Operations

What's the Difference Between Inventory Management vs. Inventory Control?

Apr 13, 2022

Confused about inventory management and inventory control software? We’ll help you make the right choice by defining and comparing these two software categories.

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Barkha BaliWriter
What's the Difference Between Inventory Management vs. Inventory Control?

What we'll cover

As a warehouse or an operations manager, do you wonder whether you need an inventory management solution or an inventory control system? The reality is, you might need both. While the two may seem similar, inventory management and inventory control serve distinct business objectives. 

Both inventory management software and inventory control software focus on improving internal operations related to inventory monitoring, product categorization, purchase order management, goods tracking, and labeling, but in different capacities. Inventory management software focuses on refining your ordering and forecasting processes, while an inventory control solution manages your existing stock.

Below, we'll talk about the similarities and differences between the two software categories to help you understand which one is better suited for your needs. 

What is inventory management software?

Inventory management software helps businesses optimize inventory and manage demand through forecasting. The software aims to maintain supply chain management efficiency by ensuring that warehouses are never over- or under-stocked. 

Inventory management systems streamline inventory creation and order fulfillment operations. The tool analyzes past trends in inventory, records seasonal demand, identifies risk in the supply chain, and supports data-driven changes. Many inventory management tools also offer barcoding/labeling to monitor inventory movement. 

Inventory management software features

The key features of inventory management system include:

  • Inventory control: Optimize stock quantities and track the process for ordering, receiving, storing, and transferring inventory to reduce overstocking and understocking. 

  • Inventory auditing: Run periodic inventory counts or stock-takes, both physical and cycle counts, and send alerts in case of any discrepancies or process lapses.

  • Product categorization: Categorize products based on size, colors, weight, height, batch, date, and serial number, to support inventory evaluation and reporting.

  • Barcoding: Facilitate inventory tracking using barcodes or RFID (radio frequency identification) functionality to scan items that are received, sold, or transferred.

  • Order management: Manage order capturing, processing, and fulfillment from the point of purchase through payment and delivery.

  • Inventory traceability: Perform end-to-end tracking of lots—from ingredients and raw materials through the manufacturing process to distribution of finished goods.

  • Demand forecasting: Use historical sales data to estimate future customer demand. Forecasting helps businesses make data-driven decisions about inventory stocking. Inventory managers can use this information to evaluate markets, modify pricing, and make necessary changes in the operations.

Examples of inventory management software

These five products, listed in alphabetical order, are taken from GetApp’s Category Leaders report 2022 for inventory management software. (See the end of this piece for the full methodology for how these products were chosen.)

Asset Panda

Booqable

Katana

Limble CMMS

Prodsmart

What is inventory control software?

Inventory control software automates inventory management and tracking. It focuses on maximizing and controlling what your stock does once it reaches your warehouse. Inventory control management software aims to help retailers and warehouses prevent inventory losses/damage, optimize inventory spaces, and reduce understocking and excess inventory.

Inventory control tools also help order management teams identify slow moving products and ones that are high in demand. 

Inventory control software features

The key features of inventory control software include:

  • Inventory tracking: Track all products in inventory by site, location, serial number, lot, date, and/or pallet.

  • Warehouse management: Control movement and storage of goods within the warehouse. It also helps with warehouse design, picking and packaging goods, shipping and receiving, managing yards and docks, and staffing.

  • Barcoding: Record inventory using barcodes or RFID functionality to scan received, sold, or transferred items.

  • Audits and reports: Run periodic audits of inventory and generate reports for inventory management teams to track stock and resolve any issues before they multiply.

  • Check-in/check-out: Monitor items as they move through the warehouse to employees, vendors, or customers, preventing them from getting lost along the way.

  • Automated alerts: Send instant alerts about low inventory level, obsolete inventory, overstocked items, and reorder point.

  • Safety stock calculation: Optimize the amount of backup stock.

Examples of inventory control software

These five products, listed in alphabetical order, are taken from the GetApp’s Category Leaders report 2022 for inventory control software. (See the end of this piece for the full methodology for how these products were chosen.)

ERPAG

Megaventory

Shopventory

SkuVault

Square for Retail

Differences between inventory management and inventory control software

Inventory control and inventory management have distinct functionalities, even though they both deal with inventory:

Inventory management vs inventory control

Which inventory tool is right for your business?

  • If your business needs an inventory tool to make smart decisions regarding ordering and purchasing inventory, inventory management is the right choice for you. 

  • If your business needs an inventory tool to optimize, regulate, and organize your inventory already  in the warehouse, an inventory control system is a better option. 

For example, a food truck business can use an inventory management solution to identify what to order, when to order, and how much to order. It will also help them forecast future demands and plan re-ordering. 

Inventory control software is designed to deal with stock after it’s been ordered and sitting in your warehouse. For example, an eCommerce business needs an inventory control system to manage existing stock, receive new inventory, track sales invoices, and support periodic inventory audits. 

Once you’ve decided which software to use, head to our inventory management software and inventory control software category pages where you can find a sortable list of products and software reviews from verified users.

How to choose the right inventory system for your small business

The inventory system you choose has to align with your operations’ needs. Here are some considerations to keep in mind while evaluating potential solutions:

  • Business needs: Before shortlisting a tool, consider all the features it offers and compare them with your specific needs. Consider the challenges you are facing and how this solution would address those challenges.

  • Cost of ownership: Different tools have varied pricing models that make direct comparison a bit tough. Some vendors may apply extra charges for product support, data storage, training, and updates. Before you select a tool, calculate the total cost of ownership based on your business needs.

  • Scalability: Your inventory grows along with the growth in your business. Therefore, consider a tool that can scale up with your company. 

If you want to narrow down your search to only the most popular and highest-rated solutions, visit GetApp’s Category Leaders reports for the top inventory management software and inventory control software tools—our reports are based on an analysis of thousands of user reviews.

Methodology

At GetApp, we consider and verify all our user reviews to recommend the most efficient tools for your business.

Our software recommendations reflect the views and experiences given by your peers. These recommendations are never bought or sold, nor based on the opinion of a single individual.

For this article, we’ve taken examples of five products from each category with the highest score based on functionality, ease of use, value for money, likelihood to recommend, and customer support from GetApp’s Category Leaders report for inventory management and inventory control software. Learn more about GetApp Category Leader’s methodology here.

To be considered for this list, products had to:

1. Have at least 20 unique product reviews published on GetApp within the past two years, with an average rating of 3.0 or higher as of April 5, 2022. 

2. Meet our software market definition for inventory management and inventory control software:

  • Inventory management: “Inventory management software monitors inventory, helping organizations streamline inventory creation and organize order fulfillment operations. These systems help businesses optimize their inventories and improve supply chain efficiency. Advanced inventory management systems provide real-time inventory control and auditing functionalities.”

  • Inventory control: “Inventory Control software automates the management and tracking of goods and often includes tools such as barcode software.”

Note: Reviews and ratings data in the product cards is as of April 5, 2022. New reviews may have been added since the publication of this article, so the reviews data in this piece may not reflect current conditions.

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About the author

Barkha Bali

Writer
Hey there, I’m Barkha. I’m a writer at GetApp. I recommend businesses software they require through thoughtful and compelling content. I studied English Literature at Delhi University and Jamia Milia Islamia. I have been working in the Digital Marketing domain since 2017. Home base: New Delhi. (1-2) things about me: avid reader and enjoys listening to podcasts. The [1-2] tech trend[s]/innovation[s] I think you should keep an eye on 👀: How to stay ahead of industry change and tech diplomacy.
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