Almost every retailer would like to successfully leap into the omnichannel universe and begin converting customers online, in stores, and on mobile devices. A core component of determining success or failure in the omnichannel space is how inventories are managed. When strategically and tactically sound practices to track and fulfill inventory are implemented, huge revenue increases and reduced costs can be realized. However, improperly managed inventory can result in frustrated customers and red ink.
It starts with planning
Most retailers experience recognizable and fairly predictable sales cycles. Adding sales channels adds complexity to effective forecasting — but when a single integrated software platform is used for every channel, trends across them are mineable. Using a combination of data warehousing and data mining tools, it is possible to analyze historical data to determine what inventory moved across which channels. Then, an effective forecast that considers which channel will fulfill which orders can be created. This is much more difficult to achieve when disparate software is used for each channel.
Another benefit of integrated retail management software is that it enables collective merchandise purchasing. In an omnichannel environment, retailers no longer view online and brick and mortar businesses as separate. Efficiencies are achieved when inventory for every channel is handled on a single purchase order. Carefully tracking merchandise is also possible and very important because ominchannel integration also makes inventory location less relevant.
Imagine an online fulfillment warehouse runs out of a popular SKU. When integration is lacking, online customer orders are put on backorder and lost sales result. Integrated omnichannel software can immediately determine if a physical retail outlet has inventory of the item and immediately route fulfillment from that store so the online shopper is not told to wait. Knowing where all inventory is located at all times enables fulfillment of that inventory from any channel.
Don’t get ahead of yourself
The benefits of omnichannel marketing, sales, and fulfillment are so vast that the desire to jump in immediately is understandable. It makes more sense, though, to adopt a very deliberate approach and make sure the right solutions are implemented the first time. Beware of platforms that market themselves as integrated but rely on several different systems pieced together. True integration can only be achieved by a singular solution.
That is not to say that a one size fits all solution exists. Considerations like how you want to connect with your customers and how to brand yourself come into play when determining which options make the most sense for your business. A successful omnichannel strategy depends on making sure that your retail management software integrates ecommerce, reporting, CRM, data warehousing, and mobile solutions that are appropriate for your model and goals.
Ian Goldman, President and CEO of Celerant Technology, is an expert software engineer and entrepreneurial enthusiast with an extensive knowledge of Point of Sale systems, CRM, and inventory management. He co-founded Celerant Technology in 1999 with the goal to offer the most efficient form of inventory management and POS systems for the retail industry. The core of Goldman’s philosophy in running the company is that any edge in the retail environment can help drive traffic to a storefront, generate more revenue and develop positive customer experiences. With Goldman at the helm, Celerant has grown exponentially, and become an industry leader in retail technology.
Prior to Celerant Technology, Goldman was the Co-Founder of Goldman Marcus – specializing in software solutions for small retailers. Goldman designed and developed software that is now utilized by many retailers throughout the nation. Goldman also served as a software engineer for Downstate Medical Center and Neuro-Imaging Research Corporation, where he designed complex neurological software for health-care.