If you run a direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand, then you know just how important inventory planning is. And without a doubt, the best way to plan your inventory is with the help of trusted software.
DTC companies often rely on the retail planning software Inventory Planner by Sage. Although Inventory Planner has become fairly popular among Shopify sellers specifically, that doesn’t mean it’s the best planning software available today. (For most brands, it’s not.)
So, which Inventory Planner alternatives would better fit your DTC brand? We’ve done the legwork to help you figure it out.
Inventory Planner by Sage is sales forecasting and inventory planning software for ecommerce and multichannel retailers. As the definition suggests, brands can use this software to predict future sales and determine what, when, and how much inventory they need to purchase to meet customer demand.
Inventory Planner also integrates with popular sales channels and marketplaces like Shopify, Amazon, and eBay (among others). With these integrations, all your multichannel data funnels into Inventory Planner so you can make better inventory purchasing decisions and steer clear of overstock or stockouts.
Like most software, Inventory Planner has its share of advantages and disadvantages.
Anyone with an Inventory Planner account can expect handy features like multi-location support and inventory reporting features as well as drawbacks like a lack of demand planning capabilities and unreliable replenishment recommendations.
One of the best tools Inventory Planner offers is multi-location support.
Like Cogsy, Inventory Planner tracks all your inventory across all your warehouses using historical sales data and current inventory levels. Using this information, the tools can help you fulfill future demand by stocking the right inventory at each location.
Inventory Planner also offers different forecasting methods for year-round and seasonal products. Meaning, you can adjust your forecasts to account for demand fluctuations like during the holidays and flash sales.
This adaptability protects the accuracy of your forecasts, so you have the right products in stock no matter the time or year or what promotions you’re running.
Along with multi-location support, Inventory Planner also gives you full visibility into your inventory performance. That’s because you get full control of the data you need.
You can run reports by product category, variant, assembly, or by your specific vendor or warehouse. In short, these detailed reports give you vital insights to make more informed inventory decisions.
Inventory Planner has more than 200 metrics, so you can generate reports tailored to your unique business goals.
That said, more isn’t always better (meaning this isn’t always a pro). Choosing from hundreds of metrics can overwhelm retailers because they’re not sure which ones are best.
On the other hand, having fewer (more impactful) metrics can help brands avoid analysis paralysis and make a more confident and targeted choice.
Inventory Planner offers 30+ integrations that can connect your brand to:
With these integrations, your must-have retail tools can better communicate with one another. For example, these integrations automatically feed all your sales orders and product information into the Inventory Planner database.
This data then directly informs the demand forecasting (and purchasing recommendations) Inventory Planner makes for your brand.
Along those same lines, these native software integrations do a lot of heavy lifting to support communication and collaboration for your online store (but more on that in a minute).
Even though Inventory Planner is pretty skilled with forecasting, it doesn’t do much about demand planning. But let’s break that statement down a bit further.
What a brand hopes to do in terms of growth and revenue over the next 12 months is never exactly what it did the year prior. Retailers will have new growth targets, plans for marketing, and, with ongoing supply chain issues, a need to finalize production plans well in advance.
So, while Inventory Planner forecasting can give you an idea of your inventory needs over the next 60/90/120 days, that’s not the full picture you’ll need for long-term planning.
🔥 Tip: Today, most supply chains take 3-4 months to fulfill your purchase orders, so you would need to have placed orders yesterday for them to arrive in 90-120 days.
Aside from that, you’ll still need help with your growth plan, marketing initiatives, and production planning to meet your growth goals.
Unfortunately, Inventory Planner isn’t equipped with these sorts of features. So, it can’t meet retailers’ needs for demand planning, supply chain planning, and so on.
Inventory Planner’s replenishment recommendations are a double-edged sword. While some retailers have good luck with these recommendations, that’s not the case across the board.
The reality is, Inventory Planner’s replenishment recommendations aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. In fact, many businesses have trouble trusting these recommendations because they have a track record of being inaccurate.
For example, 1 Inventory Planner customer noted that “the replenishment recommendations [Inventory Planner] provided were inflated/simply wrong.”
This same small business added: “We were looking for a tool to provide a data-based recommendation on which components to purchase. We did not realize any benefit as the recommendations it provided were wrong. Invested hundreds of hours setting it up and trying to validate the recommendation to no avail. Frustrating experience overall.”
Meaning, in some cases, the software suggested the wrong SKUs to replenish. In other cases, merchants received incorrect info on overstocked items.
Regardless of the situation, brands had to double (sometimes triple) check the Inventory Planner data before creating and issuing their POs.
But constantly rechecking your data negates many of the feature’s great benefits. Not only is triple checking your data a waste of time, but it can delay your inventory orders since it takes longer to submit a PO (this puts you at a higher risk of stockout in the interim).
Lastly, the biggest turn-off with Inventory Planner is that you’re required to sign up for a 12-month contract right off the bat. And then, you have to pay more and more based on the number of users and usage.
For example, the base plan for Inventory Planner is $119.99 per month. This rate includes your first enabled warehouse and 1,000 replenishable variants or SKUs.
From that starting point, the price goes up $80 for each additional “enabled warehouse” — essentially, any warehouse where you’ll need replenishment planning and reporting.
Inventory Planner also charges an additional $15 per 1,000 replenishable variants or SKUs beyond the first 1,000.
If that wasn’t enough, merchants have to pay for onboarding (via a 3rd-party provider) and cover the cost for any support tiers they might need. After it’s all said and done, Inventory Planner can easily cost your brand $10,000+ annually.
To give you an idea of how steep this pricing is, Cogsy starts at just $49 per month and tiers by how much revenue your brand generates. Meaning, Cogsy only makes more money if you make money. Period.
As you can see, when it comes to Inventory Planner, there are lots of highs and lows. But for many retailers, the negatives are reason enough to look elsewhere for an inventory planning partner.
When choosing alternative software, focus on a few key factors: available features, integrations, and pricing structure.
As you’re weighing all your different options, it’s a good idea to measure each software’s features against your business-specific needs. Ask yourself: What do you need to operate your retail brand day-to-day? Use your answer to look for software with features that speak to those needs directly.
For instance, if you need help creating POs to send to your suppliers, you can find an inventory planning software that automates this process for you. Or, if you have seasonal spikes in demand, you’ll want a system with reporting and inventory analytics features to help you adapt to these fluctuations.
Advanced reporting features can also clarify what your brand needs to do next by making sense of all your data. While few systems actually do this, Cogsy does so with ease.
Whenever Cogsy finds valuable insights within your data, it links those insights to a related action for your team. For instance, making restock recommendations that match your demand levels to a T. That way, you have the clarity to make smarter operational decisions faster.
Circling back to integrations. This is another key feature that makes a great inventory planning software.
As we mentioned earlier, integrations help your most important retail tools communicate and collaborate – creating a sort of single source of truth for your brand. This single source provides a holistic view of your sales data and how your products move.
Ideally, your inventory planning software would integrate with the tools you already use (that way, your planning process syncs up with the rest of your operations). When your existing tools work together with your planning software, you can create more accurate demand forecasts and inventory replenishment strategies.
So, when shopping for software, look for integrations with the inventory management, fulfillment, analytics, and multichannel logistics tools you already rely on. Using all these tools in conjunction with inventory planning will build seamless operations that’ll spur your brand’s growth and profitability.
We already named Inventory Planner’s pricing as one of its cons, so it seems fitting to drive home the importance of pricing here.
Price influences just about every aspect of your retail operations, from the suppliers you choose to the warehouses you partner with (and everything in between). So, it’s no surprise that price also comes into play when selecting inventory software.
🔥 Tip: Pricing also impacts your brand’s profit margins. The more you spend on operations, the less profit you’ll pocket.
The issue of pricing can get a little tricky, though, since different software creators follow different pricing models. While some platforms charge by the number of users on your account, others charge a flat monthly rate. (Some will even tack on extra charges for specific advanced features.)
That’s why you’ll have to do your due diligence on this one. You’ll need to read the fine print and figure out what you might pay to ensure it aligns with your budget.
With that said, you can expect monthly prices to range from $49 (for Cogsy’s starting tier) to… well, a lot. NetSuite, for instance, starts at $499 a month.
The wide range of these numbers clearly shows why you want to verify pricing before you hop on a demo or commit to a tool.
Feeling overwhelmed by all your choices for planning software? Totally understandable!
That’s why we’ve done the heavy lifting for you when it comes to researching your options. We’ve made a list of the top 9 alternatives to Inventory Planner so you can compare features, pricing, and more at a glance.
|Cogsy||Best overall||Real-time inventory management, demand planning, restock recommendations, integrations||Starts at $49/month|
|Katana||Best for tracking warehouse operations||Inventory management, master planning, contract manufacturing, integrations||Starts at $99/month|
|RELEX Solutions||Best for consumer brands||Demand planning, merchandising, retail operations, supply chain collaboration||Contact for a quote|
|GMDH Streamline||Best for a limited budget||Demand forecasting, inventory and replenishment planning, reporting||Basic plan for free; Contact for a quote|
|Luminate||Best for category management||Demand planning, inventory optimization, allocation, replenishment||Contact for a quote|
|Kinaxis||Best for supply chain management||Supply chain planning, artificial intelligence, advanced analytics||Contact for a quote|
|Logility||Best for small to midsize businesses||Inventory analytics, automated inventory changes, replenishment planning||Contact for a quote|
|NetSuite||Best for scaling businesses||Inventory tracking, inventory visibility, automated inventory management||Starts at $499/month|
|ShipHero||Best for streamlining shipping operations||Order tracking, reorder level setting, cycle counting, multi-carrier integration||Contact for a quote|
Cogsy is the go-to inventory planning software for Shopify merchants and Amazon sellers. Not only does Cogsy transform how you meet customer demand, but it helps you place orders faster, reduces stockouts, and minimizes inventory waste at your warehouses.
With Cogsy, get a godlike view of your stock levels, restock needs, incoming purchase orders, and upcoming marketing events in real-time. All in 1 place.
Plus, create operational plans with pinpoint accuracy (up to 12 months out), so you can stock up accordingly.
You can even run “what-if” scenarios to identify your best-case, worst-case, and most profitable inventory strategies. Cogsy will then automatically update your demand plans as new data becomes available.
These small recalibrations radically increase the accuracy of your forecasts and restock recommendations over time. That way, you avoid expensive inventory purchasing mistakes (like stockouts and overstock) that keep you from reaching your revenue goals.
Our proof? After popular cookware brand Caraway teamed up with Cogsy, they generated 40% more revenue and saved 20+ hours per week on inventory management.
Key features: Real-time inventory management, demand planning, Shopify purchase order tracking, restock recommendations, integrations
Pricing: starting at $49 per month
👉 Don’t just take our word for it – try Cogsy free for 14 days.
Katana has everything you need to simplify your warehousing and manufacturing.
This material requirements planning (MRP) tool gives you complete control over your in-house and outsourced production. With it, you can track inventory in real-time and automate product allocation for easy order fulfillment.
Katana also tracks demand and adjusts your production schedules to ensure they align with your manufacturing operations. This approach not only delivers maximum efficiency but it helps retailers centralize their logistics and maintain end-to-end traceability.
Plus, Katana integrates with tons of different accounting, reporting, and CRM tools. It’ll even create custom API integrations to connect beyond what they already have listed.
Key features: Inventory management, master planning, contract manufacturing, integrations
Pricing: Starting at $99 per month
RELEX Solutions is a retail planning platform for larger consumer brands.
Its machine learning automatically looks at hundreds of demand drivers to create accurate inventory forecasts. Retailers can then use these forecasts to improve their merchandising, supply chain, and operations planning processes.
Like Cogsy, the tool accounts for demand forecasting challenges, including new product introductions, price changes, promotions, seasons, product cannibalization, and slow movers. That way, you can hold less inventory (without stocking out) and sell more.
Key features: Demand planning, merchandising, retail operations, supply chain collaboration
Pricing: Contact RELEX Solutions for current pricing structures
GMDH Streamline specializes in supply chain planning and predictive analytics. More specifically, their software offers transparency across the end-to-end supply chain.
GMDH Streamline users can combine demand forecasting with inventory planning, making navigating the demand planning process easier.
Unlike most tools, GMDH Streamline can generate forecasts on your sales numbers alone. But if you go this route, keep in mind your projections will be highly inaccurate since there’s so much data missing (which is needed to make accurate predictions).
By integrating your inventory data, the tool can not only provide more accurate forecasts, but can also assemble a just-in-time purchase plan to streamline the reordering process.
Key features: Demand forecasting, inventory, and replenishment planning, reporting
Pricing: Contact GMDH Streamline for current pricing structures
Luminate (by Blue Yonder Supply Planning) gives users real-time insights into demand patterns and buyer behaviors. Retailers can use these insights to make accurate plans for sourcing raw materials and finished goods.
On top of that, Luminate comes with fulfillment feature maps to highlight all your supply-and-demand curves. Your brand can use these maps to guide replenishment orders and ensure you restock at the right time to reach optimal stock levels (and maximize your cash flow).
Luminate also has built-in tools for category management, supply chain management, and predictive scenario planning, giving you complete control over your inventory levels.
Key features: Demand planning, inventory optimization, allocation, replenishment
Pricing: Contact Luminate for current pricing
Using Kinaxis, retailers can close the gap between supply chain planning and execution by connecting all their internal and external data sources (including multiple ERPs). The platform then leverages AI and machine learning to automate routine tasks and personalize the user experience.
Meaning, Kinaxis lets you tailor your data to create personalized workflows and alerts. The result? You can recognize (and resolve) supply chain issues much faster.
Key features: Supply chain planning, artificial intelligence, advanced analytics
Pricing: Contact Kinaxis for current pricing
Logility’s management software is geared toward inventory optimization. This platform helps small- and mid-sized businesses increase their revenue, respond to changes in demand, and manage any number of complex forecasting processes.
Like other planning tools, Logility leverages advanced analytics to automate inventory planning, increase inventory accuracy, and provide visibility into all your product movement.
Key features: Inventory analytics, automated inventory changes, replenishment planning
Pricing: Contact Logility for current pricing
NetSuite is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that helps businesses scale their operations more easily and efficiently.
The tool primarily focuses on inventory management, giving brands a real-time view of their inventory levels across all their sales channels. This visibility serves as an integral part of inventory and demand planning.
In addition, NetSuite is part of a fully integrated system of finance, human resources, and professional services tools. Thanks to all these connections, brands can reduce their inventory costs, improve the customer experience, and sustainably grow their business.
Key features: Inventory tracking, inventory visibility, automated inventory management
Pricing: Starting at $499 per month
ShipHero’s warehouse management system simplifies everything to do with picking, packing, and shipping your products. This software offers 1-click integrations with Shopify, Returnly, and more — making it easier than ever to manage orders and returns.
ShipHero users can benefit from order tracking and shipment notifications, as well as automation rules like smart warehouse routing and shipping method mapping. And because ShipHero is in constant communication with your sales channels, you have more control over order allocation, replenishment level setting, and PO creation.
🔥 Tip: Cogsy integrates with ShipHero to give you a more comprehensive approach to forecasting, planning, and shipping your inventory. Learn more.
Key features: Order tracking, reorder level setting, cycle counting, multi-carrier integration
Pricing: Contact ShipHero for current pricing
If you use the Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN), demand forecasting is built into the app. Keep in mind, however, that the SFN requires you to input and review your demand every week (based on your sales history and upcoming promotions). So, while forecasting is available via Shopify, it’s less intuitive and more time-consuming than other platforms.
Most of the time, ecommerce stores plan their inventory using inventory management or inventory planning software. These systems automate and streamline the planning process by keeping track of your inventory levels, forecasting future demand, and creating customized purchase orders to suit your inventory needs.
Cogsy is hands down the best inventory planner for Shopify merchants. Not only does Cogsy transform how you meet demand, but it helps you place orders faster, reduces stockouts, and minimizes the excess stock at your warehouse. What’s more, Cogsy monitors your stock levels 24/7, so you always know how much inventory you have available (and when it’s time to restock).