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Old 20th July 2005, 09:29 AM   #2

Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2
Default Stock Control Software is a Saturated Market

Inventory Management Systems and Stock Control software in general is a very highly saturated market, with hundreds of software houses producing sophisticated systems for all types of industry.

This is how the small software house can be a key niche player in the market, by specialising and targeting certain industries, rather than try to be a swiss army knife program.

A solid functional system is the basis of good stock control, with a simply laid out, well designed interface, which eases the learning curve for new users. Then one must look at the target user, to add further precision in the marketplace.

Split the target end user into groups of user level and computer competence, and design for that level of computer literacy. It is reasonable to assume that most people working in the stock warehouse or sales office of a retail or wholesale distribution business are fairly IT literate, and know their way around a keyboard and mouse, but even then, one should design and cater for the lowest level of competency.

Information Technology should be ubiquitous, much as the mobile cellphone is becoming, and so this simple phrase should be the motto running in the heads of all software engineers. Make it easy to use, so that every one can use it.

So the HighControl Stock Control Business Management software was designed with low IT literacy in mind, although many functions are for the more experienced computer user, the daily tasks of stock purchase, entry, sales, despatching and invoicing are made to be simple to use, and with lowered times of competency by design.

Reason? We saw that many office users, salespeople, warehouse staff and other operational job roles, did not require or have to use IT equipment, any more than a cursory check of email and the web. So their user experience was limited to email programs, browsers and, usually, games. So when introducing a new Stock Control system, it had to be logical and easy to learn & use.

Also, by targeting a specific industry niche, the IT wholesale distributor, it benefitted our target customer by recognising and meeting those needs of that particular industry, so new customers could find all they need straight out of the box, and take control of their inventory problems.

Although we have changed our off-the-shelf package, it is still aimed at the retail or wholsale distributor, taking sales over the phone, email or web, with the occasional walk in customer. The system is set up in such a way that the goods out/despatch is central to operation, so, unlike an EPOS system, it is based on the gereration of a Sales Order, or a Pro-Forma invoice, rather than scan out operation at a till like a supermarket, though we also have scan out capability for faster sales order generation.

When you look for Software to help you run your business, the most essential point to remember is How it will help you run your business, not the cost or the salesman's patter, but work out first how any tool can improve your bottom line, which requires understanding your problem in the first place.

Inventory Control Software does not solve all your problems, but they are made for a specific reason, to manage and control your stock, and ergo, your sales.

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