Compare the top 7 free inventory management solutions
There comes a point in time for every business when using spreadsheets alone to manage your inventory is more time-consuming, tedious, and overly complicated than it needs to be. When you start to feel like your spreadsheet system is taking up all your time instead of saving it, the simple solution to keep your business growing is upgrading to an inventory management software.
But many owners of small and medium-sized businesses will quickly discover that enterprise-level software is too robust for their current needs. And on a small or midsize business budget, many solutions are more expensive than most organizations would like. The good news is that there is a cheaper solution for your current stage of growth — free inventory management systems.
If you find that your company is outgrowing spreadsheets but not quite big enough for more complex enterprise-level software, free inventory control solutions can help you bridge the gap by giving you better tools without breaking the bank.
There is a wide variety of free inventory control software available online. To help you decide which option is best suited for your company, you’ll want to consider what your needs are now — and which tools and features will help your company continue to grow in the future.
A simple comparison of some of the most common features offered in a free inventory management system — and why you may or may not want to be concerned that your inventory software doesn’t have it — can help you make the best choice.
The top 7 free inventory management solutions for 2022
The best way to keep track of your inventory without increasing costs dramatically is to use a free inventory management solution. Many new businesses can scrape by just using spreadsheets at first, but they will often outgrow them and eventually require a more sophisticated tool to meet their expanding needs.
With free inventory management software, you get the capabilities of a system designed specifically for inventory control without the higher costs of an enterprise-level solution.
The top seven free inventory management solutions for 2022 are:
Each of these inventory control solutions is free online and offers slightly different features and challenges that should be considered thoroughly before making a final decision. Here is a breakdown of key features for each free inventory management software at a glance.
In addition to comparing system features and weaknesses, you should also note how much it costs to upgrade from the free version of the software to the enterprise-level package. While you may not need the full breadth and power of the system at your current growth stage, there will likely come a day when your company outgrows the tools offered in the free version of an inventory management solution. So, it’s best to be prepared and take into account any potential future costs.
Magento Open Source, the open-source version of Adobe Commerce, is a free ecommerce platform that helps B2B, B2C, and B2B/B2C hybrid companies customize and manage the customer experience, providing the foundational building blocks for small commerce operations. It offers extensive inventory management features with all the tools you need to grow your business from one warehouse to a complex shipping network. For small and medium-sized businesses that are looking to dip their toes into an inventory management system, Magento Open Source is a great place to start.
- Supports multiple shipping options
- Supports multiple physical locations
- Multichannel capabilities
- Point-of-sale (POS) inventory
- Open source
Open source is free but requires more effort
When using Magento Open Source, merchants are responsible for shouldering more operational burden due to custom development, infrastructure, and support gaps. Because it has a more limited feature set, a functionality void can emerge between it and Adobe Commerce.
Other challenges include:
Limited growth — lacks native features for growth like content and promotion personalization, as well as B2B capabilities.
Long-term cost — requires more customization and extensions.
Operational inefficiency — relies heavily on developer and IT dependencies for daily operations, and involves manual processes when implementing changes.
Business challenges — lack of technical support when resolving critical issues, and DIY cloud infrastructure and hosting introduces some security and compliance challenges.
2. Zoho Inventory
Zoho Inventory is an online inventory management solution for US-based companies. It’s designed specifically with small and growing businesses in mind and has the tools to manage items and fulfill orders across channels and devices. Zoho Inventory offers a variety of plan options so you can select the best plan to meet your business needs while staying firmly within the limits of your budget.
- Ecommerce integration
- Serial or batch number tracking
- Shipping management — track items from shipment to delivery with aftership integration
- Real-time reports are updated automatically
- Great mobile app
No forecasting options available
The lack of forecasting capabilities could prove problematic for companies wanting to predict and plan for future demand. Smaller businesses may be able to manage without this feature by doing their own forecasting manually, or you could turn to an outside tracking and forecasting software to fill this need.
Insufficient segmentation options
While Zoho Inventory does include a wide range of intuitive reports, in-depth segmentation options are only available in Zoho CRM, which is an integration with additional costs.
Limited number of orders per month
Each Zoho Inventory plan includes limits on the number of orders that can be fulfilled monthly. The free inventory management plan is limited to 50 orders, 50 shipping labels, and 50 Aftership tracking services each month.
Limited locations and users
The free version of Zoho Inventory plans limits locations to one warehouse and allows for a maximum of only two users in the account.
The Odoo inventory management software focuses primarily on optimizing your warehouse to help streamline internal processes and boost efficiency. It boasts cutting-edge automation with advanced features such as dropshipping, cross-docking, and multi-warehouse management capabilities. The Odoo inventory control software is designed to be a more organized online management system with a very modern look and a professional feel.
- Includes inventory forecasting
- Supports multiple physical locations
- Multichannel capabilities
- Open source
- SaaS or self-hosted — unlike other open-source inventory management software, you don’t have to worry about paying to host your system on another site
- Unique double-entry inventory system — provides total traceability for every stock move from anywhere in your supply chain
Odoo has focused on creating a modern, sophisticated inventory management system — but despite being an open-source platform, it does not allow for extensive customizations.
No integrations included with the free plan
While it is possible to connect Odoo with other apps and shipping partners, each integration comes at an additional cost — which means businesses may outgrow the free version rather quickly.
No mobile app on the free plan
The free inventory management plan does not include a mobile app. However, this feature is available on upgraded software or by purchasing additional mobile integrations.
4. Square Inventory Management
Square Inventory Management offers businesses efficiency and accessibility. Users can access their Square Dashboard on any computer with an internet connection and quickly import products or update inventory in bulk using CSV spreadsheets.
- Point-of-sale (POS) inventory
- Bulk inventory management capabilities
- Stock email alerts are built in to notify you automatically when items are low or out of stock
- Great mobile app
Can be outgrown quickly
The free Square Inventory Management software is intended for beginners and small businesses. It grants access to basic inventory management features to help users get started with inventory control software, but the features are extremely limited compared to the full package. Companies expecting significant growth over a short period of time may find themselves outgrowing the free plan fairly quickly.
No purchasing or supplier features
While you can easily manage item details through your Square Dashboard, Point of Sale app, or exported report showing inventory stock levels at any one point in time, that is the extent of the Square Inventory Management capabilities. There are not any purchasing or supplier features to help you keep track of vendor details or analyze what purchases have been made over time.
Only works with Square POS payment processing
The Square Point of Sale (POS) app is the only way to process payments from customers. Square POS does work with various credit cards and is compatible with a variety of hardware such as chip readers, registers, and magstripe readers. Still, some companies may find the lack of compatibility with other payment processing systems to be too restricting for their business needs.
Stockpile is a free online inventory management software for small businesses and home-based entrepreneurs. This free inventory software stands out from the rest by offering unlimited items, locations, and users on the platform. Stockpile includes features to help you quickly add inventory, process returns, and keep accurate records of sales made and damaged goods. The tools and features included in Stockpile have everything you need to help you successfully operate your small business and stay on top of your inventory.
- No product limitations
- Unlimited locations
- Unlimited users — a tiered access model helps manage users and restrict use to just the locations or information needed
- Reporting module to track inventory turnover
Because simplicity is at the heart of the Stockpile design, there are no integrations included in the system or offered at an extra charge.
No paid plans
At first glance, no paid plans may seem like a great deal — but keep in mind that this means there is no opportunity to expand or upgrade the software once your company eventually outgrows it.
A user-friendly inventory software system, inFlow is suited for those whose experience with inventory management is mainly limited to spreadsheets. It aims to be usable for anyone immediately, so you don’t need advanced technical training or extensive support to operate it successfully. In addition to inventory management, inFlow can also support manufacturing and assembly tracking to help companies keep records of raw materials in addition to finished products.
- B2B portal
Limit of 100 products on the free version
The free version of inFlow On-Premise supports up to 100 products and customers. Regular and premium versions, however, include unlimited products and customers.
No support on the free version
While this version of inFlow is free forever, there is no technical support included. You will have access to the On-Premise Knowledge Base to reference help articles and videos. Additionally, the inFlow website claims that any user can purchase support for $99 per hour.
The free version only integrates with Shopify
The free version of inFlow is limited to one integration, and it’s with Shopify. The other plans offered by inFlow as upgrades to the free version offer additional integration capabilities. If your business requires multiple integrations, you may find yourself outgrowing the free plan quickly.
No active development
In 2018, the software stopped active development of inFlow On-Premise. It is still available for purchase, but there will be no new features added or fixes made for any problems that may still exist.
It’s Windows-only software
The inFlow On-Premise software is not supported on Mac computers or smartphone devices and can only run on Windows PCs.
RightControl is a stock control system that’s a great option for ecommerce. It’s best suited for small to medium-sized companies utilizing mail or internet-based ordering. RightControl is designed to provide detailed inventory data at your fingertips, as well as additional features to assist with sales and invoicing, barcode generation, and contact information management.
- Good CRM
- Generates barcodes
- Comprehensive reporting system
- Invoice generation and management
- Same functionality as upgraded packages — unlike other inventory management solutions, where the free version is a watered-down version of the enterprise-level package, RightControl has the same functionality in each package. The only difference between each level is the limit on user numbers, product lines, and service providers.
10-item limit on the free version
With RightControl Lite, users are limited to 10 items. RightControl does offer several plans after the free version, so you can upgrade and raise this limit at your own pace.
Does not support multiple physical locations
This free inventory software is best suited for businesses with only one physical location. It does not support inventory management across multiple locations or warehouses.
Only operates on Windows PCs
RightControl is only compatible with Windows PCs. It is not supported on Mac computers or smartphone devices.
Methodology — How we chose these 7 solutions
The seven free inventory software solutions mentioned above are some of the most popular on the market today. Since you have already been researching potential inventory control software, you’ve likely come upon at least a few — if not all — of them in your searches.
We first considered popularity in the marketplace, but that was only to help us filter out the more obscure and less-recommended platforms. Next was the availability of a free plan or version of the solution that’s less robust than enterprise-level inventory management solutions but still includes the basic tools needed for small business owners to find value in using it.
We evaluated the most important features that a modern, growing business needs in order to efficiently manage its inventory day to day. Here are some of the key features we determined:
- Whether or not the inventory management solution was open source
- If there were any limits on items, orders, locations, or users in the account
- Which integrations, if any, were offered with the free version or at an additional cost
- Which operating systems were compatible with the inventory control software, and whether a mobile app was available
- The inventory management solution’s reporting and forecasting capabilities, if any
We also made note of challenges and potential areas for improvement within each solution to help make business owners aware of when these key features were not included in the software.
One of the smartest things you can do is to choose a free inventory management software that has the tools and capability to grow with you. That way, you can avoid the painful transition of trying to move your expanding company over to an entirely new inventory management solution in the future. Be sure to take cost into consideration so you can — hopefully soon — plan on that inevitable upgrade.
Getting started with inventory control software
If you are spending significant amounts of time updating and managing your inventory each week, then it’s time to move away from rudimentary spreadsheets and get your business on a free inventory control solution as soon as possible.
By using a free inventory management software, you’ll benefit from:
- Increased efficiency
- Tools and features designed specifically for inventory management
- More automation and assistance with day-to-day operations
- Better reporting and forecasting capabilities so you can analyze data more thoroughly and be better prepared to meet the future demand of your customers
- Opportunities to integrate with other platforms and partner with shipping carriers to provide customers with more visibility into the entire process and a seamless shopping experience from purchase to delivery
Magento Open Source is the best free inventory management solution — not only because it has the ability to grow with your company to a national or even global size, but because it also sets you up for future success.
Unlike many other free inventory management platforms, Magento Open Source doesn’t try to limit you by restricting locations or shipping options. Instead, it helps you lay a foundation for inventory management that you can then confidently build upon to help ensure growth and greater success in the years to come.
As you prepare to make a final decision on which free inventory software you’d like to start out with, always remember to think ahead. Begin by making a list of what you need in an inventory management solution today, then make a second list with what you expect to need in an inventory management solution five years from now. The criteria on these two lists will help you narrow down your software options and ultimately choose a system that will grow with your business well into the future.
Take a product tour to see for yourself how Magento Open Source can help you continue to build your business.