terms of  inventory management systems is in regards to radio-frequency identification technology. RFID technology allows for more information to be contained within a computerized tag  and gives computers the ability to read these tags without being in direct sight. Therefore, inventory management tools are a significant part of a company’s management.

Inventory management tools can be split into two parts: mathematical models/methods of planning, and an information system that provides a continuously documented database of data. Online analytical processing provides sophisticated technologies from data collection, integration, retrieval, analysis, query optimization, and advanced user interfaces.

Inventory Software Set-Up

inventory management software

Inventory management software has grown tremendously in what it can accomplish for businesses, especially in the highly competitive and revolutionary era of the 2020s. However, any software you may be looking into will fail to assist your business if your inventory management system needs serious remedies at the fundamental level, not just the technological level.

The critical elements of an inventory management system are well organized location names, specific location labels, short and unmistakable item numbers, units of measure, and passionate employees who know to follow your strong policies. Once these elements are established, you will realize that using pen and paper or spreadsheets to maintain inventory data is difficult and failure ridden. Using inventory software will allow many users to access it, provide insight to your inventory activity, and assist in keeping an accurate historical record.

Inventory Management is for the Future

Recently, the world has seen a strong shift away from in-house and basic warehouse management software solutions, with 68% of organizations moving to full-featured, cloud-based inventory management systems.

With these new automated processes comes more frequent and less stressful cycle counts, increased inventory visibility, greater fulfillment accuracy, and fewer scenarios where items are out of stock.. Any growing business has a business owner who focuses on profitability and scalability, and while inventory management may not be the most glamorous aspect of business, it can save your business from eating itself alive before your dream can be accomplished.

The Takeaway

Inventory management software can save or greatly expand the power your business wields. Similar to adding a highly technical and sophisticated employee, the right software will be able to help you make important decisions and guide your company in a direction that you previously only dreamed was possible. Deciding on a specific inventory management software to meet your business needs may take time, but establishing the critical elements of an inventory system is crucial before making this move for your company.

4 Ways Data Management Software Helps Small Businesses Realize Their Potential

Today’s world is absolutely filled to the brim with data of all shapes and sizes, more and more of which is being generated each day. By the start of 2020, people had generated 44 zettabytes of information with their digital activities. That figure is only going to increase in the years ahead.

21st-century businesses need to think about how they manage and use the data they continue to rapidly accumulate. That’s where data management software comes into play. We’ll explain what data management involves and some of the benefits it brings to small businesses.

What Is Data Management Software?

Today’s businesses have a lot of data to sort through. This data is generated when customers sign up for services, when they make transactions, or even when they interact with your business more generally – through channels like social media or simply visiting your website, for example. 

The data a business accumulates can be helpful. By understanding the activities of your customers, you can make better business decisions. However, you can’t interpret this data unless it’s been organized properly—which becomes harder when we consider how widely today’s data can be distributed and simply how much of it there is.

That’s where data management comes into play. It collects and organizes data in a way that is useful to you—augmenting things like gut-based guesses—while also protecting it from theft. Data management is typically achieved using a specialized piece of software, which can consolidate data from different sources before analyzing and visualizing it.

Data management is used by a variety of industries, including retail, banking, and manufacturing. It allows businesses to perform particular tasks better, like responding to customer expectations and managing inventory.  It’s also useful for various business sizes—including small ones—and can help you better understand concepts like database ACID.

What Does Data Management Software Do for Small Businesses?

In some respects, it does the same thing as it does for large businesses. All businesses today (whether large or small) generate data, whether they aim to or not. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to do something with it.

Of course, if you’re looking for practical benefits, there are four major components for small businesses to be aware of:

1.    Increased Productivity

Data management means that all the data flowing into your business is organized. This, in turn, means that we can actually access it. Having this central, practical resource ensures that you and your employees can all use your time more effectively—as you aren’t wasting it in futile pursuit of something you need, like how much of a particular resource you have.

Data management also means you’re able to share information with one another more easily. Since even small businesses rely on teamwork, being able to work together effectively is a must.

2.    Better Security

The terminally-online, vastly interconnected nature of today’s world means a lot of the data we produce is sensitive. You need to make sure that the data your business has can be protected from theft, leakage, or simply irrecoverable loss. If you don’t, your business and customers could suffer financial or reputational harm.

A major part of data security is understanding what, exactly, you need to protect. Data management software provides a comprehensive record of what you need to think about. 

Crucially, however, it also comes with encryption and authentication functionality. This makes it much harder for bad actors to access your data. In the event that data gets lost, good data management software backs it up to avoid any unpleasant situations. 

Make sure to protect all facets of your business by improving front-end security for your websites as well.

3.    Higher Quality Decision-Making 

All business leaders have to make multiple decisions each day, which data management software makes easier. This is because this kind of software can actively improve your data’s quality by standardizing, parsing, and verifying the data you give it. Crucially, it does so automatically – meaning there’s only so much oversight you need to give.

Data management software also aids decision-making by blending different data types together. It allows the software to offer new business insights—and even answer questions you hadn’t considered before. This is another aspect of data management you can automate.

More importantly, data management software helps your employees to trust your decision-making. This is because the way you have come to such a decision is more transparent than it may have been in the past.

Indeed, better decision-making is a particular benefit of data management software for small businesses. A larger business can recover from a flawed business decision more easily than a small business can, as the former (obviously) has more resources to work with

4. Better Use Of Funds

data management software

Indeed, while it may come with some initial costs upfront, data management software can save you money. Demystifying a business’ inner workings prevents situations like data duplication, conducting the same research multiple times, or re-running expensive queries. All these cost your business money, and you could easily avoid them with the right software established.  

Naturally, the improvements to decision-making have an impact here as well. Making an informed decision means you’re more likely to see a return on any investments you make, which you can then re-invest into your business going forward.

The Takeaway

Data management software can seem like an extravagance, especially if your business is on the smaller side. However, it can be a very useful tool for day-to-day business operations. 

Managing your data ensures you can interpret and share it more effectively than before. Crucially, it also helps to keep it safe from theft or accidental loss. All small businesses should consider data management software if they want to maintain their edge.

Sales Forecasting Software: How It Predicts Earnings From Your Next Sale

If we told you that there was a way to predict future sales that your business is likely to make, how would you react? There’s a good chance you would think that it was some kind of joke, or an elaborate hoax, perhaps. 

Well, the truth is that there are actually ways for business owners to forecast how well – or not so well– their products or services will sell, as well as how much profit they are likely to make in a specific timeframe.

The best-kept secret in the industry? Sales forecasting software. If utilized correctly, this can be a game changer for your business’ sales.

If you are curious to find out more, look no further than our essential guide:

Sales Forecasting Software: What Is It?

To put it simply, sales forecasting can be one of the most crucial aspects of your company’s success. 

It’s a sophisticated process that allows you to uncover invaluable information on how your products or services are performing, as well as how much your company will likely earn from them. And it doesn’t just offer information about how much you will earn by selling a specific product – it can also suggest best practices for when and how to sell that product. 

You might be wondering, if sales forecasting is so important, then why is it estimated that by 2025, up to 90% of B2B companies will still be relying on intuitive methods instead of analytics to predict their sales?

Intuitive methods are less accurate, and conducting the sales forecasting process using a less accurate or even obsolete method can have a massively harmful impact. Faulty sales forecasting can induce a negative domino-like effect that trickles down through your entire corporation.

It is also worth mentioning that sales forecasting is not the same as setting sales targets. With sales targets, you are looking at what your company hopes or wants to achieve in terms of sales at a specific point in time, but without utilizing the same type of analytical forecasting models that the best sales forecasting software can conjure up.

The Benefits of Sales Forecasting

Let’s have a closer look at the benefits that your organization can achieve through sales forecasting.

1.    Optimizing Your Operations

If you run an ecommerce website, being able to predict the sales of specific items can be immensely valuable. It can, for instance, help you optimize your logistics, inventory, and supply chain operations, making sure that you always stock a good amount of your best-selling products.

But there’s more that sales forecasting can help you with. Departments like HR, accounting, and marketing all rely on accurate sales forecasting. Therefore, it’s vital that your company takes a modern, future-ready approach to forecasting.

2.    Helping with Sales Pipeline Management

Managing your sales pipeline is another aspect of your business that is heavily dependent on top-notch sales forecasting. This is because it will enable you to provide your sales reps and sales manager with up-to-date, precise, and trusted information on your products or services, which in turn allows them to close deals faster and more effectively.

3.    Keeping Your Customers Happy

You can and should consider sales forecasting from the perspective of your customers, too. 

For example, you are forecasting for a specific product to sell exceptionally well during a particular time of the year, you will need to tweak your stock accordingly to ensure that there are enough items to satisfy your growing customers’ demand.

As a result, if your customers are able to purchase your business’ product without any complications or delays, then they are much more likely to come back to you next time they need to make the same purchase. They might even buy something else entirely. The ability to create a high level of customer retention is a valuable asset that your business should be taking full advantage of.

How Does Sales Forecasting Software Work?

If you have decided to take a more analytical stance towards sales forecasting, then a sales forecasting software platform can help. By using one of these, you will be able to condense and centralize some of the main sales forecasting tasks, which include:

  • Historical data: Sales forecasting software collects past sales data on specific products to provide an accurate prediction of how much that product is likely to sell in the future.
  • Sales funnel: The way your sales funnel looks at this moment in time can be considered a good predictor of future sales. The majority of sales forecasting software has in-built sales funnel capabilities that let you enter all the relevant data about your sales funnel and provide you with a prediction based on that.
  • Pipeline forecasting: This method helps you create sales predictions based on your current sales pipeline. It achieves this by combining a wide range of elements, including average sales cycle length, individual sales rep performance, deal health, historical data, marketing funnel, and more.

What’s great about working with a sales forecasting software tool is that you can automate, integrate, and centralize all the above tasks – and many more – instead of relying on manual work that is prone to inaccuracies, delays, and human error. Some sales forecasting software platforms can be considered akin to resilient distributed datasets, which means that they can easily deal with and interpret vast amounts of unstructured data.

Unlock the Potential of Sales Forecasting for Your Business

In a world where data remains king, using that data to help you predict how your products will sell and when you should sell them is a no-brainer. This is what sales forecasting allows you to achieve – enabling, in turn, to raise your customer satisfaction, increase your sales, and optimize your overall operations.

Taking an intuitive approach to sales forecasting is not only obsolete, but can cause serious damage to your business, leaving you more exposed to competitors and market fluctuations. On the other hand, a solid, analytics-driven line is what your business needs to thrive in the digital era – and beyond. 

Why Inventory Software Is Crucial To Business Management

Every successful business needs to know its stock levels for all of the different products it sells. In a digital landscape, business management software makes the process of inventory management more efficient and accessible to business owners. Inventory software syncs data in real time and integrates processes to ensure the business owner’s peace of mind when it comes to tracking orders. 

Different industries demand different requirements from businesses. It is important to look for the inventory software that serves you and your business the best and most fully. Once you integrate this kind of software into your business, you will find that not only are you improving the accuracy in tracking quantities, shipments, and materials, but also saving valuable time that your business can use to increase profitability in other areas.

Important Features of All-In-One Inventory Management Software

In order to find the right inventory software that serves the specific needs of your business, it is important to take into account some of the key features of inventory software. These include but are not limited to:

Inventory software keeps you on top of your orders and sales in an organized fashion while keeping you informed about all of your crucial KPIs in real-time. This is a proven method to avoid errors and discrepancies. For example, with the right business management software, you can improve your manufacturing processes by creating a bill of materials and labor, easily calculate material costs, update your inventory with new items, and create tasks for your staff.

inventory software

In terms of order management, you are able to instantly create purchase orders, control vendor costs, record tracking and shipping information, and add images and notes to items. Integrating an inventory management system within all of the departments of your business can assure you understand all of the ins and outs of your finances in real time, most importantly your profitability.

On top of these features, a great business management software is able to be customized to suit your specific needs, allows your customers and vendors to communicate with your business representatives, provides an intuitive applicant tracking system and a complete inventory management system. It is recommended to look for an inventory software that is both comprehensive with optimized tools and can automate many routine and repetitive tasks. Also, it is important to consider the usability of the program to ensure that the management of your inventory becomes seamless and largely automated.

You may find that some software is easier to use than others. Some software focuses on enhancing work orders and B2B sales channels, while others adapt to a variety of business types. Automating processes and reducing costs to maximize profitability should be a staple of any easy-to-use inventory management software. Business management software systems can reduce operational costs as well as administrative costs, while increasing on-time deliveries.

Wrapping Up

Decisions about software are difficult when taking into account all of the seemingly unpredictable variables that may arise over time. For this reason, it’s crucial to know what your business needs and seek solutions that serve it best now and in the future. The best inventory software will support your process of buying and selling products to help your business succeed. The tools a business management software brings to the table allows you to operate your business more efficiently using automated real-time updates to quickly sell products and services while leaving customers completely satisfied. It is a proven way to increase sales and increase profits.