Technology

Best Inventory Software for Small Businesses

Paul Sharpe, CPA, CA
/
August 29, 2022

Affiliate disclosure

We review the best inventory management software for small businesses and give you our recommendations. We'll look at the industry standards as well as more user-friendly, but still powerful solutions.

Best Inventory Software for Small Businesses

This article will outline the best inventory management software for small businesses.  

We review the industry standards in Dear, Unleashed and Cin7 while also checking out a growing favorite in Inflow Inventory software.

We'll also look at more basic options from Shopify, Square, Xero and QuickBooks Online.

Check out our recommendations here at the top or dive into the details down below.

Best Inventory Software Overall - DEAR 

DEAR Inventory Systems is our top overall choice for inventory software. It is a robust yet easy-to-use platform that will cover all but the most complex small business inventory needs.

DEAR is the industry standard for small business inventory management and is worth checking out for your business.

Jump to the DEAR Inventory Review 👈

Honorable Mention - InFlow

InFlow’s inventory management system is our honorable mention because it manages to be extremely user-friendly while still offering a large array of features. We recommend taking a look at InFlow as well as DEAR.  

Inflow offers a free trial so you’re only paying with your own time when checking it out.

Jump to the InFlow Inventory Review 👈

Best for Simple Inventory Needs - Shopify

Shopify is well known for its best-in-class ecommerce platform. However, the platform also includes some basic inventory management capabilities.

If you’re starting a retail or ecommerce business but don’t have complex inventory management needs, absolutely look at Shopify first.

Jump to the Shopify Inventory Review 👈

What is Inventory Software?

Inventory software is a tool that tracks, manages, and reports the movement of your inventory. It replaces the pen-and-paper process of tracking stock and shows real-time visibility of inventory.

In practice, this capability can result in better decision-making, lower operating costs, and an increase in profit.

Great inventory software will not only track inventory but will also integrate with many of the useful tools you may be using. With seamless integrations to your finance and CRM platforms, you can have a clear picture of your business and make well-informed decisions.

Why You Need Inventory Software

Traditional recordkeeping is clunky and prone to errors. In contrast, inventory software can provide efficient solutions and give you a clearer picture of your inventory situation. Here are some of the reasons why you may need inventory software in your business:

Efficient Operation

Sharing of inventory data is streamlined because most inventory software applications are cloud-based. What this means is that all relevant departments or staff members can communicate better about inventory stock levels, purchases and condition. All information can be stored in one application and can be accessed from anywhere there is an internet connection.

In larger businesses, integrations with your other tools will keep the finance team, purchasing department, and sales team updated. Using inventory software can significantly help suppliers, bookkeepers, production managers, and sales teams to achieve their goals.

With inventory software, you can see if there’s a need for restocking or if production is delayed. You can see which products are selling fast and which aren’t performing well. You can calculate inventory costs and overall profitability for each item. You can access all of this info from anywhere that you have an internet connection.

Minimize Errors

Some businesses still use spreadsheets to record and track their data. This may work well for very small operations, but it can slow things down and result in inaccurate recordkeeping. Inventory software eliminates most of the manual processes to prevent these issues.

Easy Expense Tracking

If you can’t track your expenses accurately, you have no way of knowing whether you’re selling inventory at a reasonable profit. Fortunately, inventory software can also generate financial reports to help with this. 

Automatically calculate the total cost of inventory, sales volume, sales taxes owing, and other important information.  This information can also be imported seamlessly into accounting software such as Xero or QuickBooks Online.

Happier Customers

Inventory software also directly affects customer satisfaction. For example, having complete inventory visibility helps you decide when to run discount campaigns. This can also help prevent expired goods from being sold and make sure that you sell them at the right time. 

Inventory software can also help you avoid running out of items. This will ensure that customers can get what they want when they want it. It also makes sure you don’t miss any potential sales.

Real-time inventory management can help you give your customers what they ask for and offer discount campaigns to attract new customers.

DEAR Inventory Software

DEAR Systems is a complete enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. It is used by businesses in retail, wholesale, manufacturing, and ecommerce industries. DEAR was founded in 2012 and was acquired by Cin7, an inventory and order management software company, in 2021

Dear Inventory Systems Logo

DEAR Systems offers a comprehensive inventory management solution. It lets you access multi-channel orders and inventory, purchasing, shipping, and reporting.

The DEAR Inventory Management module covers all processes that streamline stock management. You can get access to real-time stock levels and order statuses using the intuitive interface. You can also monitor incoming, on-hand, and outgoing stock.

Integrations with POS systems helps you to sync your inventory when sales or returns are made. You can integrate popular accounting tools, ecommerce marketplaces, CRMs, and B2B platforms.

DEAR also helps to prevent products from expiring and losing their value by automating expiry date tracking. It also allows for manual adjustments like the correction of quantity or price of your products.

DEAR Inventory Systems User Interface

Dear Inventory Software Pricing

DEAR System has three plans that can be customized to suit different business sizes and needs.

  • Standard - $325 USD per Month
  • Manufacturing - $525 USD per Month
  • Retailing - $445 USD per Month

Standard Plan - $325 USD per Month

This plan has everything that most small businesses could need for inventory management and then some. 

With this plan, you have access to the following:

  • Includes 5 users with user-level role permissions and manager approval
  • Multi-channel order management
  • Multi-channel inventory management
  • Warehouse management
  • Includes 2 Integrations - integrate apps for ecommerce, marketplaces, payment processing, shipping, fulfillment, CRMs, and many other apps
  • Accounting Integrations - QuickBooks Online, Xero, and DEAR General Ledger Functionality
  • Reporting on inventory, operations, and business financials 
  • Sales features include advance pricing tiers and customization, discounts, deals, and warranties
  • A warehouse mobile app for wireless barcode scanning
  • A sales mobile app to help your sales team keep track of available stock

Manufacturing Plan - $525 USD per Month

The Manufacturing plan includes everything in the Standard plan plus features designed to automate several processes in manufacturing.

  • Includes 8 users with user-level role permissions and manager approval
  • Includes 2 Integrations - integrate apps for ecommerce,  marketplaces, payment processing, shipping, fulfillment, CRMs, and many other apps
  • 1 API integration - integrate directly with other cloud-based tools to automate your processes
  • Advanced manufacturing module - create and configure bill of materials for your products, manage all production processes, and trace all materials from basic parts to finished products.
  • Includes a ”shop floor” mobile app - for manufacturing teams to manage production and update reports.

Retailing Plan - $445 USD per Month

The Retailing plan is best for businesses involved in warehousing, purchasing, and selling of goods. This option is helpful for both ecommerce and bricks and mortar retail operations.

This plan includes unlimited POS users and registers, plus the following features:

  • Includes 8 users with user-level role permissions and manager approval
  • Includes 2 Integrations - integrate apps for ecommerce marketplaces, payment processing, shipping, fulfillment, CRMs, and many others
  • Unlimited store locations and registers
  • Unlimited POS users
  • Includes a customer management module

Benefits of DEAR Inventory Software

DEAR inventory software is one of the industry leaders. Their dedication to continuous improvement means you’ll see some significant benefits to using their software platform.

Comprehensive ERP System

DEAR Systems is made to provide a comprehensive solution to warehousing, inventory, and sales. On top of the features included in each plan, you can customize it to your needs by adding other modules to your existing plan. 

Easy to Use and Full of Features

DEAR manages to pack a lot of useful features into a relatively easy to use interface. Those who already have some experience using inventory management software will especially feel at home with DEAR.

Dropshipping Option

DEAR’s dropshipping feature allows you to sell products that you don’t stock yourself. You can manage your own warehouse and sell your own products while also fulfilling orders from an external supplier's stock.

Disadvantages of Dear Inventory Software

DEAR offers a comprehensive inventory management solution but it is not without flaws.

May Be Too Complicated for Smaller Businesses

The features of DEAR Systems are excellent and can be worth the price. However, even if you have a small business with moderately complex inventory management needs, DEAR might be slightly overkill.

The many features are great, but if you’re just looking for a basic inventory management system, you may want to look at some of the other options listed here.

Challenges with Integrations

Some integrations can be frustrating to set up properly or can malfunction and create a mess.  It’s important to fully understand what an integration will do before turning it on.

We’ve seen DEAR push thousands of transactions to the accounting software when we didn’t intend it to. This was very likely caused by user error, but it was still a frustrating experience and could easily happen to others. 

Third Party Reviews of Dear Inventory

GetApp Rating: 4.3/5

Capterra Rating: 4.3/5

G2: 3.1/5

Dear Inventory Summary

DEAR’s inventory module is a powerful and comprehensive tool that will provide enough features for businesses of all sizes. Small businesses that have more complex or growing inventory needs could find DEAR to be  an excellent solution.

On the other side, the extensive feature set can also mean that DEAR is a more complicated solution than your business needs. It also costs more compared to alternative options for small businesses. 

DEAR Systems is best suited for small to medium-sized businesses that have more complex or growing inventory management needs.

Unleashed

Unleashed Software is a cloud-based inventory management software founded in 2009. The company is based in New Zealand with offices in Australia, the UK, and the USA. In 2020 Unleashed Software was acquired by The Access Group, a UK-based business software vendor.

Unleashed Inventory Software Logo

Unleashed aims to help businesses of different sizes across different industries. The software allows you to have a clear overview of your business operations through an intuitive dashboard. Unleashed also offers real insight into business performance with its Business Intelligence dashboard. From inventory production through to shipment, the software offers real-time tracking of your goods.

It integrates with many other applications that you may be using. Sync your preferred accounting, ecommerce, POS, and analytics tools to streamline your processes.

Create and manage unlimited warehouses, suppliers, products, customers, and transactions. Unleashed features a sandbox environment as well where you can trial and implement new features and workflows. 

You can also perform a test run using a mirrored account without risking your data. This feature makes me so happy to see. Testing workflows on live data can be a scary experience.

Unleashed Inventory User Interface

Unleashed Inventory Software Pricing

Unleashed Software offers three plans for mid-sized, scaling, and enterprise-level businesses. The plans have similar features with differences mainly in the number of users and API calls available.

An API call is a specific request or response from one app to another. An example of an API call is when your ecommerce software sends a new customer purchase to your Unleashed account.

  • Medium - $349 USD per Month
  • Large - $649 USD per Month
  • Large Plus - $999 USD per Month

Medium Plan - $349 USD per Month

This plan includes the basic features you need in an inventory management tool plus a lot more.

With this plan, you have access to the following:

  • Includes 3 users with different permission levels
  • A purchase management module for purchasing and tracking materials and stock
  • An inventory management module to manage stock using serial numbers and barcode scanning. It also allows you to track returns and warranties
  • A production module to manage your manufacturing process
  • A file library where you can store files up to 10GB of files
  • Up to 125,000 API calls to and from your preferred integrations. Unlimited API calls for selected apps including: Xero, Quickbooks Online, Vend, Amazon, Magneto, Shopify, and Salesforce
  • Sales features that allow you to manage customers, price tiers, discounts, orders, shipping and more
  • A sales management mobile app to help your sales team keep on top of what inventory is available to sell
  • A production module where you can manage bills of materials, product assemblies, product kits and your production gameplan.

Large Plan - $649 USD per Month

The Large plan includes everything in the Medium Plan and unlocks more users and a larger number of API calls.

  • Includes up to 8 users with customizable user-level role permissions and manager approval
  • Up to 250,000 API calls from your preferred integrations

Large Plus Plan - $999 USD per Month

Large Plus has more users and API calls designed for emerging enterprise businesses:

  • Includes up to 20 users with customizable user-level role permissions and manager approval
  • Up to 500,000 API calls from your preferred integrations

Onboarding Programs (Required)

For new users, there is a required onboarding program for all plans. New users can choose between FlightPath A (designed for those who already have experience with inventory management software) or Flight Path B (designed for those who need more guided support):

  • FlightPath A - $449 one time cost
  • FlightPath B - $789 one time cost

Benefits of Unleashed Inventory Software

Unleashed is an experienced player in the inventory management software industry. Their software is well designed and well tested.

Excellent Choice for Manufacturers

Unleashed provides an excellent solution for businesses that both manufacture and sell products. All Unleashed plans include the manufacturing module which may not be the case for other inventory management systems.

Unlimited Number of Warehouses

All Unleashed plans include an unlimited number of warehouses. This lets you track and manage stock across all your warehouses.

Disadvantages of Unleashed Inventory Software

As with each of the systems on this list, Unleashed has some drawbacks as well.

More Expensive Pricing

The lowest pricing tier is $349 USD per month and Unleashed requires you to pay a one time onboarding fee of $449 or $789 USD depending on which option you choose.

These costs may turn away smaller businesses that could potentially benefit from Unleashed’s inventory system.

Potentially Too Complex for Smaller Businesses

Unleashed is a powerful solution that can handle even the complex needs of larger businesses. This means that if you run a small business, Unleashed might be potentially too complex for your needs.

Features such as the manufacturing module and multiple warehouse management are excellent tools but might not be what smaller businesses need. There are other options listed here that provide less complex solutions at a lower cost.

Limited Flexibility by Design

The reporting capability is minimal and can’t be customized. There’s also no option for manual editing of product count. These limitations are built-in to keep users from breaking things, but it also means that you may not be able to build the custom reports that you want.

Third Party Reviews of Unleashed Inventory

GetApp Rating: 4.5/5

Capterra Rating: 4.5/5

G2: 3.9/5

Unleashed Inventory Summary

Unleashed is a well-built  inventory management platform that offers an expansive solution for complex inventory needs. It is suitable for retailers and manufacturers looking for a complete, all-in-one platform.  It’s especially great for businesses that have multiple warehouses that need to be tracked.

However, this all-in-one platform means that Unleashed may not be a great choice for smaller businesses. Unleashed's extensive solutions are not for businesses that are just starting out or only have basic inventory management needs. 

Unleashed is a great choice for manufacturing or retail businesses with more complex needs or that have stable growth and plan to scale up.

inFlow

inFlow Inventory Software is built by Archon Systems Inc., a Toronto-based company founded in 2007. The company offers an all-in-one inventory management solution at an affordable price. 

InFlow Inventory Logo

inFlow Inventory Management lets you track and organize your inventory. You can manage product pricing, make one-click purchase orders, and organize the manufacturing process.

You can choose when, where, and how to restock your inventory. You can set an approval workflow before proceeding with the purchase orders. Purchase costs are automatically recorded and can be synced to Xero or QuickBooks Online.

inFlow has numerous integrations to streamline your inventory management. Connect your preferred tools like ecommerce platforms, shipping systems, or accounting applications.

InFlow Inventory User Interface

Inflow Inventory Software Pricing

The pricing of inFlow is mainly based on business size and order volume. The three plans are.

  • Entrepreneur - $99 USD per Month
  • Small Business - $279 USD per Month
  • Mid Size - $549 USD per Month
  • Enterprise - $1,649 USD per Month

Entrepreneur Plan - $99 USD per Month

This plan is best for businesses that are just starting out. It includes the following features:

  • Up to 2 team members
  • Includes 1 store location
  • Up to 100 sales orders per month. Once you exceed this limit, you can get an additional 50 sales orders for $29 USD
  • Up to 2 integrations
  • Includes up to 2 hours of setup assistance
  • Add $29 per month to access serial number tracking

Small Business Plan - $279 USD per Month

The Small Business plan offers everything in the Entrepreneur plan and unlocks a few other features:

  • Includes up to 5 team members plus you can add extra members for $49 each
  • Includes unlimited inventory locations
  • Up to 2,000 sales orders per month. Once you exceed this limit, you can get an additional 50 sales orders for $21 USD.
  • Up to 3 integrations - connect platforms for accounting, ecommerce, shipping, and other apps
  • User access rights - configure the scope of what your team can do in inFlow Cloud
  • B2B portal showroom - dedicated online store for your business clients
  • Add $49 per month to access serial number tracking.

Mid Size Plan - $549 USD per Month

Unlock most of inFlow’s features with the Mid Size Plan. This plan is designed for businesses with growing inventory and sales. This plan includes everything in the small business plan plus:

  • Includes up to 10 team members plus you can add extra team members for $39 each
  • Includes up to 10,000 sales orders per month. Once you exceed this limit, you can get an additional 50 sales orders for $19 USD
  • Includes unlimited integrations with other software platforms
  • User access rights and restrict access by location
  • Includes the ability to set up purchase order approval workflows
  • Allows you to remove inFlow branding from customer-facing systems
  • Add $69 per month to access serial number tracking

Enterprise Plan - $1,649 USD per Month

Tailored for enterprise-level businesses with larger teams and a large number of products:

  • Includes up to 25 team members plus you can add extra members for $29 each
  • Unlimited inventory locations
  • Includes up to 30,000 sales orders per month. Once you exceed this limit, you can get an additional 50 sales orders for $19 USD
  • Includes up to 10 hours of setup assistance
  • Generate and track serial numbers for each product
  • This tier provides you with a dedicated account manager
  • Access to the inFlow API. This allows you to create custom integrations so you can be sure that inFlow will work with your current system.

You can also add the bill of materials and work orders module as an add-on which costs from $39 to $249, depending on your plan.

Benefits of Inflow Inventory Software

InFlow is a highly rated inventory management software that includes a number of benefits for small businesses.

User-Friendly Interface

InFlow’s user interface is easy to use even for those who are not familiar with inventory management software.

It keeps things simple and avoids the often bloated-feeling interface that you can get from other inventory management applications.

Showroom for B2B Sales

The Showroom portal of inFlow lets you create an online store to showcase your products. Your customers can conveniently browse through your online catalogue and place orders directly.

Here’s a sample of an inFlow Showroom for Bill’s Bedding:

InFlow B2B Platform

Excellent Customer Support

inFlow has an excellent customer support system. You can reach out to inFlow support via email, chat, and phone call and receive prompt and friendly service

Disadvantages of Inflow Inventory Software

While there are many good features to be found, inFlow is not an ideal solution for every business.

Fees Can Easily Pile Up

The pricing model of inFlow starts at $99 USD but this tier has tight limitations. As your business increases its sales volume, you will need to pay for the additional sales or spring for one of the higher tiers. 

Integrations Can be Limiting

While inFlow does integrate with numerous apps and platforms, you would need to choose the “Mid Size” plan at a cost of $549 USD to get access to unlimited integrations.

This can inflate the cost pretty quickly if you need to integrate inFlow with a number of other systems.

Third Party Reviews of Inflow Inventory

GetApp Rating: 4.6/5

Capterra Rating: 4.6/5

G2: 4.1/5

Inflow Inventory Summary

inFLow starts as an affordable option that provides helpful features fit for smaller businesses or those with only moderately complex inventory needs. 

It has an excellent user interface that is much simpler to use than the larger inventory software platforms. The Showroom feature allows businesses to quickly set up a functional online store without the need for a separate website.

One downside of inFlow is that the fees can easily pile up if your business starts to increase sales volume and requires many software integrations. However, we still recommend inFlow as a great choice for small to medium sized businesses because of its ease of use and reasonable pricing.

Cin7

Cin7 is an inventory management software provider headquartered in Denver, Colorado. The company was founded in 2012 and has been serving customers in more than 75 countries. 

Cin7 acquired Dear Systems and Orderhive in 2021, building an extensive solution for businesses needing to track the production of goods, inventory management, and sales processes.

Although Cin7 and DEAR are operated under one company, the systems are still separate and offer different solutions for your inventory management needs.

Cin7 Inventory Logo

Cin7 is a full-service enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. One of its solutions is inventory management. All Cin7 plans include core inventory management modules that manage products, purchases, and stock. They also provide inventory insights, perform accounting functions, handle production, and include a  CRM module.

Even though Cin7 also serves small businesses, the platform is best suited for larger stores with complex needs and solutions. It has over 700 available integrations that aim to streamline everything in your business.

Cin7 has solutions for businesses selling online as well as bricks and mortar operations. Restock your inventory and manage your warehouses in different locations to fulfill your customers’ orders.

The user interface gives you a complete picture of what’s going on in your business while maintaining ease of use once you have a feel for the system.

Cin Inventory User Interface

Cin7 Inventory Software Pricing

Cin7 has built 4 plans to meet different business needs.

  • Small Business - $299 USD per Month
  • Business - $539 USD per Month
  • Advanced - $999 USD per Month
  • Enterprise - Available upon Request

Small Business - $299 USD per Month

The Small Business plan is for businesses that are focused on selling online.

  • Includes 2 users
  • Up to 3 standard integrations
  • Includes native Cin7 point of sale or integrations with other POS systems
  • Allows for automation of workflows
  • Provides access to Cin7 Academy, an online self-guided learning platform to help you master Cin7

Business - $539 USD per Month

The Business plan is mainly for those focused on growing their B2B and wholesale business. It includes everything in the Small Business plan plus the following:

  • Includes up to 5 users
  • Up to 4 standard integrations with other platforms
  • Includes 1 EDI/3PL connection - this feature lets you perform automated communication with your retailers for more efficient restocking control
  • Includes 1 B2B Online store to showcase your products in a dedicated B2B online marketplace
  • Includes Cin7’s integrated warehouse management solution

Advanced - $999 USD per Month

The Advanced plan is for sellers with advanced needs, serving both retail and wholesale customers. It upgrades some of the features in the Business plan and unlocks several more:

  • Includes up to 8 users
  • Up to 5 standard integrations with other platforms
  • Allows for up to 2 Developer API connections
  • Includes 1 EDI/3PL connection - this feature lets you perform automated communication with your retailers for more efficient restocking control
  • Allows for multiple EDI/3PL connections if needed
  • Provides multiple B2B Online stores to showcase your products in dedicated B2B marketplaces
  • Includes a dedicated Customer Success Manager

Enterprise - Available upon Request

Built for more complex and larger businesses that have very specific needs. It has several customizations and also some unique features:

  • Customizable number of users
  • Customizable number of connections or integrations
  • Includes a dedicated Customer Success Manager
  • Also includes dedicated support and help with implementation

Benefits of Cin7 Inventory Software

Cin7 is one of the most feature-rich inventory management platforms out there. Here are some of the benefits of using Cin7 in your business.

Comprehensive Inventory Software

Cin7 offers everything that a small to medium sized business may need to manage its inventory. The lowest pricing tier provides a great solution for online retailers and second pricing provides a comprehensive solution for B2B or wholesale businesses. 

Starting with Cin7 will mean that your business is ready to scale up and you won’t need to try and implement a new inventory management system down the road when your business grows.

B2B Ecommerce Platform

Cin7 also offers a dedicated B2B ecommerce platform in the Business plan and higher. It integrates with your inventory and shows accurate stock availability. 

It’s a good solution for businesses that want their ecommerce and inventory platforms directly linked without need for third party integrations.

Native POS Software

Another benefit of using Cin7 is its built-in POS to keep sales and inventory synced directly under one software platform.

Disadvantages of Cin7 Inventory Software

Cin7 provides extensive inventory management features but like some of the other applications mentioned in this article, this can mean it’s not right for all businesses.

Less Intuitive Interface

The Cin7 interface can be complicated and confusing for some users. This is in part due to its long list of features. However, it does feel less intuitive to use when compared to other feature-rich applications.

Potentially Too Complex for Smaller Businesses

Cin7 is a powerful solution that can handle even the complex needs of larger businesses. This also means that if you run a smaller business, Cin7 may be too complex for your needs.

Can Be Costly for Smaller Entrepreneurs

The starting plan that costs $299 USD per month could be a competitive option but the best features of Cin7 start with the higher tiers.

Third Party Reviews of Cin7 Inventory

GetApp Rating: 4.3/5

Capterra Rating: 4.3/5

G2: 3.6/5

Cin7 Inventory Summary

Cin7 lets businesses access many inventory management features that were formerly only accessible to larger enterprises. 

The native POS system is cost-effective for businesses engaged in both online and physical stores, and you can also easily set up your own B2B ecommerce platform using Cin7’s built-in solution.

The biggest disadvantages of Cin7 are its sometimes clunky user interface and the fact that this comprehensive solution might not be the best fit for smaller businesses with basic needs. 

Shopify Inventory Management

Shopify is one of the more popular ecommerce platforms out there. If you want to sell products online with basic inventory management needs, you will want to consider Shopify and its integrated inventory management tool.

Shopify Logo

Shopify is foremost an all-in-one ecommerce platform for selling goods online.  However it also  provides basic inventory tracking, updates, and history. 

The entire system is very accessible and easy to use. It allows you to add and edit products and manually configure stock levels. The stock levels are automatically updated when customers place an order.

You can also integrate third-party inventory management apps to unlock a wider range of features. However, the built-in inventory management tool in Shopify provides reasonable core functions needed to run an online retail store.

Shopify Inventory Software Pricing

The inventory tool is accessible in all Shopify plans. The differences between tiers are mainly related to online selling features:

  • Basic - $29 USD per month
  • Shopify - $79 USD per month
  • Advanced - $299 USD per month

Basic Plan - $29 USD per month

The Basic plan includes a handful of features that can help businesses that are just starting out. Most of these features are available in all plans:

  • Shopify online store
  • Includes up to 2 staff accounts
  • Includes up to 4 inventory locations
  • Add and sell unlimited products
  • Online credit card rate per transaction: 2.9% + 30¢ USD
  • In-person credit card rate per transaction: 2.7% + 0¢ USD
  • Basic reports to show your store’s performance
  • Includes Shopify POS for bricks and mortar retail stores
  • Sell internationally

Shopify Plan - $79 USD per month

The Shopify plan unlocks more features for a growing store. The reduced credit card fees at this tier mean it can save you money compared to the basic plan at higher sales volumes.

  • Includes up to 5 staff accounts
  • Includes up to 5 inventory locations
  • Online credit card per transaction: 2.6% + 30¢ USD
  • In-person credit card per transaction: 2.5% + 0¢ USD
  • Standard reports for better tracking of your store’s performance

Advanced Plan - $299 USD per month

This plan is built for businesses with larger teams, multiple locations and higher sales volumes.

  • Includes up to 15 staff accounts
  • Includes up to 8 inventory locations
  • Online credit card per transaction: 2.4% + 30¢ USD
  • In-person credit card per transaction: 2.4% + 0¢ USD
  • Advanced reports of your store’s performance
  • Sell internationally with custom pricing for each market

Benefits of Shopify Inventory Software

The built-in inventory management tool is beneficial for Shopify users without complex inventory management needs.

Lightweight and Easy to Use

What makes Shopify popular is that it’s accessible to almost any device and extremely easy to use. 

This also applies to its inventory management tool. Pretty much anyone with experience using online platforms will be able to navigate Shopify easily.

Continue to Sell Out-of-Stock Products

If your inventory is on the way to you or if you are taking backorders, Shopify’s inventory system has a good solution. Shopify allows you to continue taking orders of products even if they’re not currently in stock. 

Shopify’s Ecommerce Platform is Excellent

Shopify is one of the best ecommerce platforms out there for small businesses. We are always happy when we see our clients using it.

Managing inventory directly within Shopify is a benefit in itself.  It may not be the most powerful inventory management system, but it can get the job done for many small ecommerce businesses.

Disadvantages of Shopify Inventory Software

If you’re looking for more complex features, Shopify’s inventory management system probably isn’t going to cut it..

Basic Functionality

Larger sellers or businesses that manufacture their goods to sell will likely require more complex inventory features than Shopify includes.

Shopify’s built-in system is mainly used to track the quantity of stock and not much else.

Import and Export are Manual

Shopify allows you to import and export data if you want to update or download product quantities. However, there is no advanced integration from the inventory management tool. You’ll need to download and upload a CSV file manually.

Cumbersome to Set Up

While it’s easy to import a long list of products if you have many SKUs, you will still need to manually toggle “track inventory” on for each product.

Third Party Reviews of Shopify Inventory

Business.org Review: 2.2

Shopify Inventory Summary

Shopify's built-in inventory software is a good option for Shopify users with basic needs. It delivers the core functions you need to track the products that you sell online. 

However, it’s not for all businesses and not even for all Shopify sellers. 

There are many other options on the Shopify App Store with more robust capabilities at a reasonable price. Its inclusion in all Shopify plans makes the built-in solution at least worth a look before paying for a third party app.

Square Inventory Management

Square is best known for its point of sale hardware and software. Since its founding in 2009, it has developed several other solutions for businesses of all sizes. One of the modules included with the Square POS platform is Square Inventory Management.

Square Logo

The Inventory Management module accessible in the free version of Square for Retail. It offers basic features that can help small businesses achieve efficient inventory control. 

It integrates well with the whole Square POS system, making it more convenient for those who are already in Square. You can also access advanced features in Square paid plans.

With Square, you have a free online store and retail POS app to manage your sales. The inventory software lets you access basic inventory tools for free, including:

  • Unlimited number of products 
  • Use GTIN and/or SKU codes
  • Build your own online store from available templates
  • Integrate with Instagram, TikTok, and Google Product Listings
  • Automatically syncs all your online and in-store orders for up-to-minute inventory levels
  • Basic sales reports

Square offers advanced retail reports and integrations within the higher pricing tiers.

Square Inventory Management has a few unique features. One of which is its social media integrations with Google Product Listings, TikTok, and Instagram:

  • Google Product Listing - allows online sellers to post products that automatically appear on Google Shopping when searched. 
  • TikTok videos - have a native shopping button. You can create videos that link directly to your Square Online site.
  • Instagram integration - allows you to sell your products and accept purchases right from your Instagram page.

It also has built-in team management functions such as a passcode login for your team, staff clock-in and clock-out functionality and various role and permission levels.

Square Inventory Pricing

Square’s inventory module comes built-in with the Square point of sale system. There are three plans to choose from for Square POS:

  • Free Plan - $0 per Month
  • Plus Plan - $79 CAD per location per Month
  • Premium Plan - Custom Pricing

Square for Retail Free Plan - $0 per month

The free plan is tailored for small businesses that want to sell online, in-store, or both. It offers a basic inventory management tool and some features that are available in all plans:

  • Add staff/employees (same role/permission)
  • staff/employee time tracking
  • Online store with a website builder
  • Add and sell unlimited products
  • Stock counts across all locations
  • Low stock alerts
  • Automatic inventory sync
  • In-store pickup or delivery
  • Online payments rate per transaction: 2.9% + 30¢ 
  • In-store payments rate per transaction: 2.6% + 10¢ 
  • Basic sales reports

Square for Retail Plus Plan - $79 CAD per month

The Plus plan includes everything in the Free plan plus some advanced inventory and team management features:

  • Add staff/employees with custom roles and permissions
  • Set up different wage rates for staff
  • Cross-location bulk transfers
  • Barcode printing
  • Automatic purchase orders to replenish stock
  • Inventory history
  • Track and manage stock levels on your iPhone or iPad
  • Online purchase credit card fees: 2.9% + 30¢ 
  • In-store payments rate per transaction: 2.5% + 10¢ 
  • Advanced reports: sales reports, profit margin reports, cost of goods sold, and vendor sales

Premium Plan - Custom Pricing

There are custom plans available if your business processes $250K or more in credit card sales each year.  

The main difference is a lower rate on transaction processing costs. Businesses with higher sales volumes may be able to save overall by paying a higher monthly fee and reducing per-transaction costs.

Benefits of Square Inventory

Square is an excellent option for small businesses that are already using the Square POS system.

Free Version

If you just need basic inventory management and you’re already in Square’s ecosystem, this can be a good option for you. You can add unlimited products and sell as much as you like without worrying about additional costs apart from the standard Square POS transaction fees.

The free version can be limiting for some businesses, but will always be free. It’s a decent option for start-ups, selling goods at markets, or smaller retail businesses.

Seamless Integration with Square Products

Besides the Square for Retail platform, Square also offers marketing tools, a loyalty program for your customers, and even an appointment scheduling module. Using Square’s built-in inventory management keeps things simple while still integrating with other Square products.

Disadvantages of Square Inventory

Square’s basic inventory management system comes with some drawbacks as well.

Not Made for Complex Needs

You'll find that Square lacks the complex capabilities that are usually included in other inventory software.

Square is really not an inventory management system, but instead provides some inventory management within the Square retail platform. 

You won’t find anything like integrations with other marketplace platforms, shipment tracking, or manufacturing management.

Third Party Reviews of Square Inventory

Business.org Review: 3.0

Square Inventory Summary

Square Inventory Management is a good choice if you’re looking for basic inventory management software. It has seamless integration with the entire Square POS system family and includes capabilities suited for many small businesses.

The drawback here is when your business starts to grow. You might need a more flexible platform with additional features that Square can’t provide.  

The social media integrations are a bonus for those engaged in online selling and the free version makes it a decent choice for businesses that are starting out.

Really, if you’re already selling products using Square POS or Square’s ecommerce platform, then definitely check out the built-in inventory management capabilities. You may find they’re enough for your needs and you won’t need to add another SAAS cost to your budget!

Xero Inventory

Xero is one of the leading (and our favourite) accounting software systems for small businesses. 

The platform also has a built-in inventory management tool to help you track your stock and make invoicing quicker. These basic capabilities could be useful to smaller businesses selling goods online or in-store.

Xero Logo

Xero Inventory allows you to sell up to 4,000 different products, track stock levels, include costs and pricing, and generate invoices and reports. 

With Xero Inventory, your inventory cost and sales can be automatically tracked in your accounting system when you make a sale.

Xero Inventory Pricing

The Inventory Management feature is included in all Xero plans:

  • Starter Plan - $17 CAD per Month
  • Standard Plan - $42 CAD per Month
  • Premium Plan - $54 CAD per Month

Xero is predominantly accounting software, so the pricing plan differences relate more to the accounting features than anything specifically inventory related.  For most small businesses, we recommend the Premium plan anyway as it unlocks necessary features like multi-currency accounting.

Xero Pricing

Benefits of Xero Inventory

If you’re a Xero user and you have basic inventory needs, then you may find this to be a viable solution.

Convenient and Easy to Use

The user interface is uncomplicated which makes it easy to use. This is useful if you’re selling products with few variations. You don’t need to switch back and forth between applications or add any cumbersome software integrations - it’s all built into Xero.

Included with Xero

All Xero accounts can access this feature. Some inventory management platforms cost up to $250 USD per month for their basic tier. If you’re just starting out with your business and already a Xero user, then this could be  a decent option to get going.

Improvements Coming

Some of our Avalon team just got back from XeroCon 2022 and they noted that Xero will be upgrading their built-in inventory management system in the near future.

Disadvantages of Xero Inventory

The disadvantages are fairly obvious here in that Xero’s inventory module is only made for basic inventory needs.

Limited Automation

The capabilities are quite simple and much of the setup and inventory tracking is manual in nature. There are no options to add product variations, configure custom discounts and deals, or generate graphical reports or insights.

Not for Manufacturing Businesses

Xero Inventory Management is not suitable for small businesses that need to track all components that make up their finished products. If you’re manufacturing or assembling goods, you will likely need to look at other options.

No Negative Stock Function

Xero does not allow for negative stock quantities. This can be an issue if you allow customers to pre-order new goods or backorder items that are currently out of stock.

Xero Inventory Summary

Xero is a decent option for businesses already using Xero and that only have a few products to sell. The system is useful for streamlining invoice creation and tracking a small catalogue of products.

However, if you’re selling many unique products and expecting high sales volume each month, Xero Inventory is not going to be a good option for you. It doesn’t provide much automation to streamline even moderately complex inventory and sales processes.

Overall, Xero Inventory is still a good tool. It is included in all Xero plans so Xero users can try it out and see if it covers their needs.

QuickBooks Online Inventory

QuickBooks Online is a popular accounting platform, especially for small business owners. What makes it a competitive platform is its wide range of solutions which includes the Inventory Management module. You can access this module if you’re paying for the QBO Plus Plan or higher.

Quickbooks Logo

QuickBooks Inventory Management module allows you to access basic inventory functions. You can track stock levels, generate reports, make purchase orders, integrate with a handful of platforms, and record details of your customers and vendors.

However, the inventory management capabilities are just add-ons to QBO’s existing accounting functionality. This means that QBO’s inventory module is not as powerful as other inventory management systems that also integrate with the QBO accounting platform. 

QuickBooks Online Inventory Pricing

The Inventory Management module is available in the Plus and Advanced plans (including the financial tracking and reporting features):

  • Plus Plan - $66 USD per Month
  • Advanced Plan - $140 USD per Month

The differences between these plans mainly relate to the accounting features included with QBO.

Quickbooks Pricing

Benefits of QuickBooks Online Inventory

QuickBooks’ inventory module is basic, but provides a bit more functionality than Xero’s similar offering.

Seamless Integration with QBO

You can access the Inventory Management module without downloading or accessing a separate application. Although other inventory platforms integrate with QBO, being able to track and access your inventory directly within the platform is still convenient.

Affordable Option

If you are already paying for your QuickBooks Online account, then having the inventory module included in the Plus Plan is quite affordable.

Disadvantages of QuickBooks Online Inventory

QBO’s inventory module is still a basic option that can be quickly outgrown.

Only for QBO Plus Plan and Up

The QBO inventory module is limited to Plus Plan users and higher unlike with Xero where inventory management is included in all plans. 

Basic Functionality

The inventory tracking and management functions are still basic compared to other dedicated inventory management software. 

Even if your small business does not have complex inventory needs, you may still find QBO lacking some important functions that are considered basic in other software.

Third Party Reviews of QuickBooks Online Inventory

Business.org Review: 4.4

QuickBooks Online Inventory Summary

QuickBooks Inventory Management module is a functional tool for small businesses that are already use QBO and especially those already purchasing the QBO Plus plan or higher. With QBO Inventory Management, you don’t need to access a different platform or pay for add-on software.

The main drawback of QBO’s inventory module is it lacks some important inventory management features such as multiple warehouse management. It also does not include a built-in BOM module that is considered basic in other inventory software. Another drawback is it's only accessible to Plus plan accounts and higher.

Overall, QBO Inventory Management delivers core functions to track your inventory with seamless integration with your QBO accounting tools. 

It’s definitely worth a look for existing QBO users that have basic inventory tracking needs. 

Software Setup and Training Services

At Avalon, we have years of accounting software experience. If you're looking for recommendations or help setting up your accounting or inventory software, give us a shout.

Article by
Paul Sharpe, CPA, CA
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Originally published
August 29, 2022
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