In order for brands to survive in today’s omnichannel era, it’s imperative that they know where their products are at all times, across all channels, and in all stages of the order and fulfillment process.
As point of sale (POS) software becomes more intuitive and retailers have the ability to complete sales across many channels, brands are looking to get creative with their sales and fulfillment strategies.
Getting Creative Across all Channels
Nothing turns a customer off more than selecting an item, adding it to their bag, only to then find out that it’s out of stock. In the fight to both stay accurate and retain customers, retailers everywhere are implementing new and creative strategies across all channels to help combat this issue.
From an operational standpoint, companies are adding distribution centers and linking their omnichannel operations to help communicate across all departments. And, on the fulfillment side, businesses are adding powerful data analysis tools to help avoid out-of-stocks and overstocks.
Creative fulfillment strategies are popping up all over the place: brands like Taylor Stitch are designing prototypes and crowdsourcing funds before actually creating products, helping to avoid out-of-stocks and overstocks.
Pop-up shops are helping brands to complete sales in person and directly ship items to a customer’s home by utilizing a multichannel platform to fulfill the request. Other retailers are adding alternative checkout methods like Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and virtual checkouts, which help get customers out the door quickly to make room for new ones.
Freda Salvador’s pop-up trailer shop
The Importance of Inventory Management
With new fulfillment strategies constantly emerging, it’s more important than ever to track and manage inventory management across all channels. Small retailers and startups are in a unique, advantageous situation with plenty of tools at their disposal.
“The issue isn’t having enough data, especially given the vast amount of online data and offline behavior increasingly tracked digitally. The challenge is to devise meaningful analyses that can benefit both customers and businesses, for example by generating personalized offers based on data,” says Denise Dahlhoff, research director of the Wharton School’s Baker Retailing Center at the University of Pennsylvania. “Analytical expertise is a key asset for today’s retailers, and the smart use of data can be a competitive advantage.”
Advanced analytics help retailers define each unique customer journey. In-store retailers are starting to sync with online inventory, but that alone is not enough. Less than half of retailers have store staff who can order out-of-stock items for customers, and, less than one tenth of retailers have in-store kiosks that customers can use to order out-of-stocks themselves while shopping in stores.
Consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of visibility across retail channels, especially when it comes to checking product availability. In order to stay competitive and retain customer loyalty, retailers need to start investing in tools that can help provide product availability insight across all channels.
Accurate Inventory Tracking
Retailers need to invest in big data insights, not just a simple data collection warehouse. With modern brands adapting to become increasingly creative with their fulfillment strategies, the need for tools to help enable their stock workflow is more critical than ever.
Freda Salvador, a Bay Area-based women’s apparel brand, creates very small batches of stock with their entire product line hand made in Spain. However, they were having difficulty keeping on top of their product availability on both their eCommerce site and in-store location in Los Angeles. They needed a hub to centralize their product data in order to make informed business decisions and they needed tools to help provide in-depth reporting.
“With Lightspeed, Stitch, and Shopify Plus integrated, I’m able to quickly see at a glance how products are performing. I no longer have to download multiple reports and aggregate them all. I have such better insight into how the business is performing at any given moment in time…From a fulfillment standpoint, our workflow is 10 times better. Everything is automated.” said Theresa Luke, Operations Manager at Freda Salvador.
With Stitch, customers have the flexibility to cater their personalized data analysis and fulfillment needs to their unique workflow. By having everything in one centralized hub, retailers are able to analyze data cross-departmentally and determine exactly what inventory is needed, and when.
“Stitch allows us to not think about inventory. We know when and where we’re selling products and we know what we have available. Stitch is the brain for knowing where our inventory is,” said Mark Hansen, CEO at Topo Designs.
Retailers can no longer simply rely on simple analytics like clicks, site visits, and traffic source. Data needs to be compiled and tracked at the granular level; customer behavior, product, and channel performance need to be constantly tracked and retailers need a single hub to track their product availability.
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