This is a well-known fact. A fast and accurate fulfillment is pivotal to an excellent customer experience and a good first impression. It is cheaper to get happy customers to return and grow the business that way. The most important part of fulfillment is to have a good inventory control system.
The inFlow Inventory system is an inventory management solution that helps companies manage stocks and fulfillment seamlessly.
Owning a business application can be a significant investment. A small business owner often laments the costs required for such a system. It is not just about finances, but also the technical expertise required to set it up and the time required to learn how to use it.
inFlow Inventory is a subscription-based cloud application. That means a small business does not have to make big expenditures. Instead, they pay a monthly fee for the use of the system and data storage in the cloud. This is a cost effective approach to owning business software.
Let’s proceed to unpack this.
What is inFlow Inventory?
inFlow Inventory is an all-in-one inventory management solution. The software is installed on your Windows desktop computer. There is also a web browser version plus a mobile app (Android and iOS) too. At the time of this writing, there is no inFlow software for the MAC platform. That is not a hindrance as MAC users can use the web version.
The software is super easy to set up. Just sign up (i.e. create your User ID and password, enjoy the 14 days trial, and pay for the subscription when it is over), download and install the Windows desktop system, and log into the software using your User ID and password. It takes no more than 10 minutes to set it up.
The system has all the necessary features that make good inventory management – Product profile and listing, serialized products, product costing (FIFO, LIFO, moving average, manual), product barcodes, and different product prices (e.g. normal, VIP discount, user-defined pricing). It also has stock transfer, adjustments, counting, movement history, sales & purchasing units of measures (you may buy in bulk and sell in pieces), warehouse locations, and much more. Depending on your subscription, it supports work orders for a manufacturing environment.
inFlow Inventory’s unique selling points
There are some unique points to the way inFlow Inventory approaches inventory management.
The inFlow cloud database and its implications
The inFlow cloud database that stores your stock data is in the cloud. Specifically, the database resides on the Microsoft Azure cloud. So the mobile app, web browser system, and Windows software do not keep data locally on your mobile device or computer. In other words, it’s okay if your mobile phone or laptop gets stolen (well, kind of). The data is not there.
To use inFlow Inventory software, you need Internet access. What if there is no Internet access? Then you will not be able to access your data. But we live in an age where Internet access is the norm and available everywhere. Businesses rely on the Internet to receive orders via email or web stores. There are even medical dissertations about “Internet addiction disorder“.
But when you think about it, the advantages to the inFlow cloud far outweigh the downside. For a start, it means you can check for the latest stock level from anywhere, at any time, and using any device. You can make accurate fulfillment promises to your customer.
Data synchronization has improved a lot over the years but it occasionally still fails. Synchronizing your Google calendar on your Android phone isn’t instantaneous. There are timing issues. Sometimes, though quite rare, you will find double bookings in the same time slot.
But with a cloud database, the desktop systems and inFlow inventory app are looking at the same “source of truth”. There is no synchronization. A hot selling item reserved on desktop systems is immediately reflected on the inFlow inventory app.
Finally, you don’t have to be concerned about losing your data because the hard disk crashed or got corrupted. You don’t have to buy a backup disk or install backup solutions. Your data is managed and protected by the inFlow Inventory system.
Different features on different platforms
We commonly assume a mobile or web-based app should always perform the same function as a desktop system. That is simply not true. Let me prove you wrong. Read on.
With the inFlow Inventory system, there is a logical implementation of features on different solution platforms.
The most obvious is that the inFlow barcode scanner feature is only available in the mobile app. Yes, your mobile device becomes a bar code gun using the built-in camera. This makes sense because it is hard to use a laptop to scan barcodes.
Stock adjustments are made either on-the-fly or keyed in via the desktop. Hence, the stock adjustment feature only exists on the mobile app and Windows desktop software but not on the web browser system.
The count sheet and work order generation are desktop computer functions. You would typically print out the count sheet, record the counting on the sheet, and make the adjustments on-the-fly (with the mobile app) or back at your Windows desktop software. Data entry for a work order tends to be quite long and so it makes sense to only have that feature on the Windows desktop software.
It seems like there are pragmatic considerations as to where to implement a specific functionality and not make all platforms (i.e. mobile app, web, and Windows software) have the same features. I am inclined to think there is significant input from someone familiar with supply chain functionalities.
This means there are feature assumptions and sometimes they are wrong. The Stock Movement History feature is only available on the Windows desktop software. The feature is likely also handy on a mobile app for salespeople to look at movement trends.
Built-in support for Sales and Purchase Order
Many accounting systems support sales and purchase order creation and some basic inventory functionalities. This is to provide a more complete perspective of the accounting process.
In the same way, inFlow Inventory also supports creating, fulfilling (or receiving), and returning products from or for sales and purchasing orders. This is to provide a more complete perspective of the inventory control and asset tracking process.
inFlow Inventory’s support for Sales and Purchase Orders forces you to adhere to best inventory control practices.
For example, a stock is only removed when there is a sales order, when it is transferred to a different location/warehouse, or when stock is adjusted because it is damaged (it can also be removed if there is a Work Order). When a product is given to a customer as a free gift, it has to be recorded as a sales order with zero amount, and rightly so.
Supporting the Sales Order makes a seamless integration to your e-commerce store. Online orders are captured into the inventory control system as sales orders.
Built-in integration to Quickbooks online and Xero
Quickbooks Online and Xero are the 2 dominant cloud-based bookkeeping and accounting system in the market today. inFlow Inventory provides seamless integration to both systems.
This is a one-way integration. When the sales order is marked as invoiced or paid inside inFlow Inventory, it is then pushed to Quickbooks Online or Xero. Similarly when the purchase order is marked as received or to be paid, then inFlow Inventory will push the order to Quickbooks Online or Xero.
Unlike online accounting systems, inFlow Inventory does not support any payment collection via credit card or other means, unless you are a registered business in the United States and Canada. Even if you are, we highly recommend using Quickbooks Online or Xero instead. It makes functional segregation clear and easier to manage.
A typical question I get is “if Quickbooks Online and Xero already have inventory management, why do I still need inFlow Inventory?” Most obviously, the inFlow Inventory software is a very comprehensive solution for your inventory control. Accounting systems offer basic inventory control features. But more importantly, you would want to segregate responsibilities and roles based on different software. An inventory control system is intended for warehouse, sales, and procurement personnel. These people do not, or should not, have access to the accounting system (even if the software supports user IDs and restricted access).
A subscription based on business growth
Most Software-as-a-Subscription (SaaS) models are based on the number of users and an increase in functionalities. This is also true of the inFlow Inventory.
But they also take into consideration the number of sales orders per month. The most basic subscription, the Entrepreneur, is intended for a solopreneur. The package provides only 100 sales orders per month. In comparison to the Small Business subscription, it provides up to a total of 2,000 sales orders per month.
How inFlow Inventory can impact your sales
Always have up-to-date stock information
Always having the most up-to-date stock information is crucial to all businesses across all industry sectors. This is well-proven scientifically and all you have to do is search for dissertations on Google Scholar.
If you are running an appliance repair company, for example, knowing if you have the spare part means you can confidently tell your customer the repair will be done in 3 days, as opposed to 3 weeks if you don’t have the parts available.
Always deliver what is ordered online
Have you ever ordered something online only to be told (a few days) later that they ran out of stock?
Some online merchants circumvent this by showing less stock than they actually have so they can deliver what is promised. But that is “leaving money on the table” if you do have stock. Other merchants (more frequently) will show more stock than they have and scramble to fulfill it if the stock has run out.
inFlow Inventory directly integrates to your Shopify and WordPress/WooCommerce web store. Stock levels are accurately reflected on the web store. If a manual sales order (via inFlow Inventory directly) is created, the system will reserve the stock and the reduced quantity is reflected on the website.
The inFlow cloud database is the single source of truth for your stock availability.
Always have sufficient stock
A supply chain is often unpredictable. Sometimes the demand for a product surges unexpectedly and you might find ourself losing sales to your competitors.
inFlow Inventory can send reorder email reminders when the stock level reaches below minimum levels. This can be configured to check and send on a daily or weekly basis at specific hours of the day. On top of that, the inFlow Inventory system also provides reordering and forecasting reports to help you gauge movement and when to order.
A good practice is to include the supplier’s average (or maximum) delivery lead time in the calculation of the minimum level. In that way, you are never caught out without and minimize carrying too much stock.
Always treat your VIPs as very important
Your most valued customers, the VIPs, are the lifeline of your company. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to buy from you.
The inFlow Inventory Online Showroom is a way you can share your product information online with your customers, so they can see the products you sell, what’s in stock, and even take orders. You can determine which products and product information you want to show in the simple and customer-friendly catalog-style view.
You can configure the online showroom to display VIP discounts, as opposed to regular prices.
Note: You can take orders from Online Showroom but payment is only available if your business is registered in the United States or Canada.
Always aiming to reduce errors
Erroneous data entry is the biggest contributor to inventory control mishaps. It can be the wrong product, wrong quantity, wrong warehouse, wrong delivery dates, etc. Occasional errors are unavoidable but can be minimized by reducing data entry. This is where the barcode comes in.
inFlow Inventory supports the generating, printing, and scanning of barcodes. By having barcode labels printed for each product, the user can use the inFlow inventory mobile app or the inFlow barcode scanner (a separately sold accessory) to scan the code. Rather than enter the product ID manually, this greatly reduces the risk of selecting the wrong product. This increases accuracy for sales or purchase orders, the stock count, stock transfer, fulfillment or receipt, etc.
If speed is important, then the inFlow barcode scanner, called the Smart Scanner, is something that you will want to consider. It scans faster than the mobile app. Here is a comparison of scanning with the mobile app versus the inFlow barcode scanner.
There is no comparison between reading about the inFlow Inventory and watching it used in person. We would invite you to book an appointment here for a no obligations demonstration of the software solution.
Alternatively, you can also sign up for a 14-days free trial to try it out yourself. No credit card is required.