Many product companies have logged impressive success with bare-bones inventory management, at least at first. Just like any other entry-level business system, a medley of tools works well — until it doesn’t. Basic inventory applications that bolt onto your accounting, e-commerce, or point-of-sale software get the job done when you’re getting off the ground. They require manual effort and perhaps creative workarounds, but they let you keep track of what items are in stock and in what quantities. That brings some degree of order, prevents products from piling up in the warehouse, and minimizes fire drills caused by running out of bestsellers without warning. While entry-level inventory software is certainly an improvement over spreadsheets, limitations become apparent as the business grows. Expanding to multiple channels or locations? Traceability for regulated products? Cycle counting? All get very complicated and time intensive without a capable system. Eventually, these inventory management-related tasks become too burdensome, and companies realize they need to automate processes, track additional information, and find a system that can grow with them. Inventory management is an area worthy of investment because, without it, businesses often waste a lot of money — sometimes without realizing it. Having too much or too little stock can lead to higher carrying costs and more obsolete inventory as well as missed sales. The bottom-line impact is real, and the right inventory management strategy can make a big difference. In this guide, we’ll explain what most “starter” inventory systems offer, where they may come up short, and what to look for as your strategy matures.