Hard cider might not be in the cultural mainstream to the degree that wine and beer are, but it’s increasingly becoming a popular option in consumers’ refrigerators and restaurants, offering a tasty and fruity alternative to the more established beverages. The industry is growing, and it is increasingly defined by craft cideries taking on larger brands.
Of course, industry growth also means having to streamline and optimize operations. As more players enter the field, even successful cideries have to enhance their beverage production and operation management. There’s no shortcut to reaching that point of success, but finding and implementing the best cider management software available is a great start.
Finding that platform requires both strategy and forethought. From knowing which features to look for to understanding how those features can enhance your operations, it’s important to arm yourself with helpful criteria for locating the right solution. When following up on your research, make sure that the software you’re evaluating can hold its promise. This guide can help you get there.
7 Features of the Best Cider Management Software
The first step in finding the right cidery software is determining common ground for evaluating your options. That means taking a closer look at the features that these types of platforms have.
To be sure, each of the best cider management software options you evaluate might have slightly different variations of the same features. Still, finding common ground in these general areas is central to ensuring that your eventual choice has what it takes to optimize your business operations and production processes.
Feature #1. Cloud-Based Recordkeeping to Build a Single Source of Truth
First and perhaps most fundamentally, the benefit of any software involves pulling out your basic business records and moving them into a central database. That unified system can then become the single source of truth for all of your staff, reducing confusion and duplication while making it easy to look up important information like:
- Custom cider recipes and their production schedules
- Production processes and steps, including built-in quality assurance
- Financial and inventory records that are updated regularly
- Sales data from all channels of revenue
Ideally, this single source of truth doesn’t live on disparate spreadsheets and paper logs on the premises of your cidery but in the cloud. That way, you and your team can access any of these records from anywhere, regardless of your current location. Whether you manage multiple sites or simply want to build in flexibility, this cloud-based access significantly improves your information management.
Feature #2. Centralized Inventory Management to Keep Your Production on Schedule
As any experienced cidery manager knows, the way you manage your inventory can make or break your entire business. It’s imperative to have ingredients on hand to keep producing your cider on schedule, without storing so much that it risks spoiling or otherwise reducing the quality of your finished product.
Related: Why Maintaining Negative Inventory in Inventory Management Software Is a Bad Idea
Of course, avoiding negative inventory quantities in your record-keeping is important, which can be a convenient shortcut to mark an item as out of stock but introduces significant long-term problems. Instead, look for cider management software that optimizes your inventory management.
That software should keep track of your inventory in real-time while also making it easy to reorder common ingredients with minimal effort. Extra features, such as automated reorders for ingredients below a certain threshold or a visual floor plan showing where your ingredients and supplies can be found, improve the process even more.
Feature #3. Advanced Accounting Features and Integrations to Keep Your Finances Straight
Finances are among the biggest challenges small businesses face. Not getting your finances and accounting right can risk the health and survival of your entire business. Implementing the right software with accounting features can help you work through those struggles.
It starts with the above-mentioned record-keeping abilities. Tracking your finances in a central system builds that single source of truth you can always rely on for your finances. For financial data to flow in through external software like your POS system or QuickBooks, you should have natural integrations in place that collect it all to build your financial statements and reports for better insights.
Feature #4. Real-Time and Automated Insights to Drive Efficiencies
In addition to building efficiencies, creating a centralized system for all of your data creates another advantage that cannot be underestimated. Look for cider management software with in-depth reporting options, and you can easily reference that data when needed to get greater insights into your business and make improvements accordingly.
At their best, these reports happen in real-time. Because the data is already at home and integrated into the system, you can pull anything from sales to inventory data at any point. Some software options also offer automated report building, enabling you to get regular snapshots of business performance and production so you can monitor larger trends and operational improvements.
Feature #5. Task Management Features to Streamline the Workflow
Naturally, the bulk of your daily work will revolve around producing the cider you sell. It likely involves multiple staff members at every step, which is why the best cider management software also includes task management features to keep the production on track and on schedule.
Think of it as the basics of good project management. Assigning tasks for your team means they always have an overview of what needs to be done and when it should be completed. Combine those individual tasks with the larger production logs and schedules, and you can always maintain an overview of the process, from tracking individual ingredients to testing the quality of the finished project.
Feature #6. Keg Tracking to Keep Your Products Fresh
Chances are your cidery doesn’t just rely on direct-to-consumer sales. Working with local restaurants and bars is a crucial piece of diversifying your revenue streams. Of course, these partnerships require a little extra management on your part. Your business partners will keep your kegs until they’re empty, which means the product could spoil or expire if they don’t sell in time. Plus, the cost of buying new kegs all the time can add up quickly.
That’s why the best cider management software offers keg-tracking capabilities. One such system might include being able to scan the barcodes of freshly produced kegs, enabling you to reconcile which customers have which kegs. Now, you can more easily swap out empty or stale kegs without having to rely on the customer to let you know.
Feature #7. Natural Scalability to Account for Future Growth
Finally, no cidery software you evaluate should hold you back from future changes to your business. Naturally, your goal is to succeed financially, leading to potential growth opportunities and greater success. Any software option you choose should have features that easily scale with your cidery when the time comes.
Related: Don’t Forget This Crucial Part of a Hard Cidery Business Plan
At its core, that means the features and functionality should offer the same level of utility while your business expands. It also goes beyond that, such as the ability to set up the same software for multiple locations. The more flexible the software, without changing its core features, the better.
How to Evaluate Cider Management Software for Your Business
Any evaluation of the best cider management software should begin with these seven features. However, they don’t necessarily account for your unique situation. A few steps can help you make sure that you find the best possible option for your business and outlook.
- Be sure that the price point aligns with your budget. It’s counterproductive to spend so much on software that it negatively impacts your profitability.
- Look for reviews and ask for references. This can help to ensure that the claims and features presented on a website actually impact real-life cidery operations.
- Prioritize dedicated tools. You’ll find plenty of generalized ERP and inventory management systems. A platform designed for craft beverages likely offers more relevant functionality.
- Test it out for yourself. Look for software that offers a free demo or trial period that lets you dive in to see how the features and functionalities work for you.
Following these steps while considering the features above will help you evaluate the best cider management platforms that fit your business. The right software can lead to tangible improvements in your processes and the success of your cidery.
Find the Best Cider Management Software For Your Business
As the industry continues to grow, cidery software increasingly becomes an essential tool for your operations. In fact, finding the best cider management software can go a long way toward ensuring quality production and boosting efficiencies across your entire business.As with any growing industry, you’ll find plenty of platforms claiming to be optimized for your niche without actually being tailored or customized to the industry. That’s not the case with Ekos, a craft beverage software trusted by beverage makers on six continents. Schedule your free demo today and start to optimize your cidery business management.