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Shopping for an inventory control system? It's a big decision. A good computer inventory control system is a major investment—and not just in dollars and time. When you buy a computer system, you are acquiring a partner with whom you will work day in, day out, a tool which will shape just about every aspect of running your store. In this document, we try to offer some useful advice on how to go about choosing the right system for you and your business.

What a good system delivers
Here's what a good inventory control system, properly installed and implemented, can bring to your company:

Enhanced productivity
A good CICS (computer inventory control system) should help you work faster and smarter. Sales should be smoother and more efficient at the cash register; and purchasing should become not just easier and less time consuming, but also smarter. Repetitive tasks and duplicate data entry are eliminated, and customer inquiries can now be answered with something other than "Ask [your name here]."

Better decision information
Your computerized inventory control system should pay for itself in increased productivity. But the real payoff comes in the better information it provides you. With good, fast searches, your employees should have the information they need to respond to customer inquiries of every kind. The information in depth you need should be provided by on-screen displays and customizable reports, allowing you to evaluate and monitor your inventory (its stock status, wholesale value, and sales and other history), your vendors (their open and historical POs, invoices, and overstock returns), your customers (their orders, current and completed), and every other aspect of your business.

Improved cash flow
Cash management is essential for any business. A good computerized inventory control system helps you use your valuable cash wisely. Just in time ordering, especially when done through electronic ordering, maximizes your buying power; and letting your system manage overstock returns will free up cash for additional purchases. The accurate cost of goods sold calculations that only a computer system can make will help you to determine which sections of your inventory are profitable and should be expanded, and which can be reduced or eliminated.

Accurate information
Whenever the same information is recorded more than once, the chance of errors and unbalanced entries increases enormously. What's more, anyone who has used a manual system knows how much time is taken up with recording information about sales, purchases and customers. In a good computerized inventory control system, information is gathered in the normal course of operations only once and then used throughout the system.

Improved human development
There are certain things people hate to do that computers do very well, like figuring out what items for a particular vendor need restocking, calculating sales tax for the month, and summarizing or preparing reports. Using an CICS contributes to employee effectiveness by allowing them to spend time helping customers and completing assignments rather than doing the mundane work that computers are designed to do.

More control
A computerized inventory control system can provide the real-time information you need to manage and control your business. Monitoring the effectiveness of departments and individuals on a detailed and continuous basis, you can predict what will happen to your business in time to take advantage of positive trends and to correct negative ones. A robust security system allows you to control who is allowed to do what in the store.