Manual inventory systems are thought to be a way of the past. The normal "bean counting" performed by small businesses to keep tabs on inventory has given way to the automated world of bar codes and scanners. Even with all this technology, manual inventory systems still hold key advantages over computer-based counterparts.
Automated inventory systems are prone to glitches and errors just like any other piece of electronic equipment or software. A manual inventory system allows business owners and employees to physically verify that inventory is available. This removes the potential for data entry errors, which can lead to disappointed customers. Manual verification of inventory can also allow employees an opportunity to physically inspect the product and ensure each item is suitable for sale. The only thing worse than a disappointed customer is an angry one who was sold a defective product.
The hardware and software purchases required for an automated inventory system can be cost prohibitive for a small business. A manual inventory system can cost as little as a sheet of paper and a pencil. Manually accounting for inventory also saves time, since a business owner doesn't have to scan items into an automated system so they can be read and deducted from a computerized inventory when sold. Saving time also saves money.
A manual inventory system is impervious to power failures that take down automated inventory systems. A business owner is able to account for his inventory even if a tree takes out a nearby transformer, cutting the power to the entire block. Manual inventory systems are also more difficult to tamper with because the items are physically counted. An automated system can be tampered with to artificially reduce inventory to enable theft.