One of the biggest hassles for small businesses is tracking and managing inventory. Whether you own a mom & pop shop, a family restaurant, a boutique, salon, or plant store, poor inventory management is a major downfall for every business, no matter the industry.

Luckily, there are plenty of inventory management system options available to save small business owners time, stress, and money. Read on for our top recommendations that can help you manage your inventory and improve inventory management processes for your business.

What is retail inventory management?

Retail inventory management is exactly what it sounds like: keeping track of, and managing, your business’s stock of products through the supply chain. This means making sure you have enough product to fill demand, without overestimating and ending up with an excess of product that nobody is buying (otherwise known as “dead stock”). Underestimating demand can also become a problem when it comes to inventory management. Low stock means failing to order enough product and possibly missing out on sales that could’ve been made had the product been in stock on the shelf. Order management and supply chain management are essential to a retail business’s success.

That might seem simple, but as a small business owner, you know that managing product stock is anything but simple. Manual inventory tracking is a time-consuming and error-prone process. A much more effective inventory process is to look for a software solution that will save your business time and money.

Whether you run an online store or a brick-and-mortar location, you need a way to manage your inventory. You need an inventory management system. There are a million inventory management system solutions available, so it can be difficult to know where to start. Luckily, in this article, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite cloud-based inventory management solutions with different options to fit your business’s unique inventory needs, reduce costs, and impact your bottom line.

Choosing an inventory management system.

In order to choose a good inventory management solution for your retail business, there are several factors that should be considered. There are many other components that go into retail inventory management, including product locations (a brick-and-mortar location, a warehouse, etc.), analysis of which products are selling well versus those that are not, profit margins, analysis of when to discontinue a product, lifecycle and expiration of products, and more.

products on display at retail store

When a business chooses not to invest in an efficient system for inventory management, they will lose money through waste (ex: a grocery store had too much produce in stock and items rotted before they could be sold) or missed sales (ex: a customer came in looking for an item but couldn’t make the purchase because the store didn’t order enough product so it wasn’t in stock). As retail business owners, one of the most important business decisions to make is how to manage inventory.

Retail inventory management software helps business owners keep track of everything, and many components are automated so nothing has to be done by hand and the margin of error is much, much lower. The friction at the point of sale can be reduced by ensuring that the merchandise purchased is accounted for, purchase orders are all able to be fulfilled, and customers are happy. Not to mention your business’s cash flow is correctly managed, you save time and money, and your inventory data is correct.

Cloud-based inventory management systems.

Cloud-based inventory management systems use sophisticated calculation models to provide real-time inventory updates, calculate the rate of turnover for inventory, calculate product profits, and more. Advanced retail inventory management software can provide inventory planning and demand forecasting—this means less time crunching numbers or trying to guess the future for your business. By using an inventory management system, business owners can create a smoother business operation experience for themselves and their employees.

With the right inventory management system, business owners can easily track when more product needs to be ordered, which items are selling well, how seasonal trends are impacting business, and more. With a smoother inventory control operation system, businesses can provide a better customer experience, which leads to better reviews, and more sales.

Two women discussing a lotion in a retail location.

Best retail inventory management for small businesses.

There are a few things you need to know before choosing the right inventory management system for your business. Here are a few things to consider:

  • How big is your business?
  • How many locations do you operate?
  • What are the data complexity needs of your business?
  • What software are you already using and will you need integrations?
  • How much product is moving through your warehouse inventory currently?
  • What is your growth projection?
  • What management features are you looking for?
  • Are you also in need of accounting software?
  • Do you sell across multiple channels?
  • What is your current POS system?
  • Do you need your sales data updated in real-time?

Each software has different strengths and weaknesses and depending on your business needs, different software solutions will make more sense for you. If you’re just getting started with your business and looking at the above questions makes your head spin, don’t worry. For small business owners just starting out with retail inventory management software, we recommend just keeping it simple. 

Best inventory management software.

We get it. You’re a small business owner. You’re busy. You’re focused on sales and the bottom line to keep your business afloat. You need to keep track of your inventory, but you don’t want to manage it yourself. You need an effective inventory management solution. Choosing the right inventory management system for your business will depend on what your business needs. Check out our list of inventory control software that can provide retail inventory management for small business.


Inventory tracking is simple with Zoho. With a wide variety of options, Zoho is a great choice for small businesses on a tight budget. They offer a simple free platform as you’re just starting out, and lots of helpful add-on features as your business grows and expands. Zoho also offers a free, personalized 2-hour onboarding session with their product experts so you can hit the ground running with your new software! They also have a free Business Resource Center for ongoing business development.


While their beginner inventory management subscription option is relatively bare-boned, this software is known for being a top choice for mid-size or larger growing retailers with multiple sales channels. Perhaps one of the best selling points of their mid- and high-end subscriptions is that they include an automated dropshipping feature that is convenient and easily accessible for vendors. Ordoro offers a free 30-day trial period, no set-up fees, and convenient monthly subscription options. 


Upserve is a popular inventory management system choice for restaurants looking to grow and scale. While their inventory management option is included in the mid- and high-end subscriptions, you’ll have to pay to add it on if you choose the starter subscription. All of their inventory software subscriptions include the use of a live mobile app and 24/7 support for US-based businesses, so you can make full use of all of the features in your software. 


There are many different options available when it comes to retail inventory management for small businesses. The right software is an excellent tool for managing your small business inventory and creates a more efficient, streamlined system that will lead to better feedback.

Plus, you’ll have plenty of time freed up to focus on things like customer experience, marketing, and moving on to the next big thing. While it can seem daunting to purchase and set up at first, choosing the right inventory management software can mean big wins for your business. 

Eric Fuessel
Eric Fuessel Director of Retail & Hospitality Sales

Eric Fuessel is a retail professional at Podium, the leading messaging platform that connects consumer businesses with their customers.

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