How Changes in Retail are Impacting Inventory Management

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The traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores are changing the way they operate. In the face of eCommerce, brick-and-mortar stores are coming up with clever ways to remain competitive in this vast shift in purchasing behaviours. In order to remain competitive, physical stores are looking for methods to optimise their operational efficiency. New technology is also emerging that is shaping the way retailers and customers interact with inventory stock. Let’s take a closer look at how the changes in retail are carving new paths for inventory management.

Changing the experience for staff and customers

There has been a lot of legwork to improve interactions with inventory stock for both employees and for customers. When a customer is in a store, they want to have real-time visibility of the inventory stock available. Retailers are able to have this feature available with a few interconnected IT tools. When a retailer uses an online inventory management system, all inventory stock in the warehouse and on the store floor is tracked in real-time. Mobile devices can be equipped with an app that allows employees to track what stock they have available. This provides an instant answer for customers and can lead to higher satisfaction and quicker purchasing decisions. Employees can quickly detect if others stores are stocking the item or if it can be shipped to the customer.

Mobile point-of-sale systems are a fascinating tool for customers to interact with their purchase quicker and to minimise lines in retail stores. With mobile point-of-sales systems, customers can experience enhanced customer service and shorter wait times. Employees can check customers out anywhere in the store.

Technological enhacements

Artificial intelligence is becoming an increasingly powerful tool as well. It has the potential to transform the inventory management industry and how retailers interact with their stock, and stock their racks and shelves. Automated devices such as robots and computer vision can reduce labour costs and reduce the amount of time that employees spending restocking shelves.

Another interesting concept is the endless aisle. The fundamental idea behind this is that in-store tablets or kiosks can be the point of interaction to provide virtual catalogues. These digital devices provide an endless aisle of merchandise, effectively bridging the gap between eCommerce and traditional stores. It also reduces overheads as you don’t have to have such a big store to house every single item your company produces. Rather, an endless aisle is a compromise between the two platforms, brick-and-mortar and eCommerce. It can stop situations where customers get frustrated because they can’t find what they are looking for. If it’s not on the store shelves, prompt them to have a look at an endless aisle device before departing.

In order to keep up with the world of eCommerce, brick-and-mortar retailers need to be open to modernising their stores and inventory spaces. They need to be responsive to what customers want and invest in cloud-based systems to create agile opportunities for inventory management. It is a fast-paced and ever-changing market, so retailers need to be prepared to move with it.

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Melanie - Unleashed Software

Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.

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