There are plenty of ways to track inventory with various devices. Some of those solutions are fairly costly but work well, and some are cheap but aren't worth the time to install. There are, however, a handful of solutions that are both inexpensive and work well, such as My Inventory.
There are two versions of the My Inventory app: Free and the paid version for $1.95 (USD). The only difference is that the free version has advertisements and doesn't allow you to import from excel spreadsheets.
The My Inventory app allows you to effectively manage your stock with the following features:
- Add products in your inventory with name, type, location, price, quantity, and purchase date
- Search for a product and sort them with these characteristics
- Create several inventories
- Connect with several providers
- Export inventories to .xls
- Auto fill for faster form fill-in
- You can export your products, inventories, and check in-out entries in xml or csv
- Bulk scan your products
- Follow check in-out entries
- Add custom items in the report
What's really nice about this app is that it uses you smartphone scanner to scan barcodes for items. You can also connect to a barcode provider, scan an item, and have the items entries auto-fill.
Let's install this app and start using it!
As with any Android app, the installation is quite simple. Just follow these steps:
- Open the Google App Store
- Search for “my inventory” (no quotes)
- Find the free version (for a test run) and tap its entry
- Tap Install
- Tap Accept
Once the installation completes, you can open the application from either the home screen or the application drawer.
When you first fire up My Inventory, you'll need to install the Barcode Scanner software -- and you'll be prompted for this the first time you try to use the barcode feature of the software. Tap the add barcode item button, and follow the easy instructions for installation (it will take you back to the Google Play Store). Once that is complete, you're ready to go.
One of the first things you'll want to do (especially if you're going to use the barcode scanner feature) is set your provider. Here's how:
- From the main window (Figure A), tap the add barcode button (near the plus sign [+] in the upper right corner)
- Tap the back button on your device (while the bar code scanner is trying to scan)
- Tap the menu button (three horizontal lines in the bottom tool bar)
- Tap Change Provider
- From the Barcode database drop-down, and select a new provider
- Tap Save
You are now ready to start scanning items more quickly.
My Inventory running on a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy S4.
To add an item, you have two options: You can enter everything manually or you can scan the item's barcode. Not every item will be found by the barcode scanner -- but if you're doing bulk scanning, the barcode is the way to go. Let's use the barcode scanner to enter an item. Follow these steps:
- Open My Inventory
- Tap the add barcode item button
- Line the barcode scanner up (Figure B)
- Allow the barcode scanner to focus and read the code (keep the smartphone steady)
The barcode scanner in action.
The scanner will automatically return to the previous window and, once it has downloaded the information from the provider, it will populate the data it has. Not all item entries will populate -- this will depend upon the item and the provider. However, you can manually add all items that are not filled in.
You can create inventories, which are groups of products. Say, for example, you sell multiple sizes and colors of t-shirts. You can create an inventory for t-shirts and then add all of your t-shirt products to that inventory (for easier searching and sorting). To create an inventory, do the following:
- From the main window, tap Inventories
- Tap the plus sign [+] in the upper right-hand corner
- Fill out the information on the resulting screen (Figure C)
- Tap the Save button in the top right corner
Creating a new inventory group.
Now that you've created an inventory group, you can go back to the products that you've created and assign them to a specific group. Here's how:
- From the main window, tap Products
- Select the product you want to add
- Tap the menu button in the bottom toolbar
- Tap Edit
- Select the inventory group from the Inventory drop-down
- Tap the menu button
- Tap Save
That's it! Create as many inventory groups as necessary and assign as many products to them as you need.
You're now ready to start using My Inventory. Although you won't be connecting this app to a Point of Sale (POS) system or financial software, My Inventory is a fine way for a small to medium-sized business (SMB) to keep track of smaller inventories of items. It's not a perfect solution, but it's a solution that's easy to get up to speed, inexpensive, and quick to implement.
What inventory app do you currently use on your smartphone or other mobile device? Share you experience in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.