Affordability is important to everyone. Whether you’re looking for a great deal or making sure that you’re on budget. Affordability then is about the right fit at the right price and provides the best value. This is especially true in business and certainly applies when choosing an inventory management solution.
When choosing an inventory management solution price tag is certainly important, but if the solution doesn’t meet your needs, then you might end up paying more later. So, first thing would be to make a list of considerations to evaluate like costs, return on investment, ease of use, functionality, and features. Think of factors that will either make a solution the right one, or that may be a deal breaker for your business. These considerations will then narrow the pool and from this you will be able to then start evaluating what is the best affordable option. On top of affordability, it will also help in determining what is the right inventory management solution for the job. This in turn will help change the focus from being entirely on the lowest cost solution and which doesn’t meet your needs to the one that does.
So, let’s dive in and talk about some of these considerations briefly with the aim of picking an affordable, yet reliable inventory management solution. You’ll then be able to compare the solution that will best fit your business on an even playing field.
Let’s look at cost. Instead of purely looking at the listed cost of purchasing inventory management software, whether perpetual or subscription based, think of the expenses that are a little harder to see, or else not advertised. These may include system upkeep fees, development, implementation costs, and support fees. So before deciding, try to ascertain what those associated costs will be. Will you be paying large sums yearly to maintain your inventory management solution, or is the system reliable and user friendly enough that these costs are limited?
In an ideal world you can find a solution where the numbers add up both short and long term. If the solution is only going to cause headaches later due to limitations and user friendliness, despite being the lowest cost option, perhaps your money could be better spent elsewhere.
Cost leads well into our next consideration and speaks to affordability in bounds. Return on investment, or ROI. If an inventory management system costs more than another it may in fact still be more affordable in both the short and long term. Like anything in business figuring the true cost of something needs to be calculated in a layered approach. Taking the cost of your inventory management solution, calculate how that solution is saving you elsewhere. Perhaps you have greater efficiency and are fulfilling more orders, is less inventory going to waste, does the solution have features that make work and tasks easier. The list can go on. Now, you may pay a slightly higher premium for a particular inventory management solution, but if it is having a greater impact on cost savings versus a comparable but cheaper solution, then your ROI may be higher, thus improving affordability.
Inventory management solutions can be complex beasts by comparison next to many SaaS systems. They may not be the easiest solutions to wrap your head around and that’s where user friendliness and ease of use come into play. Inventory management systems should not make your work more difficult or a struggle. If you’re constantly trying to find work arounds or simply not using functionality because it is too difficult then the solution is not living up to its potential, and neither is your business, even if it costs less.
User friendliness not only comes down to user experience, but training as well. Like we mentioned inventory management systems can be complex, but if they are user friendly and matched with reliable straight forward training, then becoming proficient does not take much time. So, ask companies what their training experience is like. Do they have training documentation that you can refer to later? Get a sense for the solutions layout and UX and UI.
If in the end bringing people up to speed is a fairly smooth process, and the solution works for and with you, then you know that you’re getting bang for your buck.
As we can see affordability means looking past the initial price. Consider that if you purchase an inventory management solution that is low cost it may work well, initially. But what are the long term ramifications to your business when you start grow? Perhaps in the cost analysis you realize that there are higher fees to pay later for greater functionality, or for potential development to extract new functionality. Whereas going with a higher price point initially will avoid such costs in the mid and long term.
Consider Akatia’s WMS solution, WAM. WAM offers a competitive price point for inventory management solutions but works and grows with your business. As well it offers terrific functionality out of the box, which can be expanded on, and scale is not an issue. There are certainly other inventory management solutions that are less expensive, but lack functionality and scalability, while others are much more expensive yet do not necessarily offer more. In that sense WAM offers a great affordability comparison and high ROI.
Flexibility is key to any inventory management solution. You pay for what you need now while knowing that your business won’t outgrow or tax your inventory management solution. As you scale up, you can take advantage of the features which will become indispensable to you, like multiple warehouse management, cycle counts, order automation, amongst others. This way you won’t have to spend more time, effort, and above all money later on once your lower cost, inflexible solution reaches its limits.
So, what is an affordable inventory management system? Affordable is the solution that will fit your needs now, and in the future, at the investment point that makes best sense for your business. Keep that in mind and you will find the right and most affordable solution, and not just the cheapest one.