Is your retail business growing? Are you faced with the complexities of operating multiple stores in addition to eCommerce? If so, it’s time to consider using a retail inventory management system to satisfy shoppers’ demands and improve your bottom line.
A connected retail ecosystem has become the new normal in retail. Customers want what they want, when they want it. They’re unconcerned with the idea of “channels.” All that matters to them is that their experience in each and every channel is seamless and consistent.
Download iVend Retail’s 2016-2017 Great Omnichannel Expectations Shopper Survey Report for insights into what your customers really want.
Implementing a retail inventory management system is a key element of delivering a superior customer experience. First, the system enables you to provide accurate, up-to-the-minute insights on your total inventory holdings across all channels. This is particularly valuable for customers searching for a must-have product or an item released in limited quantities that’s selling quickly. Gone are the days when a shoulder shrug was a sufficient answer to a customer’s questions about whether a product out of stock in one location was available in another.
What’s more, a retail inventory management system serves up merchandise on a first-come, first-served basis, so that demand can be fulfilled regardless of the channel. This efficiency both reduces the likelihood of unwanted inventory lingering at the end of the season and ensures that a product that’s languishing on store shelves in Cleveland is available to eCommerce shoppers in Chicago.
With an inventory management system, an out-of-stock doesn’t mean the end of the customer conversation. The platform simplifies the process of looking up product holdings throughout your enterprise, enabling you to order an item and have it shipped to the customer’s location — saving the sale and delighting the shopper.
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What makes shoppers happy? It’s often finding the right mix of products — not only what customers were initially looking for but also additional items of interest. Data from your inventory management system provides valuable insights about the key products that are selling strongly and should always be in stock to meet demand and drive sales. Bare shelves and barren racks are among the most disappointing things a shopper can encounter in your store. Confronted with empty display cases, a customer may decide to take her business elsewhere, resulting in lost sales and eroded loyalty.
This is a primary reason retail inventory management systems are so important. They help keep a steady supply of goods flowing into the store to ensure that customers aren’t disappointed. What’s more, you can combine data from your inventory software with details from your vendors and shipping partners to optimize reorders so that you always have just the right amount of product on hand — not too much or too little.
Retail is always looking ahead, planning six, 12, or 18 months out in the future. With new products and shipments planned so far in advance, it’s important to “get it right” the first time or be left with excess inventory on hand — and the costly markdowns that come with them.
To fine-tune your demand plan, turn to your retail inventory management system. Historical data from the platform can yield critical information to shape your future forecast so that you’re ordering more “hits” than “misses.” For example, if last summer’s strappy block-heel sandal sold out in size 9 two weeks after hitting shelves, it might be a good idea to order more deeply in the size for the similar product you’re planning for the coming warm weather.
Every retailer strives to delight customers and create a rewarding shopping experience. As shoppers increasingly interact across multiple channels, retailers should prepare to meet cross-channel demand with a retail inventory management system that can deliver on customer expectations — and reduce operational costs.