In the history of humankind, when calamity strikes, our environments change. Sometimes, this happens by a little, sometimes by a lot. We have no choice but to adapt or die.
When it comes to commerce, the parallels are all too similar. Recent world events have sent the way we work and conduct business into a tailspin. Many businesses didn’t make it out of the global pandemic in one piece.
The harsh reality is that most of us just weren’t prepared. McKinsey found that 85% of supply chain leaders stated that their digital technologies weren’t sufficient to handle disruption.
It’s no wonder that a recent report predicts that the demand planning solutions market will expand by a CAGR of 16% up until 2030. At that point, it’s expected to surpass US$ 14.5 Bn in revenue.
Being prepared for emergencies is only one side of the story. It doesn’t matter if you’re a large or small business. Don’t you want to have the seamless ability to accurately predict sales trends and maximize your profits? If so, you’ve come to the right place.
What is an inventory forecasting software solution?
Inventory forecasting software is a type of solution that helps businesses with sales, customer demand forecasting, and purchasing decisions. These solutions streamline the process of inventory planning and purchasing from the supplier to the warehouse and the customer.
Inventory forecasting solutions take the guesswork out of demand forecasting, eliminate the manual and repetitive processes tied to spreadsheets, refine forecasting methods, and optimize inventory purchasing.
They use different algorithms and AI to streamline every aspect of inventory forecasting and demand planning. The tools can also help in other areas of the business too, such as supply chain, purchasing, and reporting.
8 Best inventory forecasting software tools for your business
If you’re constantly experiencing out-of-stock issues or wondering where your cash has gone, it may be the right moment for you to consider inventory forecasting software. That’s a great first step to better cash flow as it gets your inventory level right. Now, it’s time to be overwhelmed by the many options available to businesses today.
Have no fear. We’ve done the heavy lifting for you and scoured the market for the best inventory forecasting solutions available today.
1. Inventory Planner
Launched in 2012, Inventory Planner was built with e-commerce and multichannel businesses in mind. The platform is designed to save merchants time and money when purchasing inventory to ensure customer demand is met.
The software has been helping businesses of all sizes handle inventory planning, demand forecasting, inventory reporting, and purchase order creation; the platform boasts over 2.3k+ paying customers and has saved these customers millions of dollars in forecasted lost revenue.
Why Inventory Planner is the top pick for you
Inventory Planner is the top pick for e-commerce businesses of any size. Businesses can benefit from the software’s customizable forecasting settings and data-driven replenishment recommendations to ensure the right inventory levels even when the supply chain throws you curveballs.
The platform oozes useful features that are designed to be easy to use so that even the most tech-ignorant can understand them.
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Optimized forecasting accuracy – historical sales, seasonality, and market fluctuations data are compiled simultaneously into forecasting. The result of this is that you can expect higher accuracy in demand forecasting, resulting in better replenishment recommendations.
Flexible configurations and actionable replenishment recommendations – forecasting methods can be configured at various levels that meet your business needs. These forecasting methods can be configured by variant, bundle, supplier, assembly, or warehouse.
This means you can forecast demand for products that trend differently and have actionable replenishment recommendations for each component you need to reorder, as well as the reorder points for all components.
Quick purchase orders – the Replenishment report streamlines purchasing. Only a few clicks are required to select products and generate bulk purchase orders.
Native integrations – Inventory Planner integrates with more than 30 platforms, including major e-commerce platforms, marketplaces, accounting tools, as well as inventory and order management tools. So you can centralize all your historical sales data in one place for better sales forecasting.
Full reporting suite – you can run detailed reports by brand, supplier, and warehouse. This gives managers a complete 360-degree view of business performance at any time. You’ll also have more than 200 metrics to choose from, so you can report on the metrics that matter the most to your business.
Trend monitoring – track business performance for red flags, and identify issues before they become big problems.
Overstock management – this makes it easy to locate overstocks and address them on the fly. You can quickly liquidate or discount excess inventory to increase business cash flow for a better investment.
Although Inventory Planner handles sales forecasting and inventory planning for assemblies. Companies with heavy manufacturing that need advanced BOM or full production planning may find some forecasting features to be lacking when it comes to the needs of their supply chain.
Pricing starts from $199.99 per month. You can sign up for a 14-day free trial now.
SaaS provider Logility offers a wide-encompassing platform for businesses with their Logility Digital Supply Chain Platform. Their solution uses a blend of AI and advanced analytics to sense and respond to highly dynamic market conditions. The aim of this complex software is to give businesses the opportunity to strike first while the iron is hot.
High forecast accuracy – using AI technology and built-in analytics, the platform has tools to carry out involved demand planning.
Channel optimization – businesses can decrease inventory costs by optimizing stock levels for each individual product and channel.
Planning automation – includes automated demand planning that reduces errors and increases forecasting accuracy.
Decision-making – you can leverage machine learning and other platform tools to make business decisions in less time.
Risk and opportunity tracking – the platform gives organizations a high level of visibility of business performance. The team can get a quick heads-up on any issues to address or opportunities to seize upon.
Optimize products across life cycles – granular monitoring helps teams identify demand patterns for even new and short-cycle products. These insights can inform and guide promotional campaigns for sales and marketing departments.
Leverage POS data – point-of-sale data is collected to help provide better-informed demand planning. This helps retailers avoid deadstock and stockouts.
A lack of focus – Logility is built with many industries in mind. The platform may require a great deal of customization and onboarding to work the way your business needs it to.
Surprisingly limited – despite being a full business intelligence (BI) solution, some users find it somewhat limited in its capabilities.
You need to get in touch with the team at Logility to find out more about pricing.
A global leader in cloud-based software for businesses, Infor supplies a wide range of ERP solutions for areas like supply chain and warehouse management. This includes building complete and customized solutions in the cloud to suit the needs of large businesses and global enterprises.
The main demand planning services offered by this SaaS provider are Infor® Planning & Forecasting solutions. These fall under the Cloudsuite Supply Chain Planning module.
Demand planning – Infor uses probabilistic forecasting methods for increased accuracy. The cloud-based systems can process huge volumes of big data and signals from a variety of sources.
Dynamic forecasting – you can optimize consistent and seasonal demand patterns to handle changing trends and peaks. Forecasts adjust in real-time with these changes.
Social collaboration – data and information is shared across various systems and portals. Departmental silos are broken down for collaboration and decision-making.
Supply planning – balance and synchronize production with demand. The platform lets you monitor all processes across the entire supply chain and avoid or eliminate any bottlenecks. Built-in scenario modeling lets you test how robust your operations are and address any potential risks.
Integrated business planning – you can synchronize your supply chain and demand planning with other areas of the business. This lets you do things like create growth initiatives for new products or generate financial analysis.
Production and scheduling – manage supply chain transportation and factory scheduling all from one space. Infor lets your managers make on-the-fly adjustments to keep up with demand forecasts.
Wide scope of supply chain management as Infor is an ERP – demand planning is one of only many purposes of the platform, which means you’ll pay for what you may not need. And implementation can be challenging and lengthy.
Too complex for smaller to medium businesses – for example, e-commerce merchants would find it difficult to dig through things like factory scheduling and growth initiatives when all they want is a seasonal inventory forecast.
Get in touch with the team at Infor to find out more about pricing.
Oracle is a long-standing global leader in business intelligence solutions. The company offers a full suite of software tools and ERP modules to complement businesses of all sizes from any industry. The provider’s family of solutions offers many options for businesses looking at anything from inventory control to supply chain management to accounting.
Most pertinent to this list is the Oracle Retail Demand Forecasting Cloud Service. This service provides a platform for retailers to better understand their customers across all of their channels.
Good for brick-and-mortar stores – easy to use for brick-and-mortar and some e-commerce stores. The cloud services feature an “experience-inspired” interface that makes sense to those working in retail.
Track across all retail processes – AI and machine learning streamline all parts of the forecasting process, including planning optimization, inventory productivity in supply chains, operational costs, and customer satisfaction. This allows retailers to pick the best strategies that bring value to each step in the process.
Demand planning – the software uses retail sciences: machine learning, artificial intelligence, and decision science to streamline the process of predicting customer demand.
Custom analysis – users can create their own science-based decision trees and compare them with supplier-provided data. This lets you analyze inventory at a transactional level for better costing optimization.
Performance analysis – you can monitor the impact of adding and removing items from your product line or track net category performance. This makes it easy for you to give your customers what they want, increasing overall customer satisfaction.
No third-party integrations – Oracle’s products are designed to work with their cloud-based platforms. This limits you on what other systems you can add to your tech stack. And adding integrations with your current tech stack can mean costly and lengthy customizations that are prone to errors.
Complex implementation and configuration – the platform may require a long setup and onboarding process before you can get things started.
No free version or free trial – you won’t be trying before you buy with Oracle.
Get in touch with the team at Oracle for a demo and pricing information on all of their demand planning products.
#1 Inventory Forecasting and Planning Software For E-Commerce
End out-of-stock and overstock, boost sales.
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The founders of Netstock were part of the group that pioneered predictive and automated inventory management technologies in the late eighties. In 2009, they launched the company to provide a practical product for businesses in need of an inventory forecasting solution.
This web-based solution is built for ERP while keeping its uses as simple and easy to understand as possible. The platform handles a wide variety of enterprise functions, including demand planning.
Focused on ERPs – Netstock integrates seamlessly with ERPs for easy data connections and synchronization across your existing business tools.
Precision forecasting – the platform enables forecasting by product, channel, customer, and location. This increases the specificity of predictions and helps decision-makers glean more actionable information.
Intelligent modeling – automatically assigns the best forecasting models for each specific item customer, region, price, and more. These AI-powered models connect data sets from unique and dynamic sets of variables. As more data comes in, the models learn and adapt to improve accuracy.
Demand management – the platform makes it easy to adjust forecasting for individual SKUs or other product categories. This lets your team quickly correct for things like inventory shrinkage and supply chain disruptions.
Personalized dashboard – you can create custom and simple visualizations of data most important to you. For instance, you focus on things like potential stockouts/ overstocks or keep an eye on future inventory holding costs.
Customized recommendations – teams and managers can turn on personalized recommendations that can help guide them to better planning and improved forecasting.
Risk metrics and buffer stock – clear supplier risk metrics are available in real time and help with inventory optimization for stock held. They also help buffer stock levels.
Not for the little guy – focusing on ERPs means you need to run the rest of your business on an ERP first. And we all know ERPs are not the most affordable systems on the market, and maintaining an ERP usually requires extra costs and headcounts.
The process of replenishing items is facilitated by Netstock’s features and AI suite. E-commerce retailers like those in fashion or gaming may find that a solution like Inventory Planner is far better equipped for introducing new SKUs regularly.
Pricing depends on several factors, including inventory value and the number of warehouses you maintain. Get in touch with the team at Netstock to learn more about pricing.
6. Management One
Another provider that focuses on retail is Management One. The company’s Retail Orbit platform is designed to improve retail planning with more accurate and predictive forecasting of customer demand. The software has a heavy emphasis on its POS integration, which, in turn, drives its forecasting capabilities.
Another provider that focuses on retail is Management One. The company’s Retail Orbit platform is designed to improve retail planning with more accurate and predictive forecasting of customer demand. The software has a heavy emphasis on its POS integration, which, in turn, drives its forecasting capabilities.
Web-based – easy to use and understand for those working within the retail industry. Works on any device browser on the computer or mobile device of your choice.
Custom reporting – hundreds of standard and retail analytics to choose from when generating reports. You can also pick which KPIs to track and weigh against performance forecasts.
Seamless POS integration – easy onboarding for most major POS systems. Once connected, these information streams will begin to fuel a company’s demand planning. The software integrates with over 15 different POS solutions, including Shopify, Lightspeed, and Oracle NetSuite.
Trendspotting – automated scanning of an international database that highlights emerging opportunities for your business.
Lack of non-POS integrations – this lack of flexibility may not work for businesses wanting to connect data from existing business solutions. Tools like Inventory Planner provide POS connections as well as integrations with marketplaces, inventory management systems, and accounting platforms.
Less control – Management One provides you with a software platform and a consulting service. With cloud-based solutions like Inventory Planner, you, the merchant, are in charge.
Get in touch with Management One to schedule a demo or learn more about pricing.
7. Restock Pro
Software providers eComEngine have been developing tools for Amazon sellers since 2007. The solutions they offer support sellers in over 100 countries and have generated over 1.8 billion dollars in Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) revenue.
The company’s Restock Pro is its forecasting tool for Amazon FBA sellers.
Margin calculations – Restock Pro predicts margins for every product. This lets you know which of your items will be most profitable without having to put in any legwork.
Automatic tracking of FBA data – all of your kit’s sales history, profitability, FBA fees, and more are automatically tracked.
One-click restocking – you can create purchase orders, track shipments and manage your inventory with just a few clicks or less. The software also has priority flags that will notify you of any stock issues.
Shipment management – create shipments, review shipping plans, finalize and print customized stickers and labels all from one space.
Flexible pricing – packages scale with the volume of FBA orders you process each month. This makes the app affordable for even the smallest Amazon sellers.
Limited to FBA sellers – any businesses that sell on other channels or marketplaces should look elsewhere.
Marketplace issues – Amazon brings its own separate challenges with forecasting due to less reliable restocking.
Less flexible forecasting – with RestockPro, the forecasting is based on past sales data from a defined period. For merchants with seasonal products, a platform like Inventory Planner, with its multiple forecasting methods, including trendy and short-term, is a better option.
Plans start from $99.99 per month for up to 1,000 FBA orders per month.
Since its initial release in 1987, Microsoft Excel has driven forward the popularity of the ubiquitous office spreadsheets. Spreadsheets have never been about aesthetics but always about practicality. With applications like Excel, creating flexible and powerful spreadsheets for just about any business process is easier than ever.
Affordable – using spreadsheets doesn’t have to cost the business much of anything. Most times, you will already have a spreadsheet solution on-premise. You can also find free versions of Excel or tools like Google Docs that allow you to view and edit spreadsheets. There are also plenty of templates available for inventory forecasting (YMMV).
Easy visuals – with Excel, once a spreadsheet is functioning, users need only to enter the data. From there, the software makes it easy to create and build a plethora of graphs and charts. Things like pie charts and regression analysis plots help bring a better understanding of the data for everyone.
Free templates – free templates are available, which will be helpful for newbies with Excel.
Effective data analysis – while not as simple as other options, there are plenty of tools in Excel that aid with data analysis like Moving Average and Exponential Smoothing; combined with functions like Trend and Forecast, spreadsheets can generate very accurate predictions.
Slow and time-consuming – spreadsheets require a huge amount of time to build and implement when compared to software counterparts. For example, an inventory manager would need to take several steps to build a demand forecast that could take several months to complete. But a solution like Inventory Planner can start forecasting within weeks or less.
Very manual – every data point in a spreadsheet needs to be entered manually. This not only ties up your team with repetitive and monotonous tasks but also introduces a high opportunity for human error.
Steep learning curve – you can get started very quickly on Excel with the help of free, pre-built templates. But if you want to work out a demand forecasting model that works efficiently for your business or simply understand how to feed data into those free templates, it may take you a while to get there.
Pricing starts from $6.99 per month for Microsoft Excel. You can also find freemium spreadsheet software. \
Features to look for in inventory forecasting software
Every business wants to use the right products for the problems they are trying to solve. With so many options for inventory management and forecasting software, it’s important to know which features are must-haves.
Your chosen software needs to work seamlessly with the other tools and systems you use, such as online sales platforms, warehouse management systems, order management systems, accounting tools, shipping software, point of sale software, and CRM software. Plug-and-play integrations are best, but look for the ability to integrate with your other software via APIs.
Accurate demand planning is critical to the success of any company. The best inventory forecasting solutions connect to the rest of your business to boost the whole and not just a few parts. This means integrations.
And not just any kind; the best and most useful ones for a business like yours. This means integrations for e-commerce, inventory management systems, accounting, and others, to name a few.
A platform like Inventory Planner comes with 30+ integrations to connect seamlessly with your existing applications and platforms, including:
e-commerce – Shopify, BigCommerce, Lightspeed, Magento
Inventory Management – Cin7, Orderhive, Ordoro
Accounting – QuickBooks, ShipBob, Xero
Marketplace – Amazon, eBay, Etsy
Scalability is also an important factor in integrations as you don’t want your system to slow down or become buggy when order volumes spike. For example, Inventory Planner’s Shopify integration is pre-built and proven to be scalable by thousands of merchants.
The best inventory forecasting solutions run on a heart that beats from hard data. Some forecasting solutions may take shortcuts by plugging into more generic databases or adding “expert” opinions on market trends.
Look for platforms that are rooted first and foremost in the historical data of your business. And second, make sure you have multiple forecasting options so that you can pick the right model for each product type.
If you’re selling on both retail and wholesale channels, you’ll need to make sure you separate retail products from wholesale orders when forecasting demand and planning inventory purchasing.
This is because wholesale sales often have different patterns from retail sales. For instance, your wholesale order may be happening on a very regular cadence, and the order quantity is fixed every time.
A good inventory planning and forecasting software will allow you to forecast demand respectively for wholesale and retail channels, as well as give you tailored replenishment recommendations to ensure your products are reordered at the right time in the right quantity to meet demand.
Purchase order automation
The other major bonus of inventory planning software is that it enables you to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks and workflows. One of these is generating purchase orders—it’s a lot faster and a lot more accurate to have this done automatically rather than manually transferring inventory data and supplier details into your purchasing process.
Look for software that will generate and autofill purchase orders. For instance, Inventory Planner adjusts each purchasing recommendation to suit your business and allows you to create purchase orders directly from the replenishment report, including bulk orders.
Available inventory KPIs
Having a live view of your available inventory is essential, but you also need to know how the products are performing. Which items are selling well, and which could be ditched instead of taking up space on your shelves and becoming obsolete? It’s also important to know the value of current stock.
Your software solution should be able to show you KPIs such as the profit margin on your products by sales channel and location and accurately track variable inventory costs, like courier fees or production wastage. You can then analyze the information and make data-driven decisions.
Demand forecasting methods: seasonal or non-seasonal
To order the right amount of inventory at the right time, you need the ability to make accurate predictions. It’s especially important if you’re selling perishable inventory items—if you order too many, they’ll spoil and be wasted, while ordering too little puts you at risk of a stockout.
This is where demand forecasting comes in. It analyzes historical sales and customer data to identify trends or patterns that may be caused by seasonal factors or changing consumer tastes. It then predicts how much inventory you’ll need to cover demand, which makes things like holiday inventory planning a whole lot less stressful.
Forecasting methods should work for both seasonal and flat-trending products. So make sure the forecasting setting can be customized at the product level you want if you sell products that are trending differently.
Open-to-Buy (OTB) helps you calculate how much cash is needed to buy inventory so that you can meet customer demand and your revenue goals while maintaining a positive cash flow.
It’s all about understanding inventory needs from a financial perspective and aligning inventory optimization with revenue goals—and it’s definitely a feature you need in your inventory planning software!
Automation of inventory reports
Inventory reports are another thing that shouldn’t involve manual labor—and with the right software, they don’t have to. An advanced inventory planning system will collect all the relevant data and transform it into easily understandable reports, ready for you to analyze and share.
With any business tool, usability has become a somewhat relative term. Large businesses and enterprises will have the resources to make the most complex virtual machinery “usable”.
If you don’t fall under that umbrella, look for solutions with simple and intuitive interfaces. Unless your team is married to the spreadsheet look, go for something that is based on point and click for most functions. This will ensure every member of your team can get on board with your demand-planning solution.
It’s also a good idea to choose an inventory planning software with a mobile app for Android and iOS so that you and your staff can use it in the warehouse, the shop floor, or out on the road. Make sure the system is able to sync with mobile devices in real-time so that everyone is looking at the same information.
It should be easy to see what’s in stock and where without going back to a computer terminal. It should also be easy to gain full visibility of lead times for more efficient order fulfillment. Some mobile apps can even be used for barcode scanning.
Functional automatic alerts for stock and purchasing
Even if you carry out regular cycle counts, you might be too late to prevent a stockout of a certain product. It’s far better if your software alerts you to low stock levels before they run out completely. You can determine the level that constitutes “low stock” and program the system to notify you when that level is reached.
As well as generating reorder reports, the best inventory planning software uses inventory forecasting to automatically calculate preferred stock levels, lead times, and reorder points—and even goes ahead and purchases new stock when needed, saving you more time and avoiding the risk of a costly stockout.
Efficient supplier detail management
If you have multiple suppliers, perhaps in various parts of the world, it can be tough to keep track of them all unless your system displays accurate details in one central place.
This includes details about products currently on order or in transit, the costs, payment terms, and shipping methods—plus contact information, transaction history, and handy notes about each supplier.
Advanced inventory management systems enable better communication with others in your supply chain and give you access to real-time information about the products.
Availability of SKU slots
If your warehouse uses a slotting system—where items are organized by SKU number, product type, or other characteristics—you’ll need your software to help with the task.
Basically, you’re relying on sales data to tell you which items are usually ordered together so that you can store them close together in the warehouse and reduce picking time. This way, you’ll maximize space and efficiency and potentially reduce carrying costs.
Categorization of inventory
Categorization is all about efficiency, making it easy to organize inventory in the way you want so you can easily locate particular products and report on products efficiently. Look for software that helps you organize your inventory into your preferred categories, such as volume of transactions or value.
This way, you’ll know instantly where and how each type of product should be stored, whether you’re protecting perishables or ensuring that popular items are more accessible. You’ll also have more tailored reporting.
One of the main advantages of inventory management and forecasting software is the ability for real-time reporting. At a minimum, you should expect up-to-date demand forecasts based on the most recently collected data, i.e., informed reports about your future demand.
Solutions like Inventory Planner offer you versatile reporting that lets you stay on top of your business performance from all angles. This includes real-time tracking of KPIs, business trends, and detailed reporting by product, brand, supplier, and warehouse.
Having real-time access to such a wealth of information will guide your business into the digital age; you will rise above the competition.
Automated PO creation
It’s great that demand planning software can predict stockouts and notify you when it’s time to replenish. Unfortunately, where some solutions fail is taking the next step. That is streamlining the process of creating a purchase order. If a team member is notified to create an order, the required time to manually construct one is an obstacle that can create costly delays and errors.
Demand planning software like Inventory Planner empowers your team with many options to create purchase orders with just a few clicks. Team members can even create an order straight from the replenishment report itself!
The application also lets you automate large POs by generating them in bulk. This eliminates the pain of PO creation so that your team can direct their attention elsewhere and your replenishment will arrive on time.
Tight data security
Security is a crucial aspect of any digital system, so look for software with full encryption and two-factor authentication. The software you choose should also comply with privacy laws and industry regulations. You have to be able to prove to your customers and suppliers that their details are protected against a data breach.
As forecasting setting is key to inventory planning software’s performance and the learning curve can be deep to fully master all the forecasting methods, it’s crucial to have software with an expert team who will help you configure your system and forecasting methods so that they’re tailored to your needs.
It’s also very important to have bespoke training for all of your users so your whole team can get the most out of the system. Last but not least, glitches are unavoidable for software, so it’s good to know that customer support is there for you in the event that you do need a little help.
Your business runs 24/7, so you should expect support to be there round the clock. Some providers charge you extra for this, so make sure you know what you’re getting. Look out for training packages, too.
Equip Inventory Planner for accurate and advanced inventory forecasting software
It’s time to ditch those spreadsheets and enter the modern age of business. Your business is looking to improve your demand planning; you want to decrease costs and increase profits (don’t we all?). You’ve been searching high and low for the perfect solution with all the right inventory forecasting tools.
Inventory Planner is the inventory forecasting software that will level up your business intelligence when it comes to demand planning and inventory planning. Every stockout or overstocked product is an opportunity to increase your revenue. So what are you waiting for?
Get in touch with the team at Inventory Planner today and start getting quicker and more accurate demand forecasts!