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There's no getting around it – ecommerce is one of the most challenging business models.
You're dealing with processing physical goods, ensuring that customers get their orders on time and keeping track of inventory levels simultaneously.
Sometimes, on relatively thin margins while also managing accounting, marketing, website maintenance and more.
But the upside of a profitable ecommerce business is certainly worth the work, so long as you have the right tools in your tool belt.
Using software to manage inventory makes managing and scaling an ecommerce business easier. In today's business climate, it's an essential tool for growth. Manually managing all the inventory complexities of an ecommerce business may work for a tiny, part-time operation, but anything larger than that requires software solutions.
In this article, we'll take a look at nine of the best inventory management systems for ecommerce in 2023.
We'll also review which features are among some of the most important to look out for when shopping around vendors and how these features can benefit your company.
Linnworks is a dynamic ecommerce platform that empowers retailers and businesses to automate essential processes, minimize costs and scale their operations.
It comes with more than 100 integrations which allow you to manage multichannel inventory listings, orders and fulfillment from a centralized platform.
In addition to acting as the central hub of your inventory management operations, Linnworks also provides features like automation of routine inventory processes, order management and multi-location management.
This way, you can keep your customers happy and reduce expenses associated with understocking, overstocking or stock-outs.
Moreover, Linnworks can also project demand using historical sales and replenish your stock when needed.
Linnworks is an excellent option for growing ecommerce businesses looking to invest in software to manage inventory.
2. Zoho Inventory
A part of the Zoho software suite, Zoho Inventory is an inventory management tool for growing ecommerce businesses.
It's loaded up with dynamic features that let you manage your offline and online orders, create purchase orders, backorders, and drop shipments, and integrate with shipping tools.
Zoho Inventory includes an end-to-end tracking capability, which lets you monitor every item or batch in your stock with serial numbers and tracking features.
Like Linnworks, Zoho Inventory also has multiple out-of-the-box software integrations. These include Shopify, Etsy, PayPal, Amazon, Stripe and Zoho CRM.
It also includes a mobile app, allowing you and your employees to stay connected and get real-time updates on your inventory processes even if you're not in the warehouse.
Cin7 is an integrated, cloud-based inventory management system that centralizes stock management across multiple sales avenues.
Using Cin7, you can connect your sales channels, products, reports, workflows, warehouses, orders, and stock locations into a centralized solution.
Moreover, it has an advanced multichannel capability that lets you sell any way you want, whether wholesale, online or retail.
Although Cin7 works with multiple businesses, it is primarily designed for small businesses wanting to simplify fulfillment and automate stock tracking.
Lightspeed is designed specifically with ecommerce retail businesses in mind. So, it's no surprise that the vendor provides a range of retail-specific functionalities.
It works for businesses of all sizes and has an intuitive interface that lets you customize options to fit your operations.
Lightspeed also offers an array of features such as inventory tracking, customer management, sales and order fulfillment, analytics, and purchase orders.
It also includes a mobile app for in-store sales, which helps you manage front-end operations like payments and refunds.
And if you have multiple store locations, Lightspeed is an excellent choice as it provides a unified platform to manage stock, pricing, and customer data from a single dashboard.
Lightspeed also provides a 14-day free trial so you can try it before your buy.
Megaventory is a cloud-based inventory management that helps businesses in full orders, report on inventory data, invoice vendors, and manage manufacturing logistics.
The solution also helps eCommerce businesses check stock levels, monitor supplier availability, and ensure the on-time return of inventory.
It also supports multiple integrations. Let's say, for example, you want to integrate the software with WooCommerce.
Megaventory can easily monitor inventory levels within numerous physical locations and push that information quickly and effectively to WooCommerce.
Besides that, Megaventory also boasts an extensive feature list including order editing, contact management, stock alert levels, multiple currencies and inventory returns.
On top of everything else, Megaventory is budget-friendly and offers excellent customer support, making it a solid option for small and mid-sized businesses.
Ordoro is a robust all-in-one software platform designed for growing ecommerce merchants. It helps by connecting businesses to their sales channels and visualizing logistics workflows.
Some of the features of Ordoro include product linking, manufacturing workflows, inventory storage monitoring and kitting.
Using the kitting plugin, you can bundle multiple stock-keeping units into a single unit for sale to increase investment returns.
For hands-off and automated shipping, you can connect your suppliers through the Ordoro Vendor Portals.
This way, you can reduce the back and forth by letting your vendors log in and get all the order data they need to fill orders.
One less thing on your plate!
SalesBinder is an easy-to-navigate online inventory management system that centralizes customer accounts, inventory and sales leads.
Using SalesBinder, you can update inventory quantities automatically as they are sold and purchased, classify your inventory and conduct reports on specific categories, replenish stocks and set up customer units of measure.
With robust features ranging from barcode scanning to inventory tracking and labeling, SalesBinder is an excellent option for SMBs, large enterprises, and freelancers.
Lastly, SalesBinder integrates with many popular third-party ecommerce platforms like Zapier, WooCommerce, Xero Accounting and Intuit QuickBooks Online.
Boxstorm is a cloud-based solution that assists businesses in managing inventory, streamlining the entire product lifecycle, and tracking stock levels.
Unlike most inventory management systems in this list, Boxstorm is something you can access on any device through a web browser – meaning there's no software to download or server to
It also comes with a Forever Free offering, which includes the ability to sell up to 25 items and perform 100 transactions.
However, for SMBs and large enterprises dealing with multiple customers, upgrading to the Pro plan, which lets you perform unlimited transactions and list unlimited items across unlimited locations, might be a better option.
Regardless, Boxstorm is incredibly easy to use and provides a simple, visually-appealing interface for uploading and listing your products.
TradeGecko is a cloud-based inventory and order management software that helps businesses manage their sales, orders, inventory, customers, suppliers and more.
Using the platform, you can create product bundles easily by bundling related products into one item for sale.
You can also use TradeGecko to automatically sync inventory across multiple sales channels, get real-time stock levels and run detailed reports.
Furthermore, TradeGecko allows you to manage orders from customers, suppliers and distributors all in one place.
The system also offers integrations with Shopify Plus, WooCommerce and BigCommerce, making it a great choice for businesses selling products on multiple platforms.
Now that we've gone over some of the more popular inventory management software (IMS) platforms let's look at some of the specific features you'll want to keep an eye out for as you're perusing this list.
For your business, some of these features may be more important than others. However, these cover the most common inventory management needs in a typical ecommerce business:
When shopping for an IMS, make sure to read reviews and take advantage of free trials to get a better idea of how each system works and if it will meet your needs.
You may also want to consider an IMS that offers additional features such as customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities and automated shipping options, as these can be incredibly helpful in streamlining your workflow.
The right inventory management software can truly be the difference between reactively putting out fires in your business and proactively running a smooth, successful operation.
Inventory management is one of the most data-intensive processes you can manage in a business.
Recent studies show manual inventory only has a 63% accuracy rate. In a hyper-competitive space like ecommerce, that's simply unacceptable.
When inventory levels are routinely off, you run the risk of canceled purchased, lost customers, and perhaps worst of all, a tarnished reputation.
In addition to being error-prone, manual inventory management is absurdly time-consuming. It's so easy to get lost in the weeds of stock levels, orders and SKUs.
That's where using software to manage inventory instead comes in.
An IMS is a piece of software that automates many of your manual inventory management processes – such as tracking stock levels, analyzing sales data, forecasting future demand and managing reordering.
The best IMS platforms are designed to make inventory management easier and more efficient, saving you time and money in the long run.
With an IMS, you can focus on what's truly important – growing your business.
There are several benefits for using software to manage inventory in an ecommerce business, many of which we've covered throughout this post.
Here they are in list form:
An inventory management software can help reduce errors and improve accuracy by automating the process of tracking inventory levels and ensuring that all data is up-to-date.
With inventory management software, you can easily organize and categorize your products, making it easier to find what you need and keep track of everything.
Automating the process of tracking inventory can save time and reduce the need for manual data entry, allowing you to focus on other important tasks.
Enhanced customer experience:
With accurate and up-to-date inventory data, you can provide better customer service by being able to quickly check on product availability and provide accurate delivery estimates.
An inventory management software can help you analyze sales data and make more informed decisions about future orders and stock levels.
By reducing the risk of overstocking or understocking, an inventory management software can help you save money on excess inventory or lost sales due to unavailability.
Surprisingly, 43% of organizations still rely on manual inventory systems or need to track their inventory.
This is due to the perception that using an automated system instead of human inventory accounting will cost more money.
But does it make up for the expenses?
If we're to believe the aforementioned data, that means only 37% of manual inventory data is actually accurate.
Would you continue to patronize a business that had a 37% chance of shipping you the wrong order, running out of inventory, or incorrectly estimating your shipment date?
While the "topline" costs may be cheaper than an IMS, there's no way of knowing the actual cost of errors, lost sales and customer dissatisfaction due to manual inventory management.
Now that we've outlined the advantages of using software to manage inventory and a list of some of the most popular vendors, you might be wondering what to do next.
Ask 20 different businesses what the best tool for inventory management is, you and may very well get 20 different answers.
That's because every business is different, and what works for one may not be the best fit for another.
When choosing inventory management software, it's important to consider your business's specific needs and budget.
Here's a step-by-step guide to help you evaluate and purchase the best IMS for your particular use case:
Inventory management systems are truly a dime a dozen.
Before diving into a bunch of free trials and demos, it's important to pause, and assess the operational challenges within your business that an inventory management solution can solve.
If you're having trouble thinking of any, ask yourself the following questions:
The problem with most ecommerce businesses is that they frequently purchase software tools without sufficient information about the operational gaps.
They know there's a problem, and they know software can solve the problem, but they don't know what the problem is or how the software can solve it.
This leads to them purchasing a shiny new platform, poking around in there for a couple of months, and concluding that it's just not for them.
Then, they go back to their manual processes. At least those are safe, right? This is a problem, and it will stunt any business's growth if it's not addressed.
Knowing the answers to the questions mentioned above first-hand empowers you to evaluate your inventory management needs and narrows your search for the right inventory management platform.
Sure, we'd all love the most feature-rich, expensive inventory management platform on the market, but sometimes that's just not fiscally possible. Determine what your budget is and stick to it. That way, you won't be tempted by flashy features that offer little value in the long run.
However, choosing an inventory management solution should consider more than just the software's initial cost.
Depending on the inventory management software you select, you may also have to pay licensing fees and maintenance monthly or annually.
When selecting an inventory management solution, it's wise to establish two price points:
Between those two price points is likely going to be your best solution.
Now that you know what kind of features and functions you need from an inventory management system look for vendors who meet those needs.
If you've ever bought a house with someone else (or seen an episode of House Hunters), you know that homebuying is all about needs and wants.
Two people, usually a couple, each have their own must-haves and nice-to-haves.
As the show progresses and they view houses, they're negotiating back and forth to try to find a balance between the needs and wants of each. Needs are non-negotiable, while wants can be flexible. The same applies to shopping for business software, including inventory management software.
Go back up to the features listed above and review them against your own goals and analysis of your business.
Which among those features are needs? Which are wants?
Write these down and discuss these with your stakeholders. Certain things, such as inventory tracking and integration with existing software, will be must-haves.
You can't budge on these.
But other things like a certain reporting feature or a special customer service package may be luxuries that you can negotiate away if push comes to shove.
Once you have your list of needs and wants, it's time to do some research. Start by looking up the vendors on our list.
(And hey, since you're already here, why not check out our features page for more info about Linnworks?)
Once you've built out your shortlist of vendors, you can start going deeper by talking to sales reps or scheduling live demos of the software.
Make sure to go into any demo with a list of questions specific to your business. These can include things like:
Nothing is going to put a worse taste in your mouth than investing your hard-earned money into an IMS just to be kept on hold for an hour when something goes wrong.
After you've seen demos of all the platforms on your short list, it's time to make a decision. Here are some questions to guide you in your decision-making process:
Once you've answered these questions, it's time to pull the trigger!
Put in the effort to properly configure your software, and you'll reap the rewards of greater efficiency, more accurate reporting, and improved customer service.
Now that you've chosen an inventory management solution, it's time to actually implement it.
This is where a lot of people run into problems.
Having the right software is great, but if you don't know how to configure it and use it properly, then you might as well not have it at all.
Make sure you are familiar with all the features your software offers and that you have the right people on board to help you implement it properly.
(This is why it's important to make sure you've got onboarding resources for whatever software you choose.)
Finally, don't forget that software is a living thing. It needs to be maintained and updated regularly or it will become outdated quickly.
Make sure you have a plan in place for keeping your inventory management system up-to-date so
you can take advantage of the latest features and benefits.
Inventory software is essential for modern ecommerce businesses.
It allows businesses to streamline their inventory processes, save time and money, improve customer service and make more informed decisions.
In order to make an informed decision on what software is best for your business, you need to first assess your needs and wants.
Certain features will be essential, such as inventory tracking and integration with existing software, while other things may be considered luxuries.
Once you have a list of needs and wants, research the various vendors and request product demos.
To recap, here's our list of the best software to manage inventory in 2023:
Make sure to go into any demo with specific questions relevant to your business. After reviewing all the platforms, make a decision based on value, customer service reputation, long-term goals and industry references.
Finally, implement the software properly with the help of onboarding resources and maintain it regularly to take advantage of new features.
Speak to us to find out how Linnworks can connect and automate your commerce operations so you can capture every revenue opportunity.