If you’re a warehouse or operations manager, you must realize how difficult managing inventory is. While you need to record the units, item number, and location of each inventory item, you also need to ensure that there is enough stock to fulfill customer orders.
Managing all of this manually isn’t easy and is prone to errors. For instance, if your inventory records don’t reflect accurate stock volumes, you risk stock outages. And during audits, inaccurate inventory records can lead to fines and penalties.
An inventory management solution simplifies the inventory tracking process and eliminates human errors in recording inventory data. Moreover, the inventory reports that the system generates also save the effort in manual counting during audits.
However, if you are still concerned whether investing in an inventory management solution is right for you, you could start by using a free inventory management system first. This will allow you to assess the usefulness of the software before you purchase a full-fledged product.
To help you get started, we’ve identified the three best free inventory management software solutions (listed alphabetically). Each of these systems appears on the Capterra Shortlist that ranks software solutions based on ratings, popularity, and functionality, among others. (See full selection methodology here).
- Pricing: Of the several modules the vendor offers, the first two are available free of cost. You’ll need to pay for any additional module beyond that.
Odoo is an open source ERP solution that offers modules for managing various business functions, including CRM, eCommerce management, point of sale (POS), expense management, supply chain, and inventory management.
Odoo’s inventory management module allows users to track delivery orders, dropshipping requests, backorders, receptions, and transfer requests for inventory items. This module supports different shipping providers, including FedEx, UPS, DHL, and local post offices, which makes managing shipping operations easy.
It also supports barcode scanner technology via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or USB connections. There is seamless integration with the other modules in the ERP ecosystem, so you don’t need to manually update inventory and accounting reports whenever a product is sold.
Odoo offers customer support via portal requests and phone.
- Free plan: Includes payment management, cart management, barcode scanning, customer management, etc.
- Paid plans: Start at $60 per location per month and include advanced features such as inventory transfers, purchase management, and vendor management.
Square for Retail is a cloud-based retail management and POS system that helps businesses manage online and offline retail operations. Key features include website builder, inventory management, order management, checkout and payment management, and reporting.
The inventory management features available with Square’s free plan include stock tracking and counting. The free version also includes low stock alerts that notify users when the inventory levels drop below the critical order volume. This helps you initiate inventory replenishment before stock outages impact normal operations.
Square’s customer support options include phone, email, live chat, social media, and a self-service knowledge base.
- Free plan: Supports 25 orders each for online and offline purchases.
- Paid plans: Start at $49 per organization per month and support 1,500+ online and offline orders per month.
Zoho Inventory is a cloud-based inventory management solution that features inventory control, warehouse management, multichannel selling, and order management.
Zoho Inventory’s free plan supports up to two users and allows you to manage online and offline inventory orders, and track shipments and warehouse activity. The free plan also supports integration with eCommerce platforms, allowing you to manage purchases made via eCommerce platforms.
Zoho offers different options for customer support, including a self-service knowledge base, FAQs, forums, email, and phone support.
The following approach can help you identify the right free inventory management tool for your business:
- Shortlist solutions based on the number of monthly orders allowed in the free plan.
- Review the features listed in Capterra’s inventory management software buyers guide and select the features you’ll need in your business. Shortlist those products that offer all the essential features you need.
- Decide an annual budget for inventory management software. Select products that fit within your budget, so that you can afford all the upgrades.
If you want to evaluate more products, check out Capterra’s inventory management software catalog. On this page, you’ll be able to shortlist inventory management solutions based on features, pricing options, deployment, and the number of users.
Selecting free inventory management software is not a straightforward decision. You’ll be faced with a lot of doubts when finalizing the right software to invest in.
We’ve summed up key questions that you should ask the software vendor before implementing free inventory software.
- Do upgrade plans include phone and email support? Not all technical queries can be addressed through self-help support materials. To address these queries, you’ll need to interact with the technical support staff directly, and phone and email support make this possible.
- Does the software integrate with the software solution I have in my business? Without integration, you’ll need to export data from your inventory software and upload it to another. This is not only tedious but also limits your ability to keep all systems up-to-date in real time.
- How frequently do you release software updates? If the software provider releases feature updates frequently, it indicates that the software provider is focused on adding new features and fixing issues in the existing ones.
- Can you share testimonials from a current customer from my industry? The testimonials from your industry peers will help you assess the utility of the software in your line of business.
How we rate
This article was updated on Mar. 18, 2021. Products considered for this article had to:
- Offer a free, stand-alone version of the software (not a trial version of the software where you must purchase a product after a limited amount of time).
- Be listed on Capterra’s Shortlist report for inventory software as available on 18th March 2021.
You can read about the methodology for the Shortlist report here.
Note: The content in this piece that provides opinions and points of view expressed by users does not represent the views of Capterra.