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Inventory control and inventory management fulfill similar functions and work together, yet they’re still two distinct inventory processing solutions. If you’re trying to decide between these two inventory systems now, we’ve put together this brief guide to help you understand the differences between inventory management and inventory control.

When warehouse operations managers find themselves unclear on whether or not they need inventory management or inventory control software, it’s usually the case that they need both. The two are as similar as they are interrelated. However, they both fulfill their own unique business objectives. So, what is inventory management, what is stock or information management, and how do the two differ? Let’s take a closer look below.

What is inventory management software?

Inventory management software solutions give businesses more precise and efficient control over warehouse tasks like purchase order creation, space optimization, and stock-keeping. Also known as stock management software, inventory management software helps companies track their raw and finished goods through their entire supply chain distribution cycle.

Inventory management solutions give you access to accurate, real-time information so you never run critically low on your most important stock or order more items than your warehouse can support. An effective inventory management WMS platform helps companies struggling with accurate fulfillment and increasing costs gain more control over their inventory and better optimize their warehouse space.

Stock management software streamlines forecasting and decision-making because it gives an accurate picture of future demand. The software provides more insight into market potential, so you can start making the necessary process and inventory adjustments in advance. The program simplifies stock replenishment while making it easier to track inventory returns and how much volume of a given item you’re selling.

Inventory management solutions enhance cycle counting and other routine inventory checks through automation, relieving several common headaches associated with manually verifying your stock levels. Along those same lines, access to live-time inventory data expedites your cycle count auditing processes and helps eliminate the human errors that result in unnecessary stockouts of critical warehouse items.

What is inventory control software?

Inventory control software is related to but distinct from inventory management in that it’s more preoccupied with the day-to-day handling of your stock. Examples of inventory control include shipping and receiving, putaways, product returns, and the general movement of stock throughout your facility from place to place.

Understanding your warehouse stock rotation plays a significant role in inventory control and the software solutions that let you implement your stock management processes. You need to know how much stock is coming in and out of your warehouse to avoid missed sales and customer backorders.

Warehouse space optimization is another vital component of inventory control. At your facility, goods and materials are constantly coming and going, and when a new item arrives you need a concise method of accounting for it. Inventory control software works with RFID tags and mobile scanners to give your goods an original code and track them at every stage of distribution.

These unique product identifiers help protect against warehouse theft and give you an efficient means of securing and tracking high-value products throughout your supply chain. Inventory management solutions speed up and remove complexity in your fulfillment processes by updating your sales records in real-time, tracing the item from the moment it ships to its final destination. The warehouse management software gives you access to end-to-end, real-time tracking while increasing visibility and transparency across your entire supply chain.

Inventory control software helps distributors monitor the condition of their stock and prevent spoiled goods or recalls from finding retailer shelves. When your operators put materials away, barcode scanners and RFID tracking allow you to identify their exact warehouse location. You can leverage inventory control software to identify which items should be stored closest to your packing areas to expedite the shipping of your more popular selling goods.

The main differences between inventory management and inventory control

Inventory control is primarily concerned with moving items within your warehouse environment while keeping tabs on how much inventory you have. Stock control software allows you to track the condition of materials and verify critical information like expiration dates to prevent spoilages from circulating further through your supply chain.

Inventory management, in comparison, refers to the wider process of predicting future revenue, creating purchase orders for new stock, and documenting the inventory you currently have on hand. The inventory management process relies on valuable historical data to forecast future consumer buying behaviors. Businesses, in turn, will analyze this information and adjust their own warehouse purchasing strategies accordingly.

In what ways are inventory control and inventory management software similar?

Both software solutions can track and trace your stock throughout the supply chain. Inventory control is one aspect of the inventory management process, as the two are exclusively related. Inventory management technologies look at some of the same trends and patterns as inventory control software programs do, only from a much broader perspective and over a longer time. Each solution depends on mobile devices for tasks like barcode and RFID scanning that provide warehouse managers and their operators with real-time status updates.

Choosing the right inventory management software for your business

Every warehouse has unique inventory management requirements, and any software solution you choose must be adaptable enough to accommodate them. Start by evaluating your current inventory management situation and identify the areas where you can improve along with any desired efficiency-enhancing features.

It’s also a good idea to have conversations with your warehouse managers and staff to determine if you can benefit from systems integration. As a solution to your manual cycle counting procedures, WiSys offers Agility Essentials, a scalable, customizable inventory system that allows you to start automating your facility in stages. Our warehouse management software helps you complete time-consuming manual tasks like warehouse replenishment, cycle counting, and inventory tracking automatically.

For answers to your additional questions about inventory management systems and more on how Agility Essentials from WiSys can boost your warehouse productivity, contact one of our expert product managers now at (770) 955-3550.