Inventory Management

How Can I Keep Track of My Inventory for Free?

April 3, 2024 • 3 min read

Keeping track of inventory sounds simple—but rarely is. Inventory management is actually a major pain point for businesses large and small. Poor inventory management leads to, at best, wasted resources. At worst, mismanaged inventory can lead to costly product shortages and work stoppages that send clients and customers straight to the competition.

Luckily, there are several ways to keep track of inventory, totally free. 

How can I keep track of my inventory for free?

You can keep track of inventory for free using pen and paper, an inventory spreadsheet, or free inventory management software. Some modern inventory management apps, including Sortly, all offer free subscriptions to their products. 

Each of these three inventory management systems (paper, spreadsheet, and app) has its own set of pros and cons. 

Pros and cons of free pen-and-paper inventory

Some businesses track their inventory on a sheet of paper. Of course, such a system is extremely limited, and works best for businesses that stock fewer than 50 items in one location, and employ just a few people.

Here are the benefits of tracking inventory on a sheet of paper, a word document, or even a sticky note:


  • Totally free
  • Any employee can help, even if they’re not tech-savvy


  • No real way to back up or store inventory if paper is lost 
  • Impossible to generate reports, forecast, or digest data
  • Must be updated constantly
  • Difficult or impossible to collaborate on 
  • Not compatible with photos, barcodes, or QR codes
  • No functionality for low stock alerts or other reminders
  • Can be very time-consuming and tedious

Free Ebook: Getting Started With Inventory Tracking

This easy, comprehensive guide will help you:

  • Determine your business's inventory levels and needs
  • Organize your inventory for optimal tracking
  • Follow tried-and-true best practices for inventory management

Pros and cons of a free inventory spreadsheet

Some companies use spreadsheets to track the details of their inventory. While a spreadsheet is certainly a more modern inventory management system than using an inventory sheet, it’s still an error-prone way to track inventory.


  • Easy to get started
  • Free
  • No equipment necessary, besides a computer
  • Usually not too technologically complicated  


  • Cannot properly add pictures or other non-alphanumeric content 
  • Cannot link barcodes, QR codes
  • Very error-prone
  • Still must gather inventory information manually, then transfer it to the spreadsheet
  • Spreadsheets not saved to the cloud can be outdated, impossible to access remotely
  • Spreadsheets saved to the cloud could be corrupted or hacked
  • No way to set alerts for low stock and other important dates 

Pros and cons of a free inventory app

Finally, more and more businesses are choosing inventory software to track their inventory. These days, much of this software is offered in the form of inventory apps. These apps typically offer both free and paid subscriptions. 

Inventory apps should offer time-saving automation features, like low stock alerts, barcode and QR code scanning and more. 

In a perfect world, a free inventory app:

  • Saves time, money, and stress
  • Safely secures data 
  • Can be accessed from anywhere, anytime—even when away from the inventory
  • Is collaborative, great for teams
  • Is customizable 

Of course, not all apps are created equal. Find an app that’s intuitive and modern, even for a free app! Some inventory management software requires expensive equipment: look for versions that allow you to use existing hardware, like phones or tablets. Also, many of these apps may offer very expensive paid versions. Look for an app that offers a reasonable monthly subscription, should your business needs change.

About Sortly

Sortly is an inventory management solution that helps you track, manage, and organize your inventory—from any device, in any location. We’re an easy-to-use inventory software that’s perfect for small businesses. Sortly builds inventory tracking seamlessly into your workday so you can save time and money, satisfy your customers, and help your business succeed.

With Sortly, you can track inventory, supplies, parts, tools, assets like equipment and machinery, and anything else that matters to your business. It comes equipped with smart features like barcoding & QR coding, low stock alerts, customizable folders, data-rich reporting, and much more. Best of all, you can update inventory right from your smartphone, whether you’re  on the job, in the warehouse, or on the go.

Whether you’re just getting started with inventory management or you’re an expert looking for a more efficient solution, we can transform how your company manages inventory—so you can focus on building your business. That’s why over 15,000 businesses globally trust us as their inventory management solution.

Start your two-week free trial of Sortly today.