The face of retail has changed dramatically in today’s digitally connected world. Consumers are more well-informed than ever before and have increasingly higher expectations of their shopping experience.
Not only do they want convenience and value, but they want the ability to purchase anything, from anyplace, at any time. Demanding fast and efficient delivery to anywhere and making it progressively more challenging for SMEs to provide their consumers with optimum shopping outcomes.
SMEs must adapt to effectively accommodate these new consumption and delivery trends in multi-channel environments. Adopting a holistic view of consumer demand and inventory stock availability will allow SMEs to structure processes and logistics to ensure omni-channel delivery from multiple sites and platforms.
What is an Omni-Channel?
Omni-channel warehousing and distribution strategies cultivate a ‘single view’ approach to inventory control. Applying little distinction between e-commerce and physical wholesale and retail channels, merging the company’s sales channels to facilitate a seamless end-to-end purchasing experience for their customers and clients.
Incorporating an omni-channel strategy into your organisation requires a robust warehouse management system, an efficient order management system and shipping rate shopping tools. If supported by a strong workflow, the functionality these combined tools can deliver assists in making any facility omni-channel ready.
The Modern Shopper
The contemporary omni-channel customer is always connected. Whether via mobile or the internet, consumers are well informed about their choices. These customers will comparison shop while standing inside a physical store, comparing prices, checking reviews or finding alternate store locations.
Mobile technology helps shoppers find the best deals. When making a purchase decision they expect the inventory stock for an item to be available, at their preferred time and in their preferred place. Make sure whatever the item your website says is in store, is in the store.
Getting It Right
Warehouse, distribution and order fulfilment centres need to improve such key areas as visibility of inventory stock, shipping and in-store customer pick-ups within each channel.
Optimise inventory control by utilising inventory management tools that provide real-time sales updates and analytics. This single stock pool enables vendors to manage inventory stock from anywhere, at any time. The data should also be accessible to all sales staff across the organisation to ensure availability can meet demand.
Sync omni-channel retail with your brick-and-mortar point of sale and online store to improve order capture and network speed. Optimising agility across any channel or combination of channels that customers prefer.
Having an integrated software suite will allow SMEs to tailor their system to unique and business specific needs. Download reports and receive a daily stock alerts on items that are low or out-of-stock, so you always know how much inventory stock you have on hand.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
RFID technology helps retailers to compete with online sellers through omni-channel sales, whether in the store, online, via social media or any combination of these channels. Not only does RFID provide businesses with over 90 percent accuracy of inventory stock but handheld RFID readers are able to scan tags on entire racks of items. For clothing retails this allows sales staff to instantly see the styles and sizes that need replenishing.
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.