How Retailers Can Tackle Their Inventory Management Challenges

In a nutshell, it is an investment that shows significant returns, making it a must-have for retailers seeking to stay ahead in the retail game.

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With the rise of e-commerce and the ever-changing behaviors of consumers, retailers have encountered their fair share of challenges. One of those challenges that continues to be prevalent today is known as the lifeblood of any retail store - inventory management. Inventory is the most important factor for retailers, aside from customers, yet stores still have inaccuracies in their inventories that create far-reaching implications from customer experience to the bottom line. Technology tailored specifically for inventory management can greatly help in this area, eliminating negative impacts while improving inventory accuracy for retailers.

Shopping is all about the customer experience, and if you don’t have the products that customers want to buy because they’re not in stock, you will lose money. According to Retail Dive, retailers can lose up to $1 trillion with out-of-stock items. Don’t let that be you, especially when customers have more options to shop than ever before. 

Inventory inaccuracies originate from a myriad of sources, such as data entry errors, theft, supplier fraud and discrepancies during shipping and receiving. On average, retailers only have about a 65% inventory accuracy rate, according to Shopify. These inaccuracies do not just translate into financial losses, but they also culminate in poor customer experiences. When products listed as available are actually out-of-stock or vice versa, customer dissatisfaction goes up and their chance of returning to your store goes down. 

An added area of concern is the fact that retailers use too many applications for the store staff to deal with on a daily basis, creating efficiency roadblocks. There are applications for receiving, replenishment, customer experience, omnichannel fulfillment, analytics and more. These applications don’t talk to each other, nor are they efficient in the onboarding process for your team, as your staff has to be trained on each of those applications. Ultimately, this creates an inefficient process for your employees and a disconnected experience for your customers. 

A better, seamless omnichannel experience is the perfect solution to this less-than-ideal retail ecosystem. Leveraging technology, data analytics and real-time inventory visibility can help retailers overcome supply chain challenges to align their inventory with customer demand. Retailers must invest in a robust retail technology solution that is designed to enhance the in-store experience for customers and improve operational efficiency.

An all-encompassing, AI-powered, mobile-first application that transforms a store into a customer experience zone and omnichannel fulfillment center helps retailers completely transform the shopper experience. Retailers can utilize technology with numerous features, such as seamless integration with existing point-of-sale (POS), access to end-to-end inventory management, omnichannel fulfillment, workforce management and intelligent tasking for the overall shopping consumer environment. Your employees will train only on one system, allowing for a fast and easy onboarding process.

Make sure you increase margins and avoid markdowns when it comes to inventory management. That’s why having real-time visibility into your inventory is crucial. Utilize Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to track every single item in all of your stores, allowing for inventory replenishment at just the right time. Such live inventory insights also allow you to know when to move inventory between stores to avoid out-of-stock situations. According to ECR Loss, an increase of 4-8% in sales can be achieved by improving inventory record accuracy. Partner with a company that provides a platform with RFID overhead and handheld systems to help improve inventory accuracy to 99%. Simply put, by investing in an inventory management system, retailers are investing in their bottom line. 

It’s important to collect real-time inventory data and create tasks, dashboards, and insights for different store personnel, ensuring everyone is on the same page. Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), retail inventory management solutions enhance the retail experience manifold. AI enables personalized experiences, intelligent insights and recommendations for customers and retailers. By connecting data from the sales floor, back store, and across fulfillment centers, retailers can improve tasks, prioritize workflows and optimize store layouts, creating an omnichannel fulfillment process. 

Also, having access to features such as smart fitting rooms, personalized stylist recommendations, and frictionless checkout is a game-changer for retailers. These new features completely modernize the customer experience. Shoppers can have a personalized experience in shopping rooms, digitally call staff for additional sizes and items, see recommendations, and know exactly which items are available in which stores. These features not only reduce inventory inaccuracies but also build customer loyalty to your store. With frictionless checkout, retailers provide a faster and more pleasant shopping experience. Tap-to-pay technology in Smart Fitting Rooms or on store floors allows shoppers to complete their purchases quickly without waiting on any employee assistance. 

Deployment of some advanced retail management inventory solutions can be done within just a few weeks without any disruption to existing systems, ensuring a seamless transition. Once integration is complete, you are able to scale up orders shipped from stores without adding staff or compromising service. It also allows retailers to modernize in-store operations to decrease shrinkage and costs while increasing employee satisfaction. Deliver omni-advantages for your shoppers by scaling up buy-online, pickup-in-store (BOPIS) and ship-from-store (SFS) capacity without adding additional staff, saving you time and money. 

By adopting modernized inventory management solutions, retailers can combat the big challenge of inventory inaccuracy while also helping to improve customer loyalty, optimize in-store operations, and provide seamless omnichannel experiences. In a nutshell, it is an investment that shows significant returns, making it a must-have for retailers seeking to stay ahead in the retail game.