The 14 Best Inventory Management Software for Small Businesses of 2021

Inventory tracking and management is such a fundamental part of running a successful business that there are literally hundreds of software options to help you monitor your inventory data. But with so many options, how do you know which platform to choose?

Ultimately, the best inventory management software depends entirely on your business type. After all, there’s no point signing up for a system that includes wholesale order management if you don’t sell your products wholesale.

With that in mind, we’ve curated a list of our most-recommended inventory management solutions for each type of business. Among our favorites are Ordoro, inFlow Inventory, Upserve, Cin7, and TradeGecko. But ultimately, the right choice for your company comes down to your unique inventory needs.

Best inventory management software for small business

Compare the best inventory management software

Company
Starting price
Learn More
Ordoro

Ordoro

$499.00/mo.

$71.00/mo.*

$199.00/mo. + $50.00/mo. per POS terminal

$299.00/mo.

$0.00/mo.

$5,895.00

$4,395.00

Data effective 12/11/20. At publishing time, pricing is current but subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.
*With annual payment

1. Ordoro: Best for ecommerce

Ordoro

The right choice for all kinds of ecommerce

Ordoro is our recommended inventory management system for any business selling online. Between its multichannel selling features and dropshipping capabilities, this inventory software has everything you need to run an online store.

It’s hard to practice good inventory management techniques when you’re juggling multiple sales channels. Fortunately, Ordoro makes multichannel selling easier. With Ordoro, you can create master products within your inventory system, allowing you to update descriptions, images, branding, and more across all (or some of) your sales channels at your discretion.

Ordoro also offers vendor management features that make dropshipping a breeze. For instance, you can assign vendors to specific products in your catalogue. Then, anytime a customer orders those items, Ordoro can automatically send the order to the appropriate vendor, thereby cutting out the middleman (you), maximizing supply chain efficiency and ensuring your customers get their items as quickly as possible.

We also like that Ordoro makes nontraditional inventory management strategy possible. For instance, you can opt to strategically oversell your goods or limit the number of instock items visible to your customers—both of which create the illusion of scarcity and motivate your potential buyers to complete their purchase. Ultimately, this helps you turn a better profit and avoid storing expensive excess inventory.

To learn more about this ecommerce inventory management solution, check out our Ordoro review.

2. inFlow Inventory: Best budget buy

InFlow

Must-have features at a low cost

inFlow helps you maintain accurate stock levels and keep your business running smoothly—without making you pay the exorbitant rates charged by other inventory control software providers.

For businesses on a budget, inFlow Inventory is a great inventory management system. inFlow offers, in our opinion, the best free inventory management service on the market (inFlow On Premise). Or you can enjoy more features with inFlow’s paid plans—some of the cheapest available, starting at a low $71.00 per month.

Also, inFlow is remarkably easy to use, with many of its inventory tracking features automated. It’s even got a great mobile app that facilitates barcode scanning and keeps your sales agents and inventory manager on the same page for stock inventory levels.

One thing to keep in mind, though? inFlow Inventory is cheap because it’s more scaled back than other platforms on our list. While it makes managing inventory a breeze, inFlow enforces limits on the number of orders you can process. Even on the most expensive plan, you won’t be able to input more than 5,000 sales orders per month. If that’s a problem, you may want to check out another of our top budget choices, Zoho Inventory.

Be sure to read our inFlow Inventory review to get more details on the features and drawbacks of this low-cost inventory platform.

3. Upserve: Best for restaurants

Upserve

A unique platform for unique inventory needs

Restaurants need more than simple order management because restaurants use their inventory differently than other types of businesses. Fortunately, Upserve is an inventory management solution designed specifically to help restaurants.

Upserve provides a dynamic inventory solution for the unique needs of restaurants. Specifically, Upserve offers a greater focus on expiration date tracking and specialty supply chain needs (like refrigerated shipping) than other inventory control software options.

What’s more, Upserve provides features just for restaurants. For instance, you can use Upserve inventory software to create recipes for the dishes you sell, customizing each recipe with the precise ingredients and amounts needed. Then, when you sell that dish, Upserve can automatically deduct those quantities from your inventory levels for the ingredients used. You can even use this feature to determine pricing for your menu items and identify food waste.

We also like that Upserve comes with a built-in point-of-sale (POS) system—though admittedly, we don’t love that you’re restricted to using (and paying for) Upserve’s unique proprietary POS hardware. Still, if you’re running a restaurant, Upserve is probably the best inventory management software you could hope for.

4. Cin7: Best ERP solution

Cin7

Enterprise solutions at midsize costs

Cin7 offers an inventory management system that can do more than just inventory management. In fact, it’s a one-stop shop for all your business needs, including everything from inventory optimization to point-of-sale and manufacturing—pretty much everything except for accounting software.

Most enterprise resource planning (or ERP) platforms feature modules for every aspect of your business (like accounting, point of sale, inventory, and shipping)—and they charge you for each module you add to your plan. Those costs add up, making ERP systems outlandishly expensive for all but the largest companies.

Cin7 breaks the mold by offering built-in modules that come standard with your plan. In addition to a fully integrated POS system, Cin7 comes fully loaded with B2B ecommerce features, manufacturing features, and even a payment portal. And that’s all in addition to the barcode scanning, inventory tracking, and order fulfillment features you’d expect from your inventory solution.

Cin7 also offers advanced demand forecasting and multichannel support, including cross-channel syncing every five minutes. This ensures you have a dynamic inventory system that stays up to date, helping you achieve proper inventory management with minimal effort.

The downside? While Cin7 isn’t as expensive as most ERP solutions, it is among the more expensive platforms on our list (starting at $299.00 per month). Be sure to read our full Cin7 review to see if the service is right for your business.

Pricetag
Help for PPE providers

Right now, Cin7 is offering free services to any manufacturer or distributor of personal protective equipment (PPE) as part of its response to COVID-19. Check out Cin7’s website to see if you qualify and apply.

5. Zoho Inventory: Best for small businesses

Zoho

Free and low-cost plans with lots of features

Very small businesses don’t need all the tools and features that an enterprise-level company needs. Zoho caters to small businesses with free and inexpensive plans designed for companies with a limited number of orders per month.

Zoho Inventory has a lot to offer. For starters, Zoho offers a pretty comprehensive free plan that allows customers to accept backorders on out-of-stock items, arrange dropshipping, and handle multi-currency transactions. That gives small businesses a chance to keep their inventory organized without worrying about their limited budgets.

If you opt to upgrade your plan, though, you get enhanced features. You can manage multiple warehouses, enjoy serial number tracking and batch tracking, and sync multiple Shopify stores to your account.

Ultimately, though, we think Zoho works best for small businesses only. Even on the platform’s most advanced plan, businesses are limited to a total of 30,000 online and offline orders per month. Zoho also limits your invoices, warehouses, packing slips, and shipping labels—not great considering other software (like Cin7) costs roughly the same and doesn’t impose such restrictions.

But if you’re a small business that doesn’t need to fulfill thousands of orders per month, Zoho Inventory can be a very effective and inexpensive option.

6. Fishbowl Manufacturing: Best for manufacturing

Fishbowl

Local software with in-depth production features

Fishbowl Manufacturing is an excellent inventory control software if you need a way to track inventory levels in your production facility, assign work orders, and supervise manufacturing on multiple projects.

Fishbowl Manufacturing is our top choice for manufacturing businesses due to its advanced production management features.

For starters, Fishbowl Manufacturing lets you create advanced bills of material (BOMs). The platform features multi-level BOMs, allowing you to track inventory costs on an item-by-item basis for every job you complete. And because Fishbowl’s inventory software was made to integrate with QuickBooks accounting software, you can easily sync your inventory and accounting systems to keep track of these costs.

Fishbowl Manufacturing also features multi-level work orders, which allows you to group work orders across multiple production stages to create an overarching production plan. Each phase can be assigned to an individual employee and include its own instructions and build calculations. This helps you better track your manufacturing jobs and helps your clients with their supply chain management.

Keep in mind, though, that Fishbowl is a local software, so it’s only available on desktops and laptops. To get barcode scanning and other on-the-go warehouse features (like physical inventory counts), you’ll need to pay extra for the Fishbowl Go add-on. See our Fishbowl review to get more information.

7. Fishbowl Warehouse: Best for warehouse management

Fishbowl

Excellent value for warehousing

Fishbowl Warehouse makes it easy to check stock levels, pick and pack orders, and ship items to your customers. Plus, you don’t have to pay a monthly fee for your inventory management system.

In our opinion, Fishbowl Warehouse is the best inventory management software for warehouse management.

WIth Fishbowl Warehouse, you can track inventory levels for individual parts (not just complete products). This allows you to track manufacturing, storage, and labor costs for each individual part in your warehouse, which means a more detailed, in-depth cost of goods sold (COGS) calculation. You can even have help calculating your COGS since Fishbowl integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks accounting software.

Fishbowl Warehouse also includes built-in UPS shipping features, which allows you to print pick lists and shipping labels—all within your inventory system. Fishbowl also supports multiple warehouses, making it capable of handling more complex business models than many other inventory management solutions.

You can also get the Fishbowl Go add-on and get easy barcode scanning on your mobile device. And since Fishbowl is a local software, you pay one up-front fee and get lifetime access to your inventory software—no monthly fees. To find out more, read our complete Fishbowl review.

FAQs about inventory management software

What's the best way to keep track of inventory?

While there are a lot of methods for inventory tracking, managing inventory is easier and more accurate with inventory software.

There are a lot of inventory management software options available, each offering its own unique blend of item tracking, warehousing, production, supply chain, and order fulfillment features. That means the best inventory software for your business often depends on your business type and inventory needs. In general, though, we prefer Ordoro’s comprehensive feature list.

How can inventory management software help my business?

Finding the right inventory management software solution can help your business save time and money. Inventory software allows you to automate your inventory tracking, so you can keep real-time tabs on how much product you have in stock. You can also pair inventory software with barcode scanning for faster shipment processing in your warehouse.

Inventory management software also helps you cut down on costs. It helps you keep track of when to reorder, and it usually comes with advanced reporting so you can tell which products are selling well. In some cases, inventory software may also include demand forecasting, which helps you avoid the extra cost of excess inventory.

Check out our guide to how inventory management software can help you reduce costs for more info.

What's the best free inventory management software?

In our opinion, the best free inventory management software is inFlow On-Premise. In addition to helping you track inventory levels and basic order management, inFlow On-Premise supports multiple warehouse management. However, if you’re looking for a cloud-based option, Zoho Inventory is another excellent option.

Keep in mind, though, that free software options may not include all the order management, warehousing, and production features your business needs—and very few offer accounting software integration. To find out more, read our comprehensive guide to the top free inventory management software options.

Money
Another low-cost option

If you’re on a budget and have Microsoft Office, you may have a ready-made inventory optimization tool already. With Microsoft Excel, you can track all the data points you need to manage your inventory, optimize your supply chain, and keep your business organized. Check out our guide on how to use Excel to manage inventory to learn more.

Do I need any hardware to get my inventory management system started?

Certain types of hardware can help you integrate barcode scanning and on-the-go features. These hardware options can significantly simplify your inventory management, so it’s important to choose inventory software that integrates easily. The most commonly used inventory control hardware includes the following:

The takeaway

When it comes down to it, the best inventory management software depends a lot on your business size, model, and product type. While we definitely think Ordoro is the best inventory system overall, Upserve, Cin7, Zoho Inventory, Stitch Labs, and Fishbowl all offer excellent inventory tracking and stock management solutions for different types of businesses. And if you’re in need of a quality inventory system on a budget, inFlow Inventory is a top pick too.

Hopefully, this guide has given you enough information to make an educated decision on what type of system will work best for your business.

Not sure if inventory tracking software is right for your business? That’s cool. But even if you opt not to use software, every business needs a way to manage their inventory and supply chain. Find out more in our guide to why inventory management is important.

88% of Small-Business Owners Experience Shoplifting

In 2019, over one million shoplifting cases were reported, with an average of $318 lost per shoplifting incident.1 But that’s just what’s reported to the FBI—most crime isn’t reported, and most reported crimes are not solved.2

According to our survey of small-business owners, the shoplifting numbers for 2020 are expected to be worse:

  • 40% of small-business owners say shoplifting has increased since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • During peak shopping seasons, like back-to-school or holiday shopping, 64% of small-business owners experience an increase in shoplifting.

Most small businesses experience shoplifting

In America, 88% of small-business owners have had a customer shoplift from their store. Over 29% of small-business owners report weekly shoplifting in their store, while 14% report daily shoplifting.

How do small businesses respond to shrink?

  • 32% of small-business owners increase product prices to make up for shrinkage. 
  • 64% of small-business owners have called the police because of shoplifting.
  • 28% have had a shoplifting incident turn violent.
customer shoplifting

When small-business owners catch a customer stealing, they can prevent inventory loss 59% of the time, but 40% of the time, the shoplifter gets away with the merchandise.

Customers aren’t the only ones stealing

  • Only 30% of small-business owners report that they haven’t had their employees commit theft at their store.
  • 32% report catching employees stealing on camera.
  • 38% have personally caught the employee stealing.
employee shoplifting stats

Employees who steal are most likely to steal money, followed by food and drink. These items may be less likely to be noticed by employers and may be stolen more easily over time than more obvious higher-value products.

How do people shoplift from your store?

Thieves come up with some clever schemes for stealing, but unlike the movies, the simplest ways to conceal are the most common. Most shoplifters hide merchandise in a backpack or purse, their pockets, and baby strollers.

Small-business owners’ personal experience with shoplifting

shoplifting stats

When you run a small business, you must meet your bottom line—but what about all the other aspects of your business and personal life? How does shoplifting affect them? Business owners may involve the law, risk violence, or lose time and money, inevitably adding more stress.

If you’re a small-business owner looking to invest in security, you must weigh the costs and risks associated with shoplifting.

A decent AI security technology like Walmart and other big-box retailers.

So how can small-business owners prevent, reduce, and combat shoplifting and other inventory loss?

Inventory management software helps small-business orders keep track of theft and other shrink

Over two-thirds (68%) of small-business owners report using inventory management software. And 79% of those small-business owners say that keeping track of their inventory is how they know merchandise has been stolen.

We recommend security cameras, clear shoplifting policies, and other preventative measures. Still, inventory management software is an easy way to prevent shoplifting and know what’s in your store at all times.

Methodology

zhulitouzi.com partnered with Pollfish to conduct an anonymous survey of 650 small-business owners who have brick-and-mortar locations regarding their shoplifting experiences. We then analyzed the results to compile this report. To learn more about Pollfish and how they organically find respondents, check out their methodology.

Sources

  1. FBI, “Crime Data Explorer,” 2019. Accessed November 16, 2020.
  2. John Gramlich, Pew Research, “5 Facts about Crime in the US,” October 17, 2019. Accessed November 16, 2020.

Disclaimer

At zhulitouzi.com, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Courtenay Stevens
Written by
Courtenay Stevens
Courtenay cut her teeth (and occasionally her tongue) on the world of business when she was eight years old, licking envelopes to help her dad mail calendars to his clients. Ever since, she has fostered a passion for entrepreneurship, which makes small business one of her favorite topics to write about. When Courtenay isn’t writing, she enjoys podcasting about pop culture and attempting to keep up with her hellspawn (aka children).
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