Is Inventory Tracking Software for You?

By Cathleen McCarthy

Whether you hope to sell your jewelry to national chains, local boutiques or friends of friends, inventory-tracking software can help you stay organized and grow your jewelry-making business. It's not for everybody, but it might be worth a try. Even the most basic version can help you keep track of parts, price your work effectively, and pay your business taxes.

• PC or Mac? Two affordable inventory-tracking systems designed specifically for jewelry are Jewelry Designer Manager (JDM) and Bead Manager Pro. Bead Manager Pro is Mac-compatible. Jennifer of the Etsy shop StudioSeventyFive used Bead Manager Pro for a while. "I really liked it," she says. "But then I started experiencing problems with my computer and went back to doing inventory the old-fashioned way."

Jewelry Designer Manager (JDM) is Windows-based so works best on a PC, but Laurie Wetterschneider of Laurie and Lisa Designs stuck with it even after she switched from PC to Mac a few years ago, partly because the customer service is "so spectacular." She installed VMware ($49) on her MacBook, which allows her to run JDM in its own window.

• Volume. Are you making a piece a month or aiming at department stores? Carleton offers three versions of JDM, starting with the $129 standard version. "I recommend standard for somebody in the hobby stage or selling to a small number of people, but who wants to keep track of parts," she says. "The deluxe version costs $259 and is definitely for somebody selling on consignment, who wants to print tags, link to Quikbooks, have all the reports and the bells and whistles to make them look really professional."

For all versions, she provides a year of text support for free. After that, it costs an optional $30 per year.

• Necessary? How important inventory control is to you depends to some degree on how big you plan to grow. Barbara Carleton developed JDM software when she started her own jewelry business with hopes of selling her jewelry to Neiman Marcus one day. Laurie Wetterschneider, who swears by it, was doing more than a quarter million in sales at one point, but says it helped even when she and her sister had a tiny startup. "I think that software is the best investment we ever made," she says.

By contrast, Jennifer of StudioSeventyFive decided tracking software wasn't for her. "I now keep track of everything by hand, and have every bead marked with its price," she says. "I don't find it too difficult pricing my pieces and keeping track of inventory because I am a very small operation. "

Using tracking software taught her the value of staying organized. "I label everything and keep it neatly stowed in my newly purchased bead organizer desk. Everything from chain to findings has its own drawer," she says. "My beads are separated by color."

"It's really easy to price my pieces now, because everything is so neatly labeled. Inventory takes a bit longer – maybe a few days of counting everything. But that's okay. As an artist I enjoy looking, at touching and sorting all of my beads, and not spending time entering everything into the computer."

CATHLEEN McCARTHY is a freelance writer whose stories appear in Town & Country, AmericanStyle, Art & Antiques, and her own site, The Jewelry Loupe. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

NET PROFITS is a regular feature of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist about using the Internet for jewelry selling of special interest to those with a home-based jewelry business. Learn more about inventory-tracking software in "Track Your Inventory," March 2013, Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.

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