Problem Definition

In 2018, many small & medium sized businesses (SMBs) maintain their warehouse stock using nothing more than spreadsheets or even paper-based records. I propose a new system, with two key features: NFC tag scanning and writing; advanced stock management features.

Customers apply these NFC ‘stickers’ upon each container, or item. The mobile app then remembers the items assigned to the tag. When an item is used or transported, it is first “checked out” from its current location, and then checked back in when done. An immutable history will be provided, allowing businesses to audit their inventory, and understand who’s using it.

Current systems

Typically, businesses track their inventory with spreadsheets and paper records. The problems of both are obvious: neither are scalable solutions and will quickly become un-maintainable. This issue is exacerbated further when dealing with large amounts of items, or lots of team members.


This is typically where a small business will start tracking inventory. It is flexible in that it allows a small shop to create custom reports/dashboards right in their sheets, and to organise their data however they want, however at larger-scale such as multiple employees, warehouses or specific business needs such as rentals.

Zoho Inventory

Zoho Inventory is a modern web and app based tool for managing physical stock. It is enjoyed by thousands of businesses, however it is geared towards online based shops where consumers purchase items, rather then small-scale retail or rental.

The aforementioned is a product that tries to cater to all businesses, therefore it misses several use cases: * Lack of a mobile app for bar-code scanning * Does not work offline * Can be overwhelming for first-time users and lacks proper documentation on the subject * No access to easy reports without a developer


```mermaid graph LR A(-Start-) --> B[New Transaction] B --> P[Add Items] P --> O[Confirm] O --> L(-Finish-)

C[Add Items] --> E{Finished}

E -- No --> F[Find Product] F --> H[Enter Product SKU]

E -- Yes --> G(-Finish-) ```

Proposed solution

I therefore propose my solution which will work on the failings of the current offerings. Some of the core features I hope to include:

Mobile Scanner

A cross-platform mobile app will allow users to scan products when processing them allowing the business to know where their stock is at any time. The focus of this app is just for scanning.

This improves business efficiency as it allows the pick/pack/ship cycle to be done without returning to a computer for every parcel.

Web Dashboard

The web dashboard will allow administrators to view what is going on at any time. A simple dashboard will show the recent activity of team members, and a dedicated screen for searching and querying the data itself.

The most important thing here is to ensure importing data from external sources (spreadsheets, .csv) or creating lots of items at the same time is easy.

By building this as a progressive web app, it can allow business owners to view their stock levels anywhere, and allow them to work offline too.

QR Codes

The ability to generate a QR code for a specific item/product will make it easier to manage stock with mobile apps. This code can be printed off and then we can then use the mobile app to scan it when moving the items, meaning employees don't have to enter product SKUs to update their inventory.

This will require a computer vision algorithm to read the codes and convert them into product codes.


My system will be able to handle multiple users within an organisation. Each employee will get their own account to use my software for managing items. Every action leaves an immutable audit trail so that admins and other team members know who is in possession of any asset.

By using a database server, multiple people can use the system and aren't bottle-necked by having to use traditional systems. It has the benefit of being the single-source-of-truth for the entire warehouse.


Current systems force you to manage your inventory their way. By using a flexible label system where users create and manage them themselves, we can allow them to organise stuff however they like. This simplification provides benefit compared to current solutions.

A complex labelling scheme is only possible with a computer database, as paper or spreadsheet based labelling would be extremely complex.


The solution I have proposed works in a single sales channel environment, however for an actual product, I would need to have * Integrations with online platforms such as Amazon * Customer relations management for long-term selling

End user cases

My end user will be two types of people: 1. Owners and managers of SMBs who are wanting to manage their inventory as their spreadsheet solution has become un-maintainable 2. Employees of those businesses who are scanning the items themselves.

These users will have wildly different expectations of the software: admins and business owners will want easy access to their data, preferably with beautiful dashboards to display it. They also want an audit trail for legal reasons, and access control to prevent workers from seeing confidential financial data.

These lower-level employees will be focusing more on the mobile app for scanning packages, printing labels and generating an invoices for customers. Their primary use case is knowing where to find specific items quickly.

On a smaller team, these two user cases may be the same people.


success criteria

Open questions

Several questions need to be asked before even starting the production of my service.

  1. What are the most important features for an inventory management service?


Written 2018-07-07 by Cameron Brown SITEMAP