I know I have a lot of bacon, but how much exactly? 40 lbs? 80? More??!
June 1, 2014 5:15 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I own and manage a small farm, where we raise heritage/organic-fed/pastured/blah blah pork, beef, lamb, goat, poultry, etc. We sell cuts of frozen meat by the pound at farmers' markets and direct to consumers via a CSA-type model. However, we have nothing in place for managing what we have on hand, other than vague "I think the bacon was in the bottom on the left side, there should be enough for market today"-type information. We clearly need to get some kind of inventory management in place.

I feel like creating my own massive Google spreadsheet will be awkward, and getting up to speed on building my own system is overkill.

Some relevant info:
  • We are tech-savvy and have both worked in software design and front-end development.
  • Once or twice a month when we make deliveries or go to market, we will remove a bunch of stuff from inventory, and then bring back what doesn't sell.
  • Once every few months we will receive a lot of inventory and need to input it. It isn't always packed neatly so we'll be unpacking, like, a few packs of bacon and then twenty chops and then one jowl and then more bacon and then ribs and then three more jowls. Making this process easy to record would be great.
  • We are using Quickbooks Online for accounting but don't want to pay for the version that includes inventory management. This would change if other solutions are $25+ a month. Buying a non-Web license for Quickbooks is also an option we’re willing to consider.
  • We are also familiar with Google docs/spreadsheets, Dropbox, and Evernote.
  • We are looking into a farm-specific CSA management product called Member Assembler by Small Farm Central, but since we aren't CSA-only, I don't think that would suffice. If you have experience with it, though, by all means chime in.
  • We have used Square but their inventory system doesn't allow us to easily track products that are sold by the pound.
Non-exhaustive requirements for the software:
  • OSX *and* iOS or mobile-friendly web interface. Easy, useable phone access is essential.
  • We both need to be able to access the data. We don't mind sharing a login but the data needs to not live on one machine. Cloud preferred; self-hosted is possible.
  • This does *not* need to be the same as our accounting or POS software. Integrations or programs that do everything would be useful, but are not required.
  • We highly prioritize ease of use.
So, what can you recommend?
posted by librarina to Technology (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Since you haven't gotten any bites, I thought I'd give google a shot. There seem to be a number of iphone based inventory systems, some cheap enough you can test drive for next to nothing.
posted by colin_l at 9:44 PM on June 1, 2014

Just pony up for the Quickbooks. The integration with the rest of your accounting system is worth it, especially at the end of the year when you need to calculate the value of your inventory on hand.

IMO stick with the online version of Quickbooks as their hardware is almost certainly more resilient and their backup process is almost certainly better managed than what most small businesses are capable of.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:36 PM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Google Inventory Control, and a bunch of stuff will pop up.

I don't know, but it might make sense if you did RFID/barcode scanning, that way you could type in "whole chicken" and it would tell you, Bin 3-slot 7.

They have these systems for very small businesses, and you might spend about $1,000 initially, it could save you all kinds of time and hassle later on, especially if you decide to grow your business (pun intended).

You might want to add your website to your profile. Some of us are pretty committed to local/humane farming and would want to support you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:37 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks, all. I did search before I posted but didn't come up with anything as promising as colin_l's. It looks like I'll be testing out several different options including Quickbooks. Jacqueline, do you have experience with it?

Ruthless_Bunny, we don't have barcodes on the packages yet but may be doing that soon. Depends on the butcher getting some new equipment. Making use of that for inventory management is a good idea that I hadn't considered. Thanks!

(Oh, and I prefer to keep this profile not explicitly linked to my real name, but my location should be visible in my profile so if you're local to me and interested [or just interested I guess!], shoot me a memail. Thanks for your support R_B!)
posted by librarina at 7:18 PM on June 5, 2014

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