With the rise of omnichannel shopping, meeting customer expectations has become more complex and less predictable at times. For instance, consumers in 2023 are accustomed to fast, accurate orders and complete transparency in the fulfillment process. To compete in the fast-paced e-commerce landscape and improve profitability, retailers must adopt a unified approach to inventory management. Here’s a look at what that means and how it can enhance the customer experience and result in a healthier bottom line.
Omnichannel Commerce and Customer Loyalty
Omnichannel retail aims to provide a seamless experience, regardless of channels and devices. Even with technology, consumers still expect customer service at every touchpoint.
Consider the fact that studies indicate a significant share of consumers research products online before purchasing on-site, while others take the opposite approach. This is another reason physical and online stores co-exist.
Customers today aren’t a monolith when it comes to shopping preferences. However, brands would benefit from studying these groups and what
Understanding In-Store Shoppers
Retailers with a physical presence are still the norm, despite the advent of online sales and the onset of the global pandemic.
In other words, some consumers still favor brick-and-mortar retailers—a point that brands cannot afford to discount or overlook. Traditional in-store shoppers appreciate the 3D and sometimes sensory experience of physically browsing products and the opportunity to engage in real-time. However, they might encounter challenges such as inventory shortages or waiting in long checkout lines. These pain points may prompt some customers to opt for the convenience of e-commerce.
Understanding Online Shoppers
The online shopping journey offers customers greater flexibility, enabling them to browse and purchase products on their device of choice. The ease of comparing prices and access to a wide variety of choices attracts consumers to this buying experience. Convenience, timesaving, and cost-effectiveness are other high points.
However, loyalty still must be earned. Retailers must focus on building brands synonymous with stellar customer service and a unique shopping experience. Inventory management is one means to that end.
What Inventory Management Means for Customer Experience and Sales
A significant proportion of small businesses fail to effectively track their inventory, which can result in lost time, money, and other resources. On the customer side, finding the desired product only to discover it is out of stock can evoke frustration, potentially leading to customer churn.
In many cases, the product may still be available elsewhere, but poor inventory management jeopardizes customer access. To address some operational deficits and enhance both customer experience and sales, retailers must adopt a unified view of their inventory.
Key Focus Areas for Retailers in Inventory Management
Inventory management is both an art and a science. That said, here are some areas that retailers would benefit from by investing in an inventory management system (IMS).
Understanding the Relationship between Sales and Inventory
To avoid overstocking or understocking products, retailers must analyze and understand the relationship between sales and inventory. Leveraging data insights helps in understanding making connections in demand patterns and ensures optimal stock levels.
Efficiently Managing Residual Inventory
Residual inventory reflects items leftover from one season and carried over to the next. One means to prevent this from becoming a recurring issue is to offer markdowns during off-seasons.
Automating Inventory Management Processes
Automation is a crucial step in ensuring accurate data and gaining valuable insights into popular and profitable products. Retailers can optimize purchase and replenishment decisions by relying on real-time inventory data.
With this goal in mind, an inventory management system allows users to glean insights related to stock levels, while monitoring inventory movements, sales trends and stockouts with a few clicks. With accurate data at their fingertips, retailers can make informed decisions about restocking, promotions, and pricing, ensuring that shelves are well-stocked, and customers' demands are met promptly.
Optimizing Inventory Management Across Multiple Locations
Retailers with multiple locations must manage their inventory as a unified stock pool. This approach enables them to identify opportunities for stock transfers, improving overall inventory efficiency.
Implementing Effective Tracking Systems
Visibility into inventory movement is essential to providing excellent customer service. Tracking systems help employees locate products quickly. It also can mean a more seamless experience for both staff and customers.
IMS solutions make shifting into an omnichannel mode less of a transition, via automated inventory counts, stock synchronization, purchase orders, inventory tracking, and more. An IMS helps maintain precise inventory counts through automation and integration with point-of-sale (POS) systems. Each sale or update is recorded instantly, reducing human errors, and providing a reliable picture of stock levels. This accuracy enables retailers to optimize their supply chain, reducing carrying costs while maintaining the right amount of inventory to meet demand.
Strategies for Meeting Customer Demands
Customers today rely on technology in all facets of their lives and expect businesses to meet their demands promptly. Clear, accurate order tracking and
By integrating all sales channels into a single data source, retailers can enhance inventory visibility across the entire supply chain. In turn, this integration allows retailers to leverage the vast potential of online shopping while expanding their reach and boosting profitability.
Efficiency and Organized Operations
Efficiency plays a vital role in delivering exceptional customer service and maintaining internal order. By choosing the right inventory management system, retailers can satisfy both objectives. An organized, streamlined approach ensures that customers receive their orders promptly and correctly. In return, brands benefit from customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Customers are more likely to trust and return to a retailer that consistently delivers what they promise. A positive customer experience builds loyalty, generates word-of-mouth referrals, and contributes to overall brand growth.
Simplifying Inventory Management
Managing inventory can be an arduous task for any company. Striking the delicate balance between meeting consumer demand and avoiding overstocking can be quite challenging.
For businesses, poor inventory management can lead to insurmountable costs and numerous pitfalls. However, avoiding these issues is easier said than done, as human errors and fallibility can complicate matters.
To overcome these challenges, every company must embrace the right technology. An inventory management system integrated with a cloud-based ERP solution emerges as the ideal solution in this context.
An effective inventory management system can be the determining factor between a lost sale and a returning customer. By enhancing inventory visibility for shoppers and streamlining order fulfillment operations, retailers can improve their bottom line and create a customer-centric shopping experience.
To excel in the competitive retail landscape, companies must embrace omnichannel strategies and invest in a robust inventory management solution. By doing so, they can stay ahead of the curve, woo customers, and look to sustained growth and success.
On that note,