How do small businesses keep track of inventory for free?

Inventory Management
3 min read
small business inventory tracking for free

Keeping track of inventory sounds simple - but it rarely is. Inventory management is a major pain for a lot of small businesses.

Tracking inventory is what helps small businesses keep track of their current products and raw materials. This information can be used to plan your productions, make sales, purchase inventory, forecast sales and more.

With poor inventory management, small businesses might end up producing more or less than they need. Inventory is an asset, having too much or too little can cause cash flow problems, lost sales and upset customers. 

Luckily, there are several ways small businesses can keep track of their inventory for free. In this article we will go through each so you can decide the right one for your business.

What are the different methods of tracking inventory for free? 

There are a few different ways to track inventory for free: 

  • Using Excel or google sheets
  • Using pen and paper
  • Modern inventory management software (such as Brahmin Solutions)

Each of the methods has its own advantages and disadvantages. Considering all the options will help you decide which method benefits your business the most. 

Read More: 5 reasons why inventory management is important

Using Excel or Google Sheets

Spreadsheets, like Excel or Google Sheets are a good free way for businesses to keep track of their inventory levels if their needs are straightforward. What is considered straightforward? When you don’t manage too many finished and raw materials. Under 50-75 items is a good rule of thumb. Anything more, it can be difficult to keep track of inventory levels and it involves too much manual work.

Pros: 

  • Can be set up quickly, a good way to get started
  • No equipment necessary, besides a computer
  • Can be fairly customized
  • Easy to understand

Cons:

  • Can be very time consuming to maintain 
  • Grows in complexity as your business grows
  • Still have to gather information manually and then enter it into a spreadsheet
  • Difficult to share with your other team members if you not saving it to the cloud
  • Very basic and doesn’t offer much beyond the basic inventory tracking
  • No way to set alerts for low inventory levels and other important dates
  • Error prone 
  • Can’t link barcodes or images

Using Pen and Paper

Another way to track inventory is through the use of pen and paper. This can be something as simple as a whiteboard or a spreadsheet. This method is best for businesses with a small number of SKUs and simple inventory needs. The downside of this method is that it can be time-consuming to keep track of inventory levels manually, and it can be easy to make mistakes.

Pros:

  • Quickest to set up and get going
  • Does not require any special equipment or software
  • Any non tech savvy person can even set this up

Cons:

  • Is less accurate than other methods
  • Extremely difficult to share with other members of your team
  • Very time-consuming to maintain
  • Must be updated constantly
  • Impossible to get reports, forecast or interpret data
  • No way to backup or store data is paper is lost‍

Using inventory management software (such as Brahmin Solutions)

Pros:

  • Is quick and easy to use
  • Traceability for businesses that need it
  • Offers a variety of features beyond basic inventory tracking
  • Can be used to track a variety of inventory items
  • Complete production control
  • Order management
  • Wholesale management
  • Safely secures data
  • Collaborative, great for teams

Cons:

  • May be more expensive than other methods
  • Requires special software
  • May be time consuming to set up

So, which method is right for you?

The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including the size of your business, the complexity of your inventory, and your budget.

If you have a small business with very simple inventory needs, you may be able to get by with tracking your inventory using Excel or Google Sheets.

If you have a larger business with a more complex inventory, you may need to invest in an inventory management software.

No matter which method you choose, the important thing is that you track your stock regularly. This will help you to keep on top of your stock levels and avoid any surprises down the road.

Introducing Brahmin Solutions

Brahmin Solutions is an MRP and inventory management software that is designed specifically for manufacturers. It offers a variety of features beyond basic inventory tracking, including production planning, lot tracking, location and consignment tracking, and material costing.

Brahmin Solutions is quick and easy to use, and it offers a free trial so you can try it out before you commit to a subscription. Brahmin Solutions also comes with a dedicated team that is available around the clock to answer any questions and ensure your business is successful. 

 

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