How to Get the Best Inventory Management Software Free for Your Business!
What you can learn from a free trial of an inventory software
A restaurant needs inventory management to ensure that inventory stock is maintained at optimal levels. Inventory management is measuring the stock used by a restaurant in a particular time period, comparing the stock used with the sales and putting measures in place to reduce any gaps between production costs and sales. It is best to opt for a management software to keep track of inventory as the inventory software automates inventory tracking and gives real time update, thus saving a lot of time and money.
But before you opt for a management system to track your inventory, it is a good idea to opt for a free version of the inventory management software so that you can see if the management system suits your unique needs. Here are a few reasons you should test the free version of an inventory management system-
While using the free version of the management system, you will gain a better understanding of the inventory software as you will experience the key features, user interface, how easy or difficult it is to operate and whether it suits your business needs.
An inventory management software provides real time inventory tracking and a free version lets you see the benefits of using an inventory software in real time such as reports and analytics and real time visibility.
If you are a small business, opting for a free version of an inventory management system will give you an idea of what your needs are and if the inventory software fulfils your requirements without making the financial commitment.
A free plan of the inventory software also helps you get answers about the viability of the key features, if they suit your business needs and if it worth investing in the inventory software.
Inventory management software- free version vs. Paid
After looking at the benefits of opting for a free trial of an inventory software, let us now weigh the pros and cons of opting for a free Inventory Management software v/s paying for an inventory management system-
The biggest advantage of opting for a free software which is also known as open source software is the cost. Since the inventory software is free and, most of the times, cloud based, it is easier to install and use as compared to a paid inventory management system which may have its own hardware system which becomes part of Fixed Costs for the restaurant.
Paid inventory management system trumps open source or free inventory software in two key areas technical support and customisation. Most free inventory management systems don't have dedicated technical support which can help resolve issues in real time unlike paid management systems. Though there is a level of customisation of management tools with free inventory software the cost to develop them is high but paid management system can be tailored to suit the individual business needs better.
Paid management systems also have better integration with other software that may already be in use at a restaurant like an accounting software or point of sale software as compared to the free plan or open source software.
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Best management tools for your business
After comparing paid and free inventory management systems, let us now look at some of the best inventory management software available in the market which offer management tools which help in running a restaurant efficiently. Here is a list of top 5 Products Services you can choose from-
Hubworks is an a la carte office solutions provider for restaurants. The back office solutions provider offers individual apps to handle warehouse management, order management, scheduling, employee scheduling, Supply Chain and food safety compliance. Zip Inventory app from Hubworks offers management tools which can keep track of inventory, waste and variance and streamline inventory orders and order fulfilment. The app also provides easy to understand reports and analytics on ordering, variance and menu breakdown.
MarketMan is a cloud-based inventory management app which provides great features like inventory counting, purchasing, budgeting, vendor management and food costs. It can be integrated with many point of sale systems. It also helps plan and budget menu items and know the most and least profitable items
3. xtraCHEF by Toast
xtraCHEF by Toast is a cloud based restaurant inventory management system. The inventory software claims to offer the most accurate line item recognition and extraction. It also offers dashboards to track, compare, and control your food costs.
4. Revel Systems
Revel Systems claims to be one of the best point of sale systems for small businesses. The management system offers customisable solutions for inventory control and purchase order management. The inventory software can send stock alerts and generates purchase orders
5. Upserve by Lightspeed
Upserve by Lightspeed is ranked as the most automated built-in inventory software. It is a great management app for a small business. It offers management tools for inventory tracking, offline management for inventory counts and one-click purchasing.
Should you pay for inventory management software per month?
We have already discussed the pros of opting for a paid inventory management system. But now the question that may arise is if the fees per month to be paid to use the software are worth it?
A paid inventory software has a clear guarantee of technical support and gives you a single point of contact, thus saving time and money in case of any problems. It also gives you a clear plan for upgradation and maintenance of the inventory management software.
If you calculate this cost and take into account that open source or free inventory management systems don't have such guarantees, then paying the per month is not too expensive.
You can also use the trial period to thoroughly explore all the key features an inventory software has to offer and see which of the management tools you actually need. As most paid management systems are customisable, this will also be beneficial to your budget. You should also check if the inventory software you are buying can be upgraded to include any future expansion plans you have.
Some experts and business owners have said that the cost of the inventory management system should pay for itself within 2 years. Use forecasting tools to calculate if the investment will recover itself in the savings due to better inventory management. If your calculations align with your future goals, then it is time for you to invest in the best inventory management solution for your business.
Importance of inventory management system in business
A restaurant needs efficient inventory management and supply chain to ensure smooth functioning of daily flow and effectively manage profits. We now look at some key benefits of opting for an inventory management software that can give you the best inventory solution for inventory control-
Real time inventory tracking- A cloud based inventory software helps help keep track of stock in real time, which is key for efficient restaurant management. Inventory tracking also helps reduce food waste as the management system issues alerts for low stocks.
Managing food cost- A good inventory management software can help purchase food products which are in your budget and also control factors like food storage, preparation, portion size and food waste. The inventory management system also gives the freedom for adjusting your menu planning and expenses as it provided overview of how each order will impact the profitability.
Purchase orders- A restaurant has to create a Purchase Order for buying stock to stock up inventory and a good inventory management system has tools inbuilt to generate purchase orders which can be sent to vendors to purchase stock.
Predicting stock needs- An inventory management software can analyse order management by taking into account historic sales data, purchase orders and inventory management.
Key features of inventory software: Inventory Management
Purchase order management & Supply Chain Management
Intelligent reporting and analytics
Table and order management
Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
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How to keep track of your inventory
An inventory management system will automate inventory tracking but here are five tips which can help in effective inventory control and management-
1. It is beneficial to also have manual inventory counts- A point of sale system can track inventory and help with forecasting, order management. But it is better to take a manual count of inventory to verify and update information in the inventory software.
2. The same staff every time- It is better to use the same employees for inventory tracking as they will be more efficient and will learn to spot trends or inconsistencies.
3. Keep a consistent schedule- Manual inventory tracking should be carried out on a regular basis as it is easier in Management Supply and stock. It's best to take inventory counts process before you open or after you close. However, you can track different types of stock at different times.
4. Food waste sheet- Use a separate sheet while inventory tracking to keep track the amount of food that has spoiled or wasted. Tracking food waste can help you find solutions to reduce that loss. A food waste log can help find areas for improvement and save money.
Where to find inventory management software for free
If you are small business, then before taking the risk of investing in an Inventory Management software, you can check out some of the free inventory software which can give you an idea of how an automated management system works. Here are some of the best free inventory management solutions on offer in the market-
eHopper- It is an ideal management system for small businesses and new restaurants. The inventory software offers management tools for order management, inventory management and allows small businesses to maintain control of stock totals by allowing easy transfers between multiple locations.
uniCenta- It is a cloud based management software and provides management tools for barcode scanning, inventory management, customer and employee management. But the advanced features are not easy to use.
SambaPOS- The inventory software is ideal for basic restaurant management as it offers management tools for inventory management and real time data reporting. It can be customized and operates on Windows open source management software.
Zoho Inventory- Zoho is a free management software that can help manage inventory in real time, deliver orders faster and help with table and order management. It also optimizes the purchase orders and can be integrated with existing software like accounting software.
TouchBistro- It is an open source management system which gives real time access to inventory tracking and provides analysis to help you make better business decisions. It has an active technical support team and a simple user interface.