8 questions to ask potential vendors
There are lots of choices when it comes to choosing the right technology to run your craft business. Successful breweries and wineries build a tech stack with all the essential tools for POS, accounting, CRM, ecommerce, internal communication, wine club management, and more.
For many craft businesses, inventory management is one of the most important pieces of software and serves as the central hub for all data flowing through the business. An inventory management software can keep teams in sync and eliminate complicated spreadsheets and manual processes in favor of a digital solution.
But even though you know what you’re currently doing isn’t working, choosing a vendor can be difficult. If you are going to invest time and resources into onboarding a new vendor, you want to make sure that you make the right choice the first time.
Here’s our list of eight vital questions to ask potential software partners:
What’s your company mission?
Start off with this big-picture question that will give you an overview of the partner you’re considering. What is the company goal and how are they working to achieve it? If the answer isn’t about helping you better manage and grow your business, you may want to look elsewhere.
Does your solution connect to other technology I already use?
Find out if the inventory software has integrations with the accounting, point-of-sale, ecommerce and/or club management programs you already use — or plan to use in the future. This will allow you to reduce data entry in multiple systems, saving you valuable time and ensuring accuracy of information.
Is my business type and size typical for your client base?
For some software tools, you can choose a general program that works for many types of businesses. But when it comes to managing inventory for your brewery, winery, or cidery, an off-the-shelf solution isn’t going to cut it — you need something specifically created for your business. Make sure you check out the company’s client list and case studies, and ask if you can speak to references who already use the system.
Is my team able to use your inventory software anywhere, on any device?
Any software solution you choose should be cloud-based and accessible from any device, no matter where you are. Ask about mobile apps or other features that enable you to make updates and check information while on the go. This is a great opportunity to check whether you pay per user or get unlimited users with your subscription.
How often do you make updates to your inventory software?
It’s great to have a solution that meets your needs right now, but as you grow and change, you want your inventory management system to grow with you. Make sure that you choose a partner who makes regular updates, has a set product roadmap, and employs an experienced engineering team that can work on defects and build new features.
What is your customer support like?
When you have questions about how to use the software, you want to be easily connected to a knowledgeable support team of product experts with a high customer satisfaction rating. In addition to support specialists, ask about the onboarding process, available training materials, and if they have a user community where you can talk to other users and provide product feedback.
Is the data in the system automatically updated in real time?
With so many moving parts in your business, you want your team to work together seamlessly. This often means multiple people working in the same system at the same time, so you’ll want to ensure that the data is updated automatically across every user without any manual syncs. This helps cut down on errors and ensures everyone has access to the latest information.
What is the total cost?
For many craft businesses, one of the most important factors in choosing inventory software is the cost. But it’s not always as simple as choosing a package on the website. Make sure you understand the “all-in” costs, which may include onboarding, additional users, customer support, integrations, and more. Keep in mind that cheap products aren’t always the best value. The right vendor will be able to explain the value of each add-on so you can feel good about your purchase.
Choose the right partner
These questions should help you gather all the information you need to make a decision about the right inventory management software. At the end of the day, it is about more than just choosing a piece of technology. You want to choose a provider whose product will deliver measurable value for your business and can be a true partner that is invested in your success.