Inventory Management

How can I keep track of my inventory for free?

A woman takes inventory on her laptop in a retail shop.

Keeping track of inventory is essential to any business whose operation depends on stock. Whether you stage real estate listings, serve up fancy lattes or run an auto shop, properly managing your inventory is key to keeping your business running properly and profitably. In this article, we’ll dive into the best ways to keep track of your inventory for free, including using pen and paper, an inventory excel spreadsheet and free inventory management software.

How can I keep track of my inventory for free?

You can keep track of your inventory for free using pen and paper, an inventory spreadsheet, or a free version of inventory management software. Inventory software that offers free subscriptions include:

  • Sortly
  • inFlow
  • Zoho Inventory
  • Odoo
  • ZhenHub

Many of these inventory management softwares, including Sortly, are actually inventory apps. That means they work beautifully on your phone, tablet or desktop–perfect for on the go inventorying! 

Here are more details on the different ways you can keep track of your inventory, absolutely free:

Free pen-and-paper inventory

While keeping track of inventory by hand might seem a little outdated, it’s a classic method that’s 100% free. All you need to do is make an inventory list.

An inventory list is an organized, complete list of every item stocked by your business. Details on the sheet include an item’s SKU, name, description, location, value and quantity in stock. 

Create a master list with blank quantities, then print out a new one every time you take inventory. You can affix the sheet to a clipboard for easy, on-the-go inventory counts.

Once you’re done taking inventory, you’ll want to retain your inventory list. This will create a record of your inventory history, allowing you to better understand how your business uses its stock over time. This knowledge can help you save time and money by empowering you to practice tight inventory control

Of course, there are significant downsides to tracking inventory by hand. It takes forever, the rate of human error is high, and it’s so easy for inventory lists to be lost or damaged. There also tends to be just one copy of paper inventory records, so you won’t be able to access your inventory at all times. 

Free inventory spreadsheet templates

Using a spreadsheet to track inventory is another popular and free way to manage stock. Whether you use Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel, or Numbers, managing inventory on a spreadsheet is popular, simple and affordable. 

You can either download a free inventory spreadsheet template, or create your own inventory spreadsheet. Either way, you’ll need to do some customizing to ensure you’re tracking the right details. 

Even though you’ll be tracking inventory on a spreadsheet, many people prefer to print out the templates to take inventory by hand. When you’re done, you can transfer all your data onto the spreadsheet, creating a new tab for every inventory date. This will create an inventory history, should you wish to review it. 

There are some serious drawbacks to using an inventory spreadsheet. It’s very easy to get your eyes crossed and make data entry errors. It’s also next-to-impossible to include attachments, photos and barcodes and QR codes. Plus, unless you’re using a cloud-based spreadsheet, your data could easily be lost, stolen, damaged or corrupted. 

Free inventory apps

Finally, you can track inventory for free using a modern inventory app. Many different companies have created inventory management solutions, but most of them offer a very limited free version. Look for a version like Sortly’s free product, which still offers tons of key features.

So, what does inventory management software do? Inventory management software is an asset tracking tool that allows businesses to monitor inventory levels. The best software alerts you when it’s time to restock a product, automates tedious inventory counts, and stores tons of high-res photos.

Best of all, a great inventory app will help you understand exactly what you’ve got on hand, even if you have a complex inventory stored across multiple locations.

About Sortly

Inventory is used on smartphones, a desktop computer and a tablet.

Sortly is a top-rated, intuitive solution to just about every inventory management headache. With key automation features, a simple interface and no external hardware required, why not give it a try today?

Sign up for a free account, or try a premium subscription completely free for two weeks. 

Further Reading

Why is inventory management important?

What is the best way to count inventory?