Inventory mismanagement is rampant across the industry despite the best efforts of operations managers, employees, and companies. Mismanagement results in canceled orders due to inventory shortages, which in turn, lead to revenue losses.
Deciding to use inventory management software is the right step, but how do you justify the ROI when you’re already suffering losses? The solution is free inventory management software.
But why free software?
First, it doesn’t cost you anything. This provides the ROI justification to implement it. Second, it helps you improve the customer experience you have to offer. The free software automatically tracks your inventory and alerts you in case of shortage. With this automation, you can significantly reduce the chances of order cancellation.
A free inventory management solution will trigger business growth in two ways: you save on software costs and reduce revenue losses due to canceled orders.
To help you find the right free software for your business, we’ve analyzed the reviews and functionalities of about 90 free and open source inventory management solutions listed on Capterra. Of these solutions, we then shortlisted the best five tools.
What does “best” mean? Each of the five tools included in this piece has a minimum user rating of 4.0 over the past year. You can find our full methodology here. We’ve sorted this list in alphabetical order.
5 best free and open-source inventory management solutions
1. inFlow Inventory
inFlow Inventory suits businesses of all sizes. Its free version is deployed on-premise and lets you manage up to 100 products and customers. This version includes barcoding, cost management, sales orders, purchase orders, and count sheet functionalities.
inFlow’s unique selling point (USP) is its payments tracking functionality, which provides real-time details of all the completed and pending payment transactions.
Users can upgrade to two paid plans—Regular and Premium. In addition to the features in the free version, these plans include separate user logins, bills of materials (BOM), work orders, and product serial numbers management.
|Capterra reviewers found the product’s inventory forecasts helpful in curbing the instances of over-orders and inventory shortages. They also said that eCommerce integrations, such as Magento and Shopify, helped them manage their online inventory.||Users note that the lack of accounting integration is a disadvantage. They have to export transaction data from inFlow and manually add it to their accounting tool. Some reviewers also feel that the product’s invoice templates are outdated. They noted that the templates need an upgrade with new layouts and formats.|
Cost to upgrade: $399 per user for the Regular plan.
Highly rated by: In 2018-2019, 82% of inFlow’s reviewers worked in small businesses (with less than 200 employees). These businesses operate in industries such as retail, electrical and electronics manufacturing, and construction.
Mobile apps: Android, iOS
Odoo is an open source enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution for businesses of all sizes.
But, what is an ERP solution doing in this list?
Despite Odoo being an ERP tool, users can download and access its inventory module, using it as a standalone inventory management solution. Odoo’s USP is that it is a full suite ERP, making the product suitable for your CRM, project management, and business management needs.
Odoo is available for free if you implement only the inventory management module. Users need to pay for other apps such as CRM and project management.
|Capterra reviewers found Odoo’s accounting integration helpful as it eliminates the time needed to manually move the transaction data to the accounting system. They also said that Odoo’s community forum helped them get answers to the questions they posted on the forum.||Some users said that the installation and customization require basic knowledge of the Python programming language. Some also reported that the lack of proper product documentation was a hurdle during product setup and training.|
Cost to upgrade: The inventory module is completely free.
Highly rated by: In 2018-2019, about 82% of Odoo’s reviewers were from small businesses. They were from industries such as software technology, IT services, and retail.
Mobile apps: Android, iOS
3. Sortly Pro
Sortly Pro is a cloud-based inventory management solution for businesses of all sizes. Its free plan supports one user and lets you manage up to 100 transaction entries per month.
Sortly Pro’s USP is its product tagging and cataloging functionality that lets users create product catalogs with up to eight photos for each item.
If you want to manage more than 100 entries per month, upgrade to the Advanced or Ultra plans. In addition to the features offered in the free version, these plans offer QR code tagging and scanning, user activity tracking, document management, and customized branding.
|Capterra reviewers find Sortly Pro’s mobile app helpful in remotely tracking as well as managing inventory and re-orders. They also said that the product’s barcode and serial number functionalities helped them track inventory movement more efficiently because they were able to implement barcodes easily.||Some users noted that once you upgrade the product, the total cost increases sharply when you add more users. They said that the product’s inventory history functionality provides a list of records that is complex and difficult to understand. They feel that this functionality could be made easier to understand.|
Cost to upgrade: The Advanced plan starts at about $40 per month for up to three users.
Highly rated by: In 2018-2019, about 80% of Sortly Pro’s reviewers were from small businesses. Most of these reviewers came from the design, construction, and retail sectors.
Mobile apps: Android, iOS
ZhenHub is a cloud-based logistics and inventory management solution for small and midsize businesses (SMBs). Its free version offers inventory tracking, shipment tracking, and warehouse management.
ZhenHub’s USP is its shipping management functionality that integrates with multiple shipping solutions such as DHL and FedEx. It lets you schedule, manage, and track orders from these providers.
The free version lets you manage one warehouse and supports up to 50 online orders per month. If you want to manage more orders per month or add more warehouses, you can upgrade to the Starter, Standard, or Professional plans.
|Capterra reviewers found the Shopify integration helpful as they were able to manage their inventory and shipping for website orders with ease. They also found the product’s features easily customizable as per their business needs.||Some users said that they experienced a lag when using the shipping tracking functionality. They said that it can sometimes take time for the shipping status to sync up with the shipper’s account. Some also mentioned that as ZhenHub charges both sender and receiver fees for international transfers, it can make billing costly.|
Cost to upgrade: $29 per month for the Starter plan.
Highly rated by: In 2018-2019, all of ZhenHub’s reviewers came from small businesses in the apparel and fashion as well as consumer electronics sectors.
Mobile apps: Not available.
5. Zoho Inventory
Zoho Inventory is a cloud-based inventory and warehouse management solution for SMBs. Its free version lets you manage 20 online orders, 20 offline orders, 12 shipments, and 1 warehouse per month. This version also lets you select and manage shipping providers for your orders.
Workflow management functionality is the free version’s USP. It triggers an alert as soon as the stock dips below the critical level and lets you re-order the stock.
Besides the Free plan, users can upgrade to three paid plans—Basic, Standard, and Professional. These plans offer serial number tracking, batch tracking, a higher number of orders per month, composite items management, and all the free features.
|Capterra reviewers find the product’s sales order (SO), purchase order (PO), and expense tracking functionalities helpful in automating inventory procurement. They also noted that Zoho’s shipping management tracking functionality helped them schedule and track the location of inventory items more efficiently.||A few reviewers from manufacturing companies found the lack of a bill of material (BOM) functionality to be a disadvantage. They were forced to use a time-consuming workaround in place of this feature. Some users also reported issues in syncing data when managing eCommerce orders.|
Cost to upgrade: $49 per month for the Basic plan.
Highly rated by: In 2018-2019, 98% of Zoho Inventory’s reviewers were from small businesses. Most of these reviewers belonged to the retail, electrical and electronics manufacturing, consumer goods, and IT services industries.
Mobile apps: Android, iOS
The final decision: Which free inventory management solution to invest in?
After reviewing this list, the next step is to find out which one of these products will best fit your business needs. Here are the steps to help you do just that:
- Shortlist solutions based on the number of monthly orders allowed in the free plan.
- Review this features list and select the features you’ll need in your business. Shortlist those products that offer all the essential features you need.
- Decide an annual budget for the inventory management software. Select products that fit within your budget, so that you can afford all the upgrades.
If you’ve used, or are currently using, a free inventory management system that works well for you, please let us know in the comments section below.