Controlling inventory is essential to the efficiency and profitability of any retail business. An inventory database provides retailers with an accurate, up-to-date picture of stock levels for each product so that they have what it takes to meet customer demand without overstocking.
There is a steep cost to managing inventory poorly. Case in point: 50 percent of U.S. retail decision-makers say inventory misjudgments prevented them from making more full-price sales, according to insights from Coresight Research.
As global supply chain issues and rising customer expectations add strain to retailers’ lives, proper inventory management can save the day. So, what tech features should retailers look for in an inventory management system? Here’s what some of the pros recommend.
Click the banner below to unlock exclusive cloud content when you register as an Insider.
Automation Is Essential to a Modern Inventory Management Strategy
According to McKinsey Digital, AI-powered planning decreases supply chain network mistakes by 30 to 50 percent. As retailers know, inventory management goes beyond storing and delivering items from one place to another. It both generates and relies on substantial amounts of data to be effective in terms of time, money and workforce. That’s where AI comes in. Trained intelligence acts as a supervisor and a watchdog, accurately analyzing the effect weather conditions, events, economic situations and more will have on sales. AI allows businesses to forecast their consumers’ upcoming wants and create product inventories appropriately.
Automated reordering keeps accurate track of stock transferring, unites multiple locations reporting in your chain, processes store orders and notifies consumers about the goods dispatch — without the very real potential for human error.
Go with an inventory management system that includes a business intelligence interface. You’ll be generating loads of data, and it would be a waste to let that data go unexamined. You never know the sales insights you’ll uncover.
LEARN MORE: Read what tech leaders say retailers must do to overhaul the in-store experience.
How Technology Can Help Modernize Inventory Management
If you want to eventually sell across a variety of platforms and provide a consistent experience for your customers, then you need to be able to track inventory across all sales channels. Digital multichannel inventory management solutions offer automated inventory tracking covering multiple channels via one streamlined dashboard.
Because inventory is being purchased via multiple channels, “There’s been a lot of demand for better order management systems in general,” says Tracy Woo, a senior analyst at Forrester Research. “Consumers expect physical stores to offer the same product assortment that is online in the store. And online consumers expect rapid delivery (same-day, one-day or two-day) for products they could get by just walking into the store.” All of this depends on real-time inventory management.
Click the banner below to follow the most influential voices in retail technology.
Features to Help Staff Stay on Top of Inventory
Consider that consumers return roughly 20 to 30 percent of the goods they buy online. The right return policy, with the help of the right software, tracks these movements accordingly. For example, an undamaged returned product purchased online should be able to flow seamlessly back into inventory at a brick-and-mortar store, where it can be sold to someone else.
Mobile sales apps are especially popular with floor staff and allow them to answer questions about what’s in stock and where without leaving a customer’s side to walk back to a terminal. They’re also great for traveling sales staff: A mobile sales app means big sales orders can be placed with full visibility over lead times and the company’s ability to fulfill the order.
Ideally, your inventory management system should include automatic alerts for when important stock is running low. The best automated alert systems also automatically generate purchase orders when needed.
As you look ahead and plan for the future, examine the pieces of your retail puzzle closely. Inventory makes up a considerable part of this puzzle, and without the right software in place to manage it, your business simply can’t thrive.