Automation is the Answer to Retail’s Inventory Woes, Survey Says

New research from Bossa Nova indicates that automation is the answer to retailers dire need of a solution for inventory problems.

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Photo by Alexander Isreb from Pexels

New survey findings from data service provider Bossa Nova uncover the chronic inventory problems affecting the $1.3 trillion retail industry. The vast majority (87 percent) of corporate retail professionals report inaccurate inventories are to blame for more lost revenue than theft (13 percent), and the breadth of the problem is apparent: nearly all (99 percent) survey respondents admit to some kind of constant inventory problem.

“Inventory accuracy is a never-ending challenge for retailers,” sai Martin Hitch, Bossa Nova co-founder and chief business officer. “Bossa Nova’s mission is to help retailers understand what’s happening in their stores and more specifically on their shelves. Our data is ground truth for the store and enables retailers to transform store operations, influencing everything from the flow of goods, to the product replenishment process and ultimately, to the customer shopping experience.”

Among the key findings:

Despite major spending on inventory management, catastrophic problems remain.

  • 73 percent state inaccurate inventory forecasting is a constant issue, meaning retailers end up with too much or too little supply to meet demand
  • 66 percent say price inaccuracy is a consistent issue, which can lead to unbalanced P&L reports
  • 65 percent report an inability to track inventory through the supply chain, resulting in potential sales lost

Wasted time is wasted profits.

  • 67 percent of retailers feel that analyzing inventory on store shelves is not an effective use of employees’ time
  • Data shows that instead of spending time on sales-driven customer service and upselling, the majority of employee time is spent filling out-of-stock holes on shelves (56 percent) and pulling items forward on shelves (55 percent)

Technology is moving faster than the industry.

  • 92 percent of retailers agree their stores spend more time identifying inventory issues than they do implementing solutions
  • 81 percent feel their stores are only keeping pace or actually falling behind technologically, despite the availability of new technologies

Automation is the answer.

  • 76 percent of retailers say the introduction of robots in stores would improve employee productivity
  • 74 percent said inventory accuracy would improve as a result, while increased profits would be another direct result of introducing in-store robots
  • A majority (62 percent) of retailers feel that employees would embrace their new, automated colleagues