Comparing the Top Resource Planning and Inventory Solutions
Inventory management and resource planning are critical elements for every brand. After all, If your marketing campaigns, suppliers, logistics, and accounting are all on point — but the ability to get inventory to customers and retailers fail — you lose the opportunity at best.
Brands and retailers have seen this firsthand over the past two years. The core issue is inventory, from low supply to inventory glut, deflation to rapid inflation.
As a rule, those able to stabilize or improve inventory turn seem in a better position overall.
Inventory, for all product-based businesses, is the lifeblood that flows through the veins of every brand and retailer. Turn marks the ability for that life to flow through to the world.
There needs to be more inventory, both too much and too little, to ensure your opportunity to maximize profits.
Too little product and the problems are self-evident. If, on the other hand, you have excess inventory, you’re dealing with additional overhead and, in the worst case, simply have to absorb a loss.
Currently, we live in a world that has nearly every brand problem at the same time.
Too much inventory in some cases due to bulk shipments that arrived late. Too little stock, also due to supply chain issues, making it harder to roll out new lines.
These issues move outward to all other aspects of your business. For example, pricing, adding sales channels, getting accurate inventory and sales reporting all matter to move products both in and out.
Again, it all comes back to inventory and resource management.
Resource Planning Isn’t “All or Nothing”
Several solutions make managing inventory easier, faster, and less error-prone.
The challenging part is finding a (single) solution matching your needs best. It’s difficult to achieve.
However, it’s possible to shift that mindset from one solution to rule them all, to the potential of a supplemental solution. An additional tool, working with your current ERP or inventory solution, opens up the possibilities, creating a more fluid process, and achieving more growth for your brand.
Sure, one solution would provide everything you need. But as we see in dealing with the current retail scenarios, “ideal” isn’t always an option.
This guide walks through four solutions that offer a broad range of features to help brands, retailers, and all product-based businesses manage their operations. Each solution reviewed includes five categories:
- Inventory Management
- Sales channels
- Pros and cons
Table of Contents
Brand and Retail Scenarios
- Problem one: Inventory glut
- Problem two: Low turnover
- Problem three: Preserving brand image
Choosing the best solution for your business
NetSuite is possibly the largest player in the cloud-based ERP space. But, as is often the case with products from major corporations like Oracle, their products are intended to do it all.
NetSuite covers accounting, supply chain management, inventory, sales, and human resources needs. And it is for this reason that it has become one of the more popular solutions for businesses when it comes to inventory management.
One of the main reasons why many businesses gravitate toward NetSuite is its robust inventory management capabilities. It provides a real-time view of inventory across all sales channels and locations. This ability ensures that you always have the most up-to-date data to make all your inventory forecasting decisions with confidence.
Also, since it is all cloud-based, tracking multiple locations and reporting is somewhat easier.
Netsuite has one of the most robust CRM and sales channel management systems. It has steadily become one of the industry standards since it quickly help you keep track of every customer interaction and gain full visibility of your team’s performance across the whole sales lifespan.
NetSuite takes care of the fulfillment needs through its Order Management suite. This part of the Netsuite ecosystem allows its users to automate and manage a customer’s order throughout its whole lifecycle. Its main advantage is that it lets you see everything from a single data source.
This way, you don’t have to look into every sales channel. Instead, every order is tracked by the system so that you can get consistent information that will help you keep your customer experience satisfactory.
One of the main advantages of being a cloud-based ERP is that it makes reporting incredibly easy.
You don’t need to worry about requesting reports from multiple locations or improving proper data entry. NetSuite automates this process for you and ensures you can generate the reports you need with only a couple of clicks.
- It is an all-in-one solution.
- Wide adoption across just about every industry.
- Industry and company size-specific versions are available.
- It is an all-in-one solution, but certain features are apparent and become expensive add-ons. Unfortunately, you will have to migrate all your processes to fit NetSuite’s framework.
- Not practical for smaller businesses that only need some of its capabilities.
Channel Advisor is a multichannel solution for eCommerce businesses. It does this by focusing on the most relevant aspects of this demographic of companies. This desire for usability includes integrations with digital marketing, sales journey tracking, product fulfillment, brand analytics, and multi-channel expansion.
One element that differentiates Channel Advisor from the rest of the competition is that they also offer consulting services. So if you are looking to hire outside help, whether as external consultants or to use them as an external partner Channel Advisor is a good option.
Channel Advisor has a somewhat unique approach to inventory management. They see it as part of the fulfillment process. So all of the inventory management functions are found under their fulfillment tools.
This approach makes sense for eCommerce businesses. However, making the model fit companies with different structures may take a lot of work.
Channels are the area of biggest emphasis for Channel Advisor. And for a good reason. Sales channel management can be a big challenge for brands that rely exclusively on eCommerce to drive revenue.
Channel advisor has a series of tools and integrations that help you keep track of and manage how your customers react to and buy from all the channels your brand has a presence in. For example, it lets you quickly check the performance of your digital marketing efforts and their impact across your sales channels significantly easier.
Channel Advisor takes advantage of its deep channel integrations to automate the fulfillment process. It allows you to fulfill from various sources like your warehouses, FBA, or 3rd party logistic partners.
Overall, it emphasizes fulfillment agility to ensure that no matter the conditions, your orders will always stay on track.
The focus on its reporting functionality is designed to help you optimize your entire process. For this reason, it makes it easy to see the relationship between your marketing, its impact on your sales, and how your inventory is managed.
Also, it makes it easy to see the performance of all your sales channels in real time due to its robust integration capabilities.
- Designed to meet the needs of eCommerce businesses
- Deep channel integrations
- Functional sales and marketing optimization tools
- Not designed to fit the needs of smaller businesses
- Not designed to integrate hybrid sales models
Cin7 is a product designed to improve your whole team’s inventory and order management experience. They do this by giving you more options and flexibility in using the platform. Instead of forcing you to adapt to their ecosystem, Cin7 can integrate with your existing tech stack.
Some of its featured integrations are ShopifyPlus, Xero, Amazon, and Quickbooks. This way, you don’t have to change how you run your entire business if all you are looking for is improving your inventory management capabilities.
Inventory management is another area where Cin7 puts emphasis. Even though they provide some additional functionality, they mostly center around their inventory and order management capabilities.
They offer all the features you would expect from a top-of-the-line ERP, such as automated tracking, return inventory management, barcode inventory, FIFO, and third-party logistics.
Even though it can integrate with several sales channels, Cin7’s leading integration is with Amazon’s sales channel ecosystem. If deep sales channel management is high on your priority, you must ensure support for those channels to the extent that you need them on the Cin7 platform.
Cin7 features a robust fulfillment module as part of its higher pricing plans. It includes most of the features you would expect from an ERP suite but is designed to be easy to use.
These features include warehouse management, packing and shipping, and batch and expiry tracking.
Cin7’s reporting capabilities center around its inventory management modules. Since it is cloud-based, it allows you to generate real-time reports that give you extensive inventory visibility at every stage and across every channel.
- Designed to integrate with your existing tech stack
- Focused on inventory management
- Real-time reporting
- Multi-tiered pricing includes a tier for small businesses
- Not an all-in-one platform
Growing businesses face a variety of challenges when it comes to inventory management. The biggest one is that they need help finding products that can grow with them and won’t require a massive rethinking of how they run their business.
With this in mind, Inverge gives brands and retailers the tools they need—when they’re needed.
Functionality based on current needs means not forcing businesses to pay for any modules or services already covered through other solutions while still providing world-class inventory management tools.
Whether your operation is big or small, Inverge provides you with a complete toolset to make sure that your inventory is optimally managed. The features include support for multiple warehouses, barcode generation, purchase order management, stock level monitoring, and inventory location tracking.
Also, it allows you to integrate with frequently used tools such as eBay, Google Shopping, Magento, and more.
Being able to sell across various channels, including physical locations, is necessary for many businesses. Inverge gives you all the tools you need to ensure you can manage your inventory across every channel, including physical locations.
Additionally, it allows you to take payments directly with app-based POS. This way, you can control every aspect of your sales channel in real-time and precisely.
Inverge provides robust fulfillment support since this is critical to ensuring your business needs to sustain growth. With Inverge you’ll be able to create rules and automate and track your entire fulfillment process.
Inverge supports a variety of scenarios through its modules — Such as:
- Inventory in multiple locations
- 3PL tracking
- Dropshipping (from boutique shops to big retailers like Dick’s, Macy’s, etc.)
- Third-party platform sales (Amazon, Walmart, even eBay)
The biggest differentiator between Inverge and the other solutions on this list is the ability to sync together fulfillment from all of your channels and connect with an existing ERP.
Visualizing and sharing the correct information at the right time is a fundamental requirement for making the best decisions and avoiding big potential headaches. Inverge provides you with all the reporting tools you need to ensure you minimize the time spent creating reports while having all the information available to you and your accounting team.
Some of the main capabilities are vendor invoice management, product performance tracking, warehouse performance, and the ability to create and schedule custom reports so that you always have the right information.
- Integrates seamlessly with your existing tech stack (works with ERPs as easily as it can replace them)
- Different pricing bundles to match the needs of each business
- small-to-medium brand friendly
- Great for standing up omnichannel sales channels quickly
- Not an all-inclusive ERP platform
Choosing the best solution for your business
One of the main reasons why it can be challenging to find the best inventory solution for your business is that it often feels like you need to either compromise or over-commit. Unfortunately, this means many more flexible products don’t offer the features and functionality you need to improve.
On the other hand, the bigger platforms that have everything you need force you into their ecosystem. So you have to go through a considerable migration and implementation process, which can be expensive and distracting from your growth goals.
You don’t need to compromise on functionality, nor do you need to commit to changing everything.
Instead, with Inverge, you can keep what is already working best for you and make a measurable improvement in managing your inventory and much more. Every business is different, and Inverge is designed to help you find the perfect solution for your business.
And as we continue to see the whole retail sector impacted by external pressure, such as supply chain problems, a volatile economy, and increased competition.
Brands and retailers need to ensure that their entire operation runs as smoothly as possible. But, at the same time, they optimize their resources by not having to incur extensive implementation and onboarding costs just to add new tools to their tech stack.