Inventory Software

I've been resarching and comparing various inventory software packages and wonder if anyone has any they can recommend.

Here is what I'm finding - lots of options that if I enter our initial quantity of a finished product, track the sales, will give me the current quantity, most with the option to print bar codes which wil reduce my bookkeeping time.  That's all that I originally thought I wanted in my inventory program, but my no, that's not enough, my husband has other ideas and that's where I'm stuck.

What I'm missing?  If I decide to create a production list, something that will tell me what quantity of raw materials I need.

For example, if there is a certain style of bracelet my husband makes that takes 30 grams of 16 guage sterling, 15 grams of 18 gauge, I want 3 of those in stock before our first show in March, I can't find a program that will give me the needed raw materials after we input our current quantity.

Now, I've previously built the production side of this into my spreadsheet but I don't have the first part of the inventory (beginning inventory, current inventory, etc) all built into that.

So, before I go through the effort of massively rebuilding my spreadsheet and testing my somewhat rusty Excel skills (especially with the Excel 2007 version), I was wondering if anyone had suggestions on a package they use?


You need to be a member of Art Fair Insiders to add comments!

Join Art Fair Insiders

Votes: 0
Email me when people reply –


  • Ruth-

    there is a Jewelry Maker Pro software out there...I'm not sure if it is what you need, but I believe it is. Just google it.

    I see ad banners for it all the freaking time.  I believe it's an inventory, raw materials, and cost control system all in one, and will alert you when you are getting low on materials, or product, and helps you "price" your finished goods. 

    • Karole - is this the software you were thinking about?  Looks like it might be a great fit for what I'm wanting.  Thanks!!

      • Yes that's the one Ruth...gonna get it myself! Need to streamline the the time consuming, never ending updating of the books, spreadsheets, inventory etc! Need to get something that will save me time on those tasks that take me out of creative mode and into office drudge mode!

      • I used it for a long time....good program....but doesn't run on a mac.  I had to run it with parallels, which was ok, but just bugged me.  Finally switched to another, but think JDM has the most flexibility.


  • Larry, the queries are the fun part.  Jim, once you build your database program with the properties you want, all you have to do is enter the data and you can run queries and reports on anything you need to know.  The key word is "relational," vs a simple database. We had MS Office, so, that's what I used.

  • The best place to start is to do what software developers do: write a requirements document. Briefly, write down everything you think you need in your program. Get input from your husband. Once you think you have all the requirements on paper, prioritize them: very important, somewhat important, not so important, nice to have. Then look at the requirements from a dependency standpoint. What features require other inputs or datasets in order to function? Sometimes you find that features that seem simple require complicated back-end calculations in order to be really useful. You must boil ALL of the requirements down into three camps: Must Have, Nice to Have, Don't Need. Without a good requirements document, you will constantly keep reinventing the wheel. Don't forget future needs, either. Do you need to be able to scale your application? Will you be buying in bulk, and getting tiered discounts? How about contract labor? Only you can raise the questions, and answer them. 

    Can your application be built in a phased approach? Sometimes creating the whole thing is so daunting that you never start. On the other hand, if you build something and find two years later that you missed an important connection, it may be impossible to go back and retrofit it into an existing application. Keep in mind that it is way easier to plan on paper than it is to build on top of a faulty foundation.

    This is a very complicated equation. It requires a good knowledge of database design to make it work well. IMO, Filemaker is easier to develop with than Access. Filemaker is available on both Windows and Mac platforms, and can be used as a mobile application, either with Filemaker Go (on iPad), or as a web application, accessible via browser. I carry my entire inventory with me to shows on a FMP database synced to my iPad -- I can look up any item to see how many products I have in inventory, and where they are stored.

    But speaking from experience, my application was developed as a flat database, and desperately needs to be rewritten as a relational database. I have many functions built in, but I spend too much time keeping the data up to date. I do some of it in Excel, then duplicate the effort in FMP. This comes from building it without a clear picture of what I really needed. At the time, it made sense. Now, I have a much better idea of what it COULD be, but I don't have the time to spend to redevelop it.

    You will find that there are commercial products that get you 80% there. Getting that last 20% will be difficult without custom programming, or compromising on your feature set. Full fledged manufacturing software will likely cost too much. Paying a developer will likely cost too much. Shareware applications may be sufficient to give you an idea of what's possible, but I guarantee you that nothing will include all the features in your requirements document. 

    Good luck!

    Jim Parker

    • Thanks Jim, I'll look at Filemaker, as I mentioned to Barry, I've tried Access but relational databases and my brain just do not function the same way.

      • You can do quite a bit with Excel and lookup tables, if you cannot master Filemaker. For example, I do a sales summary sheet after each show. I log each sale and Excel uses a separate table to look up the cost of the item. Then the summary sheet calculates net sale after sales tax and COG. The main drawback to this approach is that it doesn't take into account the fluctuation in the cost of raw materials or quantity discounts obtained on a specific lot. I decided long ago that it didn't matter to cut it that finely. But my materials lookup table is several years out of date. And changing it will change old lookups, if those sheets are updated. You can ignore the relinking of data in Excel as an option.

        But it's hard to generate reports from many summary sheets in Excel. And tracking customers is a whole other set of requirements. When you group your functions together, it quickly becomes obvious that a relational database is a better choice. You can separate cost of materials from sales, for example. You can build a separate dataset of customers, preferences and use that to market from, while still keeping it linked to your sales data. And you can create reports as you go, as the need arises.

    • Jim had a good idea. If you can write exactly what you need, and I mean exactly, you can probably get something written for you from a web site like:

      I've had two complicated web sites built for a very reasonable amount of money from another similar web site:

      Larry Berman

This reply was deleted.