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Inventory, innovation and investment: why a single stock pool should be retailers’ primary focus

It really doesn’t seem as if Christmas and the January sales were that long ago, but many retailers will now be preparing for Easter, and the uplift in footfall and sales that the four-day holiday can deliver. This is a hugely valuable opportunity for many retailers, from the fashion sector and supermarkets, to DIY stores, white goods merchants and garden centres.

But while Easter marks the first big trading spike since the festive period, it certainly won’t be the last between now and next Christmas. Retail now seems to experience an increasing number of moments like these during the year, when demand for certain types of product surges.

At such times, the paramount importance of business processes and omnichannel technology solutions that enable retailers to put the right quantity of stock into the right places at the right time is thrown into sharp focus. The potential value of an integrated retail management suite, offering a single stock view of inventory and helping to ensure there is neither too much nor too little stock in stores, or within the different parts of the supply chain, becomes very clear.

With such systems and processes in place, a retailer can move inventory between stores as required and will be prepared to cope with the unexpected, rather than having to scramble to produce extra stock in specific locations to manage unpredictable demand.

If stock is where it needs to be, when it needs to be there, this also maximises the number of sales that will be made at full price, reducing the need for and number of markdowns. Better technology also makes it easier to increase the efficiency of back office warehousing processes. Warehouses should be organised in a way that makes it as easy as possible to store inventory, to move stock to where it is needed in a timely way; and to manage the returns process as efficiently as possible.

Moving to a single stock pool approach

When it comes to managing inventory, most omnichannel retailers will find the best gain in efficiency, productivity and customer service by moving to a single stock pool approach. This model reduces the overstocking that can result when every individual service channel has a dedicated stock pool. It also reduces the requirement for ‘safety stock’, held to protect against errors in forecasting that might otherwise mean empty shelves in-store or stock being unavailable to online shoppers.

Additionally, a single stock model enables retailers to fulfil from any location, including from stores; and helps ensure customers get a consistent – and consistently good – experience when buying from an omnichannel retailer regardless of channel.

To help retailers embrace the benefits of this approach, iVend Retail has created a single stock pool whitepaper. It describes how a transition to this approach can be achieved through adaptation of existing business processes, including merchandise planning, range/assortment planning, promotion planning and demand forecasting, along with warehouse management.

Our whitepaper also considers the value of integrating freight forwarder companies’ stock tracking systems into a single view of inventory, in order to manage imported merchandise availability more effectively. It examines the capabilities needed in the supply chain to manage specific events like clearance sales; and how to streamline returns processes within the single stock pool model.

Simplify the supply chain to maximise profits

The move to a single stock pool can be a complex undertaking, but if planned and supported effectively, it results in a more streamlined, simplified supply chain – with stock holding reduced by up to 20%, Moreover, it is enables omnichannel retailers to match supply and demand more effectively across every channel.

By embracing a single stock pool model, the cost savings gained and the resulting improvements in stock availability and customer service can be substantial – particularly at busy times like Easter.

For more support with your inventory management, download our whitepaper: moving to a single stock pool.

CEO of CitiXsys Kamal Karmakar is widely respected as an innovator and expert strategist within the retail sector. Under his guidance, CitiXsys has established itself as a market leader in retail technology with a reputation for delivering integrated retail management solutions (iVend Retail) for the way retailers work today.

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