There are 60 days left until Cyber Monday, the online super-shopping Monday after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday; do you have full visibility of your inventory?
Today’s customers expect to get what they want, where and when and how they want it—especially when it is a real bargain on a Black Friday or a Cyber Monday. They want to grab a mega-bargain online and, if it disappoints, return it in in-store. They want to order a shopping-list full of deals using a mobile app and pick them up locally in-store or have them delivered. What they don’t want is to find that the items they ordered are not available when they go to check out or to pick them up.
This is what omni-channel is all about—enabling consumers a consistent, reliable experience with a retailer no matter how they choose to interact. But what looks seamless and easy from the customers’ perspective takes vast effort from retailers, long lumbered with complex and siloed processes behind the scenes.
To achieve the omni-channel dream, retailers need full visibility of their valuable inventory. In the single-channel retail world if a product was not on the shelf, the retailer would miss an opportunity to sell it. In the omni-channel world, the opposite is true. A product could be on the shelf of your store, but if a customer wants to order it online for next-day delivery you could lose the sale.
One way to prevent this disconnect would be by providing the customer with insight into inventory at his or her local store or other locations, with the option to pick it up there. This may sound obvious, but many retailers on the omni-channel journey cannot offer this. According to Information Age, 71% of consumers expect to be able to do an online inventory check – but only 32% of retailers offer the ability to do this.
Inventory visibility is a cornerstone of omni-channel as it enables dynamic decisions on where online orders are fulfilled. Optimizing inventory means having visibility into every product in every location at all times, along with the ability to adjust operations accordingly.
Tackling the visibility challenge requires investment, but it can be attained quickly via real-time connectivity between different systems. This requires flexible connectivity between enterprise resource planning (ERP), store inventory management systems, warehouse management systems and other inventory masters such as the inventory systems of suppliers.
To attain a real-time view, a real-time inventory data store using in-memory technology is required in order to incorporate the impact of sales, goods received and inventory movements—minute by minute. This in-memory data acts as the real-time inventory master for the entire omni-channel operation at all times.
Optimizing your resources will allow you to distribute products – from ordering to pick-up and delivery – from any channel. Get ready—you have 60 days until Cyber Monday.