As customers start to expect continuity between in-store and online products and services, the pressure on retail businesses to have near-perfect accuracy increases. For those new to the online retail market, the demand of customers to limit gaps between online and in-store can be daunting. By using online inventory management, online and in-store stock can be kept up to date and accurate, improving customer satisfaction and profit.
Uniting online and in-store
Disconnected inventory management systems can lead to stock-outs and long waiting times for customers. Using an online inventory management system can offer visibility through the different platforms and allow for accuracy of stock levels. By bridging the gap between online and in-store supply and demand, customer satisfaction can be improved because of the minimised levels of error. Similarly, online inventory management systems can offer measures of supply chain predictability and accurate forecasts that would otherwise be impossible to make.
Taking advantage of mobile services
Outdated retail practices such as checkouts are detrimental to the customer satisfaction levels in-store. By using mobile point-of-sale (POS) systems, transactions can be made anywhere in-store, meaning minimal lines for customers and better customer service. By allowing staff access to the shop floor, interactions with customers can provide them with better product information and generally better customer service. Mobile POS systems can track sales details, allowing for easier management of staff and sales rates.
Offer visibility across platforms
Online inventory management enables businesses to track stock levels regardless of location and without delay. For retailers with online and in-store presence, this valuable information can increase sales and help customers find out whether items are in stock without hassle. Removing the doubt that accompanies estimated stock levels enables sales to be completed on time, rather than being delayed because of stock outages. Real-time visibility can also enable staff to inform customers of the nearest outlet with the product in stock. The overall impact of online inventory management can improve customer service, cut down on delivery time, and increase customer satisfaction.
The endless aisle
The notion of an endless aisle is that virtual catalogues give customers insight into the larger product range available in a store. An example of this is the use of an in-store tablet that displays unshelved products. For physical stores, showing customers a larger option range is critical for keeping up with online retailers. Because of the limitations of shelf space, catalogues of a businesses’ full product line can reduce customer walk-out because they couldn’t find what they were looking for.
Using technology to your advantage
Physical retail stores constantly update stock levels manually, typically with staff hand-counting items. This process is not only outdated but can also be inaccurate and a waste of resources. Taking advantage of robotics and AI to perform these mundane tasks can free up valuable employee time that can be redirected towards customer experience and increased sales.
For retail companies, keeping up with demand both online and in-store can be challenging, and finding an accurate stocktaking measure can be a game changer. Investing in online inventory management allows for real-time data, bridging the gaps between an online marketplace and a physical store. The potential of this new management system can cut down lines in store and offer customers products they would otherwise not know was being stocked. Taking advantage of technological developments such as the use of robots and AI can free up employees that can then be focussed on business-building tasks such as improving customer experience.
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.