Part 1: 3 ways retailers can gift themselves with enhanced inventory management this holiday season
This is a 3-part blog series to prepare you for the upcoming holiday season.
The season of giving is quickly approaching retailers and consumers alike. With many merchants facing challenged supply chains and weakened operations as a direct result of COVID-19, this season may not be the happiest time of year for retailers – despite the holiday’s historic reputation to deliver just that. However, there’s still ample opportunity for retailers to proactively prepare for a successful holiday season.
Bringing clarity to inventory management is the most valuable asset – or gift – a retailer can give themselves. This clarity is delivered by data, ultimately providing real-time visibility into inventory both accessible and not accessible to consumers at any given time and via any channel they interact with. Whether consumers are browsing online, shopping in a physical store or using a search engine to direct themselves to other sources of inventory, like marketplaces and more, retailers need to have the confidence that their inventory being shared with consumers is in fact available.
Expanding on this, here are three ways retailers can gift themselves this holiday season through inventory management.
#1: Eliminate multiple inventory tracking systems by introducing a single inventory system to help boost operations, customer experience and sales
Leveraging multiple, disparate inventory tracking systems creates issues with acheiving accurate inventory availability and thus, compromises consumer trust and retailer profit opportunities. Merchants lose dollars when they do not have up-to-the-second intelligence of their stock across their entire supply chain. As a result, this potentially puts them at risk of losing revenue. But they do not have to manage their business this way. With cloud-based solutions, such as IBM Sterling Intelligent Promising, retailers can avoid lost sales due to a lack of understanding accurate inventory levels, as well as avoid overpromising and unnecessary shipping charges. And all of this can be managed while meeting customer demands. This omnichannel effort is truly a gift that gives back year-round to merchants that welcome it into their operations.
#2: Gain a 360-degree perspective on fulfillment opportunities, challenges and all touchpoints that connect these avenues together
With 78% of U.S. online adults believing it’s important for retailers to offer real-time inventory visibility, it’s critical retailers have a single inventory tracking system in place to achieve this. Fulfillment promises are only achieved when inventory visibility is available in real-time, and this includes having clarity on upcoming deliveries, historic sales data, customer engagement with inventory and of course, sales. Collectively, these details enable merchants to be more proactive and more profitable in their immediate and future inventory planning activities – ultimately leading to strengthened inventory turns and increased conversions no matter where consumers prefer to make their purchases.
#3: Welcome an endless aisle into your inventory management that connects you to more customers, more often
Among the many advantages of retailers using a single inventory tracking system is that they gain more control over their future inventory planning efforts thanks to the real-time data it provides across all channels. As retailers look ahead to the holidays, it’s critical to have a single view of inventory via one dashboard that can be customized to meet both immediate needs and future inventory planning efforts. This can include drop-shopping, supplier management, traditional brick and mortar, and digital selling avenues such as ecommerce and marketplaces. With an endless aisle approach, retailers can welcome endless opportunities to drive business success.
As we look ahead to the holiday season, it’s important to reflect on past and current operational challenges you have had in order to overcome them in the months leading up to the holidays. With inventory management being at the core of all retail businesses, it’s fair to say that gifting your retail operations a real-time inventory visibility and management system is the best present you can give yourself to overcome these challenges. And the best part about this? More transactions should follow, which is ultimately the best gift of all – increased sales.