by Jenna Bunnell

The Key to Developing an Efficient Restaurant Inventory Management System

It’s complicated and time-consuming to track your restaurant inventory with spreadsheets. A restaurant inventory management system automates these manual processes and boosts your efficiency. It’s the same as how call center software boosts call center operational efficiency.

Restaurant Inventory Management System

This post will explore the restaurant inventory management system, why you need one, and how to develop a system that suits your needs.

What Is a Restaurant Inventory Management System and Why Do You Need One?

A restaurant inventory management system is a software tool that helps restaurants manage their food stock. Unlike spreadsheets, this software tracks inventory levels and purchase orders automatically. An inventory management system has many benefits, including:

  • Reduce stock shrinkage and overstocking: with detailed analytics and forecasting your orders can be made in line with seasonal changes to your business. For example, if you know that the Christmas period is going to be busy, you can easily compare average usage to ensure that you have the additional stock in place. On the other hand, if you know the month of January tends to be much quieter, you can alter your orders to reflect this and avoid overstocking.
  • Increase profit margins and control costs: an inventory management system will provide you with detailed financial reporting so you can better price your menu in line with your costs. You can also identify exactly which menu items are losers and make changes to save you money.
  • Save time and reduce human error: many repetitive tasks such as placing orders and generating bills can be automated, saving you valuable time and reducing the possibility of human error.
  • Generate accurate bills and POs with one click: gone are the days of manually placing orders and generating bills. With an inventory management system much of this process can be automated to increase efficiency and accuracy.
  • Reduce food waste: Through improved forecasting and inventory management you can more accurately predict the quantity of ingredients you will need. You can also set alerts to keep track of expiry dates, helping to ensure that less food goes to waste.
  • Accurately track allergen and nutritional information: in order to answer questions from your customers and provide accurate information on your menus you need to be fully informed of all allergen and nutritional information. An inventory management system will help you keep detailed records of all your dishes and the ingredients they contain.

What Features Should a Restaurant Inventory Management System have?

The features you choose for your inventory management system depend on what you want to do with it. But there are a few must-have features, such as:

  • Update inventory ingredients and menu items. Add ingredients and menu items and update quantities with barcode scanning.
  • Recipes. Create recipes from existing inventory along with accurate pricing.
  • Notifications. Get real-time alerts of low stock levels and supplier price rises.
  • Vendor management. Manage vendors, track credits, create POs and receipts, and send them electronically.
  • Analytics and reports. Track analytics like stock levels, sales, procurement, and profitability.
  • Integrations. Integrate with business software like your employee management system, POS system, or payment software.

Restaurant Inventory Management System
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The Pros and Cons of Building Your Own System

The best way to ensure your restaurant management system meets your needs is to build one yourself. But before you launch into the world of software development, let’s look at the pros and cons of this approach.


  • Only pay for features you need
  • Scale the software as your business grows
  • Control your data at all times
  • Don’t buy extra hardware or software
  • Don’t pay monthly fees


  • Development takes time
  • Custom software can be expensive to build

How to Choose a Ready-Made System

If you decide to buy a ready-made system, there are a few questions you should ask:

  • How large is your business? One small restaurant has less complex needs than a large restaurant chain.
  • Do you have other software like a POS system? If you do, your inventory management system should integrate with it.
  • What features does it have? Will you use them?
  • How much does it cost? Only pay for features you’ll use.
  • Is it cloud-based or on-premises? Cloud-based systems are ideal for managing inventory from several devices or locations.

The Takeaway

Managing your inventory is an essential part of running a restaurant. A restaurant inventory management system can help you optimize stock levels and reduce costs.

To develop an efficient inventory management system, you can either build your own or buy ready-made software. In either case, you need to look at your business needs and decide what’s best for you.


Jenna BunnellBio:

Jenna Bunnell – Senior Manager, Content Marketing, Dialpad
Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad. Dialpad Cloud Phone Service provides valuable call details and the best team communication tools for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways. Jenna has written for other domains such as MacSecurity and CEO Blog Nation. Here is her LinkedIn.

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