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Online inventory management refers to the systematic use of Web-based software to maintain updated information for a company's products and services. Many organizations have traditionally used installed software applications for this purpose; however, trends have been moving in the direction of Web-based applications. An online inventory management system is used to track existing numbers of products, outgoing orders, the status of deliveries, the number of recent sales of each product, and those products which may be overstocked or understocked. Depending on the industry, inventory management software can also be used to create invoices, bills of sale, and work orders.
Many business owners find the use of online inventory tracking systems advantageous for several reasons. The use of an online portal allows for easier employee access when products are being tracked over a large geographic area with multiple stops between warehouses and retail locations. As long as each location has Internet access, company employees can access updated information about each product order as it is in transit. Additionally, the cost of installing software in multiple locations can be prohibitive for smaller businesses. Online systems eliminate this additional expense.
User access to Web-based systems can help speed up the inventory control process. Online inventory management allows employees stationed in different locations throughout a nation, or even the world, to perform tasks such as tracking orders and monitoring product levels. The ability to perform these tasks instantaneously from any location saves companies significant amounts of time and resources each year when compared to manual tracking systems.
In addition to storing inventory information online, there is a movement among software developers to reduce the learning curve with newer brands of online inventory management software. Many management teams have found some of these software packages time-consuming to learn as well as costly each time a new employee needs to be trained to use them. One of the most frequently requested criteria for an online inventory management system is the ability for the user to intuitively create charts and reports that contain required information but are simple to understand at the same time.
Compared to traditional desktop software, the option of using an online system can create more flexibility for busy professionals. Just as with accessing a Web browser, managers can access up-to-the-minute information on inventory and sales at any time, even while they are traveling. The increasing use of smartphones has also led to an increase in the demand for mobile versions of Web-based inventory management applications.