This article is part of a larger series on POS Systems.
The best inventory management software, whether used on its own or with a point-of-sale (POS) system, should make it easy for businesses to track products, tools, and assets. Unlike paid software, free inventory management software usually limits features you can use. We considered plans with enough for a small business or solopreneur to get started, forever-free subscriptions with options to upgrade, and cloud-based, easy-to-use systems.
Based on our evaluations, the best free inventory management software for small businesses are:
- Zoho Inventory: Best overall free inventory management software
- Square: Best for retailers
- ABC Inventory: Best for manufacturing and repair shops
- Boxstorm: Best for QuickBooks and ecommerce integrations
- SalesBinder: Best for small international businesses
- Sortly: Best for on-the-go inventory management for multiple locations
- Stockpile: Best for large simple inventories
- RightControl: Best for service businesses with small inventories
Prefer to use a spreadsheet? Download our free inventory management workbook to track on-hand stock, sales, purchase orders, calculate turnover, and set up low stock alerts.
Best Free Inventory Management Software Compared
Kitting / bundling
Low Stock Alerts
Zoho Inventory: Best Overall Free Inventory Management Software
For its free plan, Zoho Inventory gives you a lot of inventory features that make managing your inventory easier. It provides low stock alerts, kitting and bundling options, and multiple integrations to ecommerce platforms, customer relationship management (CRM) apps, and payment gateways. It also gives you shipping tools, allowing you to print packing slips and generate discounted shipping labels from major logistics providers like USPS and UPS right from your dashboard.
Zoho is our top-rated free inventory software for all small businesses, and its mobile app also makes it the best choice for entrepreneurs who do their work on the go.
Based on our evaluation, Zoho Inventory earned a 4.16 out of 5. Unlike Square, Zoho’s free plan has some limits—such as restricted monthly sales orders, shipping labels, and shipment tracking—and the absence of real-time and multilocation tracking prevented it from getting a higher score. However, overall Zoho offers great value and also earned the top spot in our evaluation of the best paid inventory management software.
Zoho Inventory Features
- Ecommerce integrations with Shopify and Zoho ecommerce
- iOS and Android mobile apps
- Serial and batch tracking
- Receive and make payments for orders and purchases via Stripe
- Item grouping and bundling
- Process returns
- Sales order management
- Add and track customers
- Packaging and shipping
- Add credits to customer accounts and set credit limits
- Track shipments
- Create purchase orders
- Barcode scanning
- Client portal
- Backorders and drop shipments
- Integrates with Shopify, Etsy, eBay, and Amazon
- Purchase order templates
- Mobile app: 4.5 out of 5 on Android; 4.6 out of 5 on iOS
- SKU generator
- Set automated reorder points
When to Upgrade
Zoho Inventory has limits on sales orders, even with its paid plans. If you need to track multiple warehouses, support multiple currencies, and perform custom views for your workflows, then upgrading to its first paid tier will suffice. The base plan starts at $79 a month with a 1,500 monthly order limit, three users, and two warehouses. Additional warehouses cost $10 per month, and additional users are priced at $3 per month. Higher tiers include batch and serial number tracking and automated workflows.
Square: Best for Retailers & Storefronts
Square is best known for its POS capabilities for retailers and restaurants, landing it at the top of our lists of the best POS systems and leading free POS systems. For every POS account, however, you also get access to all of Square’s inventory management tools completely for free for one location. Considering all that Square accounts come equipped with—in-store sales, ecommerce integrations, mobile capabilities, POS—it is the best all-in-one solution for retailers looking to manage inventory for free and sell in-store and online, as well as via invoice and mobile.
Did you know? For every Square account, you will also get access to Square Online, Square’s ecommerce website builder that you can then integrate seamlessly with your Square account.
This software earned an overall score of 4.12 out of 5 on our evaluation, just below Zoho, which has more features for inventory management itself. Square, however, earned excellent scores for ease of use, pricing, and our expert value score. The only things that kept Square from scoring higher were the lack of kitting abilities, multiple-location inventory, and sales tracking; limited customer service hours; and reporting, vendor management, and purchase orders locked behind a paywall. Like Zoho, Square has an excellent mobile app, where you can conduct sales and also scan items and perform inventory counts.
Square Inventory Features
- Create product or item categories
- Create automated low stock alerts
- Add pictures, descriptions, and SKU numbers to each item
- Download reports or export to a printable spreadsheet
- Add and track item modifiers like colors and sizes
- Unlimited products, users, and transactions
- Import and manage products in bulk
- Mobile app: 4.4 out of 5 on Android; 4.8 out of 5 on iOS
- Sell on the go with Square’s mobile app
- Scan inventory barcodes and perform counts with Square mobile app
- Create product variants like size and color
- Fully integrated payment processing
- Process returns
- Create and track customer profiles
When to Upgrade
The free version of Square doesn’t include advanced inventory tools like kitting, automatic purchase orders, COGS tracking, or smart stock forecasts. For these features, you’ll need to upgrade to Square for Retail for $60 per month per location. Read our full Square POS review to find out why it’s the best free inventory management software for retailers. However, it can integrate with other inventory software if you prefer.
Ready to get started? Check out our how-to guide to learn how to manage inventory using Square.
ABC Inventory: Best for Repair Shops & Manufacturing
Although a locally installed system with an older interface, ABC Inventory by Almyta Systems offers an excellent choice for budget-conscious manufacturers or repair shops with simple needs. It has features like unlimited custom fields, 10 custom dropdown lists for extra properties, and up to 20 levels in its bill of materials.
As an open-source software, ABC Inventory requires some expertise to code and use to your liking, but it also gives you a lot of flexibility in creating an inventory system. Not only that, ABC Inventory offers dozens of features specifically for manufacturing inventory like work orders, approvals, repair and maintenance orders, and special serials for manufacturing or engineering. Neither Zoho or Square come equipped with these manufacturing-specific tools.
In our evaluation, ABC Inventory earned 3.27 out of 5. Though it earned points for being able to track unlimited products by location, the dated interface and slow download speed make ABC Inventory hard to use. Plus, there’s no customer support available outside of a community forum. The software can only be installed on PCs and cannot automatically integrate with any other programs. If you need an option with more included integrations, Square is going to be your best bet.
ABC Inventory Features
- Unlimited companies, warehouses, locations, currencies, logos
- Multiple languages with translations (popup or in-field)
- Export data to Microsoft Excel, Word, HTML, and text
- Purchase orders
- Warehouse appointments, invoicing, shipping
- Positive/negative adjustments
- Barcode scanning
- Inventory repairs
- Inventory leasing
- Fast browse and advanced search
- Create sales and shipping orders
- Work orders
- Tangible and intangible asset management
- Create and manage warehouse appointments
- Port to port operations
- Manage repairs and leases
- Create and manage work orders
When to Upgrade
ABC Inventory’s free version comes with every tool, making it a great option for a small business with a single workplace. However, you need the paid version if you want to use the software across multiple workstations. You will also need to purchase one of Almyta Systems’ licenses if you want customer support of any kind. Purchased licenses also include free add-ons and lifetime updates.
Boxstorm: Best for Custom Tracking
Created by Fishbowl Inventory, Boxstorm delivers a feature-rich and user-friendly inventory management system with a standout feature of tracking items based on custom characteristics, including expiration date, lot, serial number, and more—a great tool for items with a shelf life.
Boxstorm earned an overall score of 3.19 out of 5 on our inventory management ranking system. It earned solid scores for its inventory features—such as barcoding, cycle counting, and automated reordering—but its limits on transaction and inventory items prevented it from scoring higher. It doesn’t have as in-depth a CRM manager as Zoho, although it has stronger vendor management features than Square’s free version.
- Barcode scanning and generation (including with mobile app)
- Process returns
- Up to five photos per item
- Track items by up to five custom fields (expiration, stock, serial number, etc.)
- Scan items and apply action to an entire list (ex: location change)
- Automate reordering at set stock levels
- Create sales, work/service, and purchase orders
- Native integrations with QuickBooks Online, Shopify, BigCommerce, Stripe, and Shippo
- Set min/max stock levels
- Mobile app: 3.4 out of 5 on Android; 3.2 out of 5 on iOS
- Receive low stock alerts via email and text
- Move/transfer items between locations
- Perform cycle counts
- Create item categories
- Vendor management
- Granular forecasting
When to Upgrade
Boxstorm’s free plan contains all the features of the paid plan, so you only need to upgrade when you need to handle more transactions or items. The paid option offers unlimited locations, items, and transactions for $79 per month for one user. If you need more users, you can add them for $9 per month.
SalesBinder: Best for Small International Businesses
While we have several inventory managers made outside the US on our list, SalesBinder offers excellent inventory software that works in over 130 countries and a wide array of currencies. Its intuitive interface also includes lots of room for customization so you can make it work how you need it to, wherever you are in the world.
SalesBinder’s free plan does not allow integrations. However, it has robust features for recording and tracking inventory and strong sales and CRM features. Its free plan also limits monthly records, which it counts as inventory items, accounts, or orders—no other inventory tracker on our list sets limits this way. Paid plans, however, start at a mere $9 monthly (the cheapest apart from RightControl), making SalesBinder a great pick for small businesses with limited customers and inventory or those that are just starting out.
Overall, SalesBinder scored a 3.1 out of 5 in our evaluation. It performed well in the inventory features and expert score categories. SalesBinder could’ve scored better if it had no product or user limits and allowed integrations in its free plan.
- Real-time inventory tracking by location
- Barcode generation and scanning
- Five photos per item description
- Reports (additional fee for profit analysis)
- Unlimited locations
- API access
- Custom fields
- Place sales orders
- Item variations
- Inventory and sales reports
- Place purchase order
- Vendor management
- Stock transfers
- Create packing lists
- Shipment tracking
- iOS Mobile app: 2.3 out of 5 in the app store
- Set user permissions
- Create and manage prospective customers
When to Upgrade
SalesBinder’s free plan includes all the features of the paid plans, except for integrations and limits to records and users—if you need more, the paid plans are among the most affordable we’ve seen. The paid plans range from $9 per month for one user, 2,500 records, and no integrations, to $99 per month for 100,000 records, 50 users, and unlimited integrations.
Sortly: Best for On-the-Go Inventory Management for Multiple Locations
Sortly is a cloud-based inventory management platform that provides activity tracking, multilocation tracking, barcoding, and audit trails. Its noteworthy feature, though, is its built-in barcode and QR scanner mobile app that works even in offline mode. You can scan incoming and outgoing inventory even when your phone app doesn’t have a signal—Sortly will automatically sync as soon as you’re back online. Its offline abilities paired with its multilocation tracking makes Sortly ideal for on-the-go inventory management across multiple locations. (Note: Zoho also has an offline mode to its mobile app, but Sortly offers inventory for multiple locations.)
On our inventory management evaluation, Sortly scored a 2.76 out of 5. The absence of low-stock alerts and integrations on its free plan, as well as its item limits, prevented it from earning high scores. Like RightControl, it lacks integrations. However, its interface is cloud-based and modern, setting it apart from RightControl and ABC Inventory.
Keep an eye out. Sortly is to add a host of integrations in the coming months, which will make it a much more competitive option.
- Desktop and mobile app access
- Add custom tags and notes
- In-app scanner
- File items into categorical folders
- Barcode auto lookup
- Bulk editing details
- Scan and connect third-party barcodes
- Basic CSV and PDF reports
- Quick action scanner (check in/out items)
- Support: help center, tutorials, and weekly onboarding seminars
- Add custom fields (limited to one)
- Mobile app: 3.6 out of 5 on Android; 4.7 out of 5 on iOS
- Attach up to eight photos per item
When to Upgrade
Sortly provides in-depth access to its barcode scanning system even on its free plan. However, upgrading to its Ultra plan ($99/month) will allow you to have API integrations, generate custom barcodes, and use external/handheld scanners. The less expensive Advanced Plan ($49/month) has low-stock alerts and more entries and custom fields. For already established businesses with existing systems and software, I would recommend signing up for one of Sortly’s paid plans.
Stockpile: Best for Large Simple Inventories
Canvus’s Stockpile inventory system is the only software on our list without a paid plan. It’s a pure inventory system, not tied to any industry, like Square is with retail. Thus, we recommend it for businesses with a lot of simple inventory that don’t need the sales arm. However, if you need kitting or bundling, consider Zoho.
This software earned 2.49 out of 5 based on our evaluation. While it allows unlimited products, users, locations, and more, the actual functions are limited to very simple inventory management. You can’t program variations, make purchase orders, or create bundles—the primary function is tracking items in multiple locations. If you are looking for a more feature-rich option, consider SalesBinder or Boxstorm. Stockpile also lost some points for its limited customer support (Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time).
- Set user permissions/levels: base, manager, owner
- Track SKUs and UPCs, location, area, and manufacturer
- Add images
- Set and receive low stock alerts
- Works with multiple currencies
- View inventory and transaction reports
- Support Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time; limited weekend support
- Mobile app: 1 out of 5 on Android; none for iOS
When to Upgrade
Stockpile does not have a paid upgrade. If you think your business may outgrow Stockpile’s features, we recommend choosing a system that can grow with your business, like Zoho Inventory or Square.
RightControl: Best for Service Industries With Small Inventories
RightControl offers a lite version of its paid inventory management software that tracks stock levels, processes new sales and purchase orders, and creates invoices for billing. It also has shipping and warehouse management features. However, because the free plan allows only 10 items but has the best CRM system of those on our list, we recommend it for service industries that need to track only a few items.
In our evaluation, RightControl scored a 2.34 out of 5, primarily because of its 10-product and single-warehouse limits. Like ABC Inventory, it’s only available on desktop, has no mobile app, and does not integrate with other software. Its inventory features are pretty basic, but it does include purchase order management and provides a sales dispatch link to the customer. These features earned the system a place on our list.
RightControl was designed in the UK, so some of the terms are different from US-only versions, like Square’s, or those with separate US/UK versions, like Zoho’s.
- Kit assembly
- Contact management
- Barcode scanning, design, and generation
- Returns management
- CRM includes contact, payment history, credit limits, notes
- Purchase and sales order management
When to Upgrade
All features are the same through RightControl’s subscription plans. The only drawback with RightControl’s free plan is its product limit of 10 items. If you will need to add additional products, you can upgrade to its paid plan where you can have up to 300 items.
How We Evaluated Free Inventory Management Software
We only considered forever-free inventory systems that also offer paid versions or add-ons at a price suited for SMBs. In this evaluation, we prioritized those that are cloud-based and easy to use. We sought a range of inventory management software, not just those in a POS system or that work for retail.
Click through the tabs below for a more detailed breakdown of our evaluation criteria.
40% of Overall Score
We prioritized software that includes pricing plans and add-on options to grow with your business. We also awarded points to systems that provide an unlimited number of users and inventory items in their free plans. Square had the highest score in this category followed by Zoho.
30% of Overall Score
We gave heavier weight to inventory features, such as real-time tracking, low stock and reorder alerts, multilocation and warehouse tracking, mobile apps, and granular inventory management (kitting and assembly, variants, etc.). We also considered whether they provide purchase orders, vendor, and centralized multichannel management. Finally, we examined whether each system has CRM functionality or integrates with popular CRM software. Zoho took the lead here, followed by SalesBinder and Boxstorm.
15% of Overall Score
We reviewed the overall quality of each system’s features—including if there are any standout qualities—and whether or not it offers a good value for its price point. Finally, we accounted for our personal experience using each system and interacting with its customer service representatives, its reviews, and the personal experience of other small business owners. Zoho took top billing.
15% of Overall Score
We gave full points to platforms that are cloud-based, offer 24/7 customer support, and provide online training, forum, or help documentation. We also considered its integrations with popular accounting, ecommerce, marketplace, and POS software. Square and Zoho tied for first here.
When deciding which free inventory management platform to use, consider asking yourself the following:
- Does it integrate with the platforms I currently use in my business?
- Does it offer room for growth such as plan upgrades?
- What type of support can I get as a free user?
If you are looking for free inventory management tools that work with sales, such as for a retail or storefront business, consider point-of-sale software (such as Square). Most include primary inventory functions or have integrations. However, standalone free inventory management software works well for offices, warehouses, dropshippers, or stores that already have sales platforms that they prefer.
While inventory management greatly depends on the variety of products and the needs of a business, we found Zoho Inventory to offer the best solution for most small businesses. The inventory app contains nearly every function that you need for inventory processing, plus the ability to integrate with other software—particularly those made by Zoho. Visit Zoho to create a free account.