Managing inventory presents a number of challenges no matter what field your business is in, but it’s especially challenging for companies in the apparel and fashion industries.
Because styles change on a seasonal (and sometimes shorter) basis, apparel retailers can find themselves completely updating and overhauling their inventory every few months.
While some things will always be staples, the ever-evolving fashion scene dictates that styles will come and go with a regularity that other industries don’t experience.
Because of this, it’s vitally important to have all of your inventory management ducks in a row.
If you’re not using modern inventory management software and are simply tracking all your stock manually, you’ll likely find you’re spending more time managing your inventory than necessary – and potentially making even more work because for yourself and your employees because you’ll likely encounter more inventory errors.
Today, we’ll talk about how utilizing inventory management software for the apparel industry can help keep your business looking its best. Good inventory management never goes out of style.
Is apparel software just clothing inventory?
When smaller companies hear about wholesale apparel inventory management software, the most common response is, “Isn’t that just a clothing inventory app?”
And while inventory management software will indeed help apparel retailers keep track of what clothes they have in the store and backroom, there’s also much more to it than that.
Apparel industry software will not only track your inventory, it can also assist you in keeping accurate counts of materials, tracking items if you manufacture things, give you insights into your retail sales by channel, location, and more.
Beyond that, some solutions offer full product lifecycle management tools, while others will assist with inventory forecasting. All will offer up a full suite of reports to help you understand the data you’re accumulating.
As you learn more about what apparel inventory management software can do for you, the question quickly changes from, “Do I really need this?” to “why wasn’t I using these resources sooner?”
So, if you think apparel software is just another tool to tell how many pairs of jeans you currently have in stock, you’re missing the big picture. This software can help you take your business to the next level.
Ready to dive in and learn more?
Can apparel inventory software help lower inventory errors?
Even if you aren’t a huge apparel wholesaler with suppliers and warehouses around the globe, inventory management software can still help your business flourish.
The most obvious way it helps you achieve this goal is by reducing inventory errors.
Inventory errors can have a ripple effect on your business. Incorrect counts can:
- Prevent you from recognizing shrink and theft
- Cost you money in lost sales when customers order things that aren’t actually in stock
- And more
Simply working to eliminate inventory errors can have a major impact on your business. Here are the four main ways it can help you improve your bottom line and make your retail operations more effective.
By simply knowing how the number of items you have on hand, you can greatly improve your business’s efficiency.
Inventory management software helps you become better organized by allowing you to know, at the push of a button, how much inventory you have in stock, where that stock is located, and so on.
This prevents the sale of out-of-stock items (which leads to unhappy customers) and overstocking (which can cost you extra money in the form of carrying and storage costs).
With better organization, you’ll also spend less man-hours on inventory and organizational tasks, freeing your employees to do things with a better return on investment for your business.
Less manual data entry
If you track your inventory manually, you’ve probably already learned that putting numbers onto an Excel spreadsheet is not only time-consuming but filled with instances where errors can occur.
One typo can throw off a huge chunk of your inventory data, causing you to spend hours trying to solve the problem.
With modern ERP solutions for the apparel industry, there are far fewer opportunities for these manual errors to occur.
Today’s software makes use of barcode scanning and point of sale inventory tracking – putting much of the tracking work into the capable hands of computer software.
These apps and software packages are highly customizable and can be set up to meet your specific needs – meaning they can be as detailed or simplistic as you choose. At the end of the day, though, you can rest easier knowing the potential for manual data entry errors is greatly reduced.
With everything tracked through software or apps, the amount of paperwork required to manage your inventory is dramatically reduced.
Toss out the spreadsheets and the like – today’s total apparel management tools will give you all of the information you need at the push of a button.
Whether you’re looking for a detailed granular view of how a specific product has done over the past year, or a high-level overview of what you’ve sold in the last hour, the answers are literally at your fingertips.
Put away your calculators and notepads – they’re wholly unnecessary at this point.
Better customer relations
If you’ve ever had a customer order a product only to find out that product wasn’t in stock (even though you thought it was), then you know how damaging that can be from a customer relations perspective.
In today’s global market, customers have options – and if you can’t fulfill their needs, odds are they’ll go to another company that can. And they may not ever come back to your business.
Inventory management can help eliminate this issue by giving you more accurate inventory counts – so when a customer wants to purchase an item, you can be sure you actually have it in stock.
Beyond that, if you’re shipping items to customers as part of your ecommerce system, inventory management software can help you immensely.
For starters, it can eliminate missed orders. As each order comes in, the automated software can assign it for fulfillment guaranteeing it’s not lost in the shuffle.
Beyond that, if you have multiple warehouse locations, the software can choose the best one for order fulfillment based on stock levels and proximity to the customer to reduce shipping times.
All in all, inventory management software can help you better connect with your customers – keeping them happy and shopping with your business.
How to choose the right apparel inventory management software for your business
By now, we hope you’re realizing that wardrobe inventory software solutions for wholesale apparel retailers can have an instant and dramatic impact on your business. It really is a game-changer.
However, at this stage, a lot of business owners get ready to take the next step, and then never do.
Why is this?
The main reason most businesses drop out of the process here is that they get overwhelmed. When it comes to inventory management solutions, there is no shortage of options on the market.
No matter how big your company or how small your budget (even if your budget is zero dollars…), there are options for you. But where do you even begin? We’re glad you asked.
Here are some tips for choosing the right wholesale apparel inventory app or software. Following these guidelines will give you a good foundation to start your search – and from there, it’s as simple as trying out solutions, scheduling demos, talking with service providers, and finding the option that does exactly what you need. Don’t fret – the perfect software is out there.
1. Determine what’s right for your business
The first step is arguably the easiest – it’s simply figuring out where your business fits into the fashion industry. Depending on where your niche is, you will require different tools.
Understanding your business and the tools you specifically need means you can focus on only options that tick all of the boxes you need – and eliminate a huge chunk of other services.
So, let’s break down a few categories:
If you’re a wholesale apparel manufacturer, you’ll probably need a software solution with not only inventory management tools (to track your materials and the finished product), but also forecasting tools (so you can stay on course), and planning and workflow management (as items move through the manufacturing process, you want to know where they are at each step of the way).
Reseller or buying house
If you’re in the business of being an intermediary between manufacturers and retailers, you’ll likely want inventory management tools, but you’ll also benefit from having an inventory management system with a robust CRM to help coordinate all of your efforts to get your inventory to retailers.
If you’re in the retail fashion business, then you’ll need all the standard inventory management bells and whistles, but you’ll also want a solution that integrates with your POS system, can be customized for all of your different product needs (styles, colors, etc.), has multichannel support, and features order tracking.
Beyond that, you’ll want to consider your company size. Some tech solutions charge a monthly fee based on the number of people accessing the inventory management software. So, that option with the super low price might not really be so great if it’s only that price for two user and you need access for 20.
Beyond that, smaller companies often require fewer bells and whistles. While it can be tempting to get every option available, you pay for those features in the end – so it’s smart to get the software tools you’ll use and maybe a few you’ll grow into in the not too distant future. Save all the fancier high-end stuff for a time when you actually need it.
2. Weigh your options and start trying software
With that out of the way, you now have a detailed idea of what kind of software you’ll actually need. This is where the fun starts. At this point, everything is really as simple as sitting down and looking to Software as a Service (SaaS) provider like Linnworks and choosing ones that have features in line with your needs.
Linnworks stands out as a comprehensive solution tailored to meet the dynamic needs of businesses today. Here are some compelling reasons to consider Linnworks for your inventory management:
- Automation: Linnworks brings the power of automation to your fingertips. From updating stock levels to order processing, automation ensures that repetitive tasks are handled efficiently, reducing manual errors and saving valuable time.
- Connectivity with Multiple Marketplaces: One of Linnworks’ standout features is its ability to seamlessly connect with hundreds of marketplaces. This ensures that your products have a broad reach, and inventory levels are synchronized across all platforms, preventing overselling and stockouts.
- Single Source of Truth: With Linnworks, you have a centralized system that provides a single source of truth for your inventory, warehouse, shipping, and order requirements. This means no more juggling between different systems or spreadsheets. Everything you need is in one place, ensuring consistency and accuracy.
3. Selecting the right software solution
At this point, you’re ready to make the commitment and select your software. Here are several things we suggest looking for in the company you’re about to enter a contract with:
Do they offer customized solutions?
With so many options out there, there’s no need to go with a cookie-cutter software solution that mostly fits your needs. Your company should offer customized solutions that help you get a perfect inventory management system for your needs.
Training and Support
A good software provider will offer training for your staff on how to best use the software – because what good are inventory management tools if no one knows how to use them? Beyond that, what kind of support do they offer? Ideally, you want live 24/7 support.
And really, that’s it – at this point, you’re ready to make your purchase and start managing your apparel inventory.
Top Apparel Inventory Management Software
To help you get started in your inventory management software journey, here are some of our favorite ERP solutions for the apparel industry.
1. SkuVault Core
SkuVault Core by Linnworks is an inventory management software for wholesale apparel companies looking to take control of their inventory and maximize profit and customer satisfaction.
With robust quality control tools, you’ll never ship your customers a wrong order again.
Beyond that, the software will also help you drive purchases and maximize sales potential by allowing you to combine products through the kitting and assembled products feature.
Finally, SkuVault Core will allow your apparel business to design custom templates for things like packing slips and invoices — which will help take your branding to the next level.
Linnworks Advanced is a market-leading commerce operations platform that brings three core attributes to the retailer: connectivity to a diverse number of marketplaces, automation to traditionally time-consuming ecommerce processes and a centralized repository for listings, inventory, orders and shipments into one single source of truth.
Central to Linnworks’ proposition is its connected ecosystem giving retailers access to a wide variety of marketplaces to market and sell their goods as well as a plethora of shipping partners to ensure products get to the end consumer on time and with minimal outlay.
2. Paragon ERP
Paragon ERP brags that it’s software designed for people, not users – and we’re inclined to agree.
This software solution offers up customizable workflows, SKU-based tracking, unlimited fields of data and full visibility over your inventory to help you never miss a beat.
It also aids with your multichannel needs, connecting seamlessly with Amazon and Shopify marketplaces.
NetSuite isn’t aimed directly at the wholesale apparel market, but is instead a fully customizable inventory management system with a modular approach that guarantees you can configure it specifically to fit your needs.
NetSuite’s downside is that it’s not cheap – this is an enterprise solution aimed more at giant companies than smaller retailers. That being said, if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution with every conceivable bell and whistle imaginable, NetSuite is worth checking out.
Prodsmart helps apparel manufacturers and retailers manage their entire production process, from getting raw materials through to the finished product.
This software will automate reporting, standardize quality and safety, create serialized labels, streamline shipping, and a host of other things that will take your business to the next level.
5. Aims360 Fashion ERP
Aims360 Fashion ERP offers up a single solution for all your fashion business needs.
It offers the following tools:
- Complete apparel inventory management
- Style management
- Customer and order management
- High-level dashboards
- Multiple windows
- Enterprise-class business intelligence
On top of that, it’s a cloud-based solution, meaning your team can access the software anywhere, anytime.
6. Apparel Magic
As the name suggests, Apparel Magic is built for the apparel industry
This product will help you manage styles, sales, customers, accounting, inventory, and purchases in one place. Style management enables you to keep a detailed library of your products’ colors and sizes with precise tracking of costs.
It’s cloud-based and can be used entirely through the web – meaning you and your team can access it and work from anywhere. It also comes with full support.
7. ShareCloth Editor
This software solution is aimed primarily at apparel manufacturers and offers up tools to help you develop new products more quickly.
This tool will help you build a sample garment from a digitized pattern file, then share it with clients with a click of a button.
The best part? ShareCloth is freeware.
This one is definitely more of a niche product, but if you’re consistently making products for clients and want to show them what you’re working on early in the process, this tool might be for you.
A2000 software is an Oracle-based ERP system oriented to serve the needs of the sewn-goods industry.
It offers up a multitude of features, including the following:
- Portals for vendors
- PLM processing
- Advanced warehouse management capabilities
- Order processing
- Financial reporting
- Inventory management
- Modules for catalogs
- Supply chain management
- Task calendars
- Material requirements management
As you can see, this is a full-featured product that can fit almost any company working in the apparel and fashion industry.
9. Fast React
Fast React provides three different solutions for businesses in the fashion industry: Vision, a product lifecycle management solution, Evolve, a tool for planogramming with visual capacity management, and Align, a tool designed to help manage inventory levels and orders.
The three can be used from a single dashboard, which will give you complete control over your entire business. And even better? You can add additional modules to Fast React to customize it even further to suit your needs.
10. Blue Cherry
Blue Cherry provides “the built-in capacity to address fashion, apparel, and footwear companies’ fundamental needs in core management, planning, design and product development, sourcing, manufacturing, logistics and sales functions. These end-to-end capabilities enable brands to efficiently manage the entire concept-to-consumer process for improved speed to market and enhanced competitiveness.”
It achieves these objectives with a modular approach, allowing your business to acquire tools it needs without spending on things it will never use.
This planning optimization tool is aimed primarily at manufacturers looking to control their fabric inventory. And while this specialized software isn’t for everyone, if you’re an apparel producer with fabric inventory management needs, this product could be the perfect fit for you.
Beyond that, IntelloCut helps companies save money by eliminating materials waste. Once a pattern is put into the system, it determines where to cut so that a minimal amount of fabric is wasted. That’s good news for your bottom line.
Sync’s big selling point is that it’s a cloud-based solution aimed at the fashion and apparel industry that offers 22 different modules that allow you to customize the software to fit your needs.
From PLM tools to ERP, from inventory management to order tracking, there’s a module for almost everything an apparel business could ever need in this package.
The best part is that if you only need one or two specific modules, Sync could be a very powerful and affordable option for your business.
All industries can benefit from inventory management software – but this is particularly true for the apparel industry, where rapid, constant changes in inventory mean the continuous introduction of new products and removal of old ones.
The good news is there is a wide range of software solutions available that can help you get a handle on your inventory issues. No matter how big or small your business (or your budget) is, there’s a tool that can help you save money, streamline your inventory management process, and help you keep your customers happy.
Inventory management in the apparel industry doesn’t have to be a challenge. The tips and tools in this article will help you find the perfect solution in no time!
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