Real time inventory management with a unified commerce platform
2021 is here and – like every year – retailers around the world are striving to improve efficiency, increase productivity and reduce costs.
CX and digital transformation are top of the agenda as many retailers fight to bounce back from the impact of COVID-19. One silver-lining from 2020 was the acceleration of digitalization across the industry and the host of benefits it’s brought with it.
Chief among these is the power digital technology has to transform inventory management. In order to exceptional CX, one of the most important aspects retailers have to get right is inventory management. Bad inventory management will quickly see disappointed customers, frustrated store associates, and disillusioned store managers. It’s a recipe for disaster.
Good inventory management, on the other hand, has the power to transform your business. Increasingly, retailers across the globe are now moving beyond their ERP system in a bid to improve their inventory management.
This is where real-time data and a unified commerce platform come in. With a cloud-native unified commerce platform, stocktaking has never been easier and allows you to manage incoming deliveries, outgoing shipments and inventory directly from a mobile device.
So, as well as revolutionizing the in-store experience, a unified commerce platform will transform your inventory management.
1. It allows real-time retail to happen
With a single real-time view of all in-store, online and ‘elsewhere’ inventory and built-in inventory management tools, a unified commerce platform makes it easier for you to improve accuracy, maximize inventory availability and minimize excess inventory. Unified stock allows you to optimize stock flows and deliver on all omnichannel scenarios to provide your customers with a unified shopping experience.
Since traditional POS systems don’t communicate in real-time with your other systems then you’re not getting one, true view between your stores and online. It’s a problem store associates face everyday. Sure, they can check stock levels in another store but they have no real idea if it’s accurate which leads to a lack of trust in the system. The same applies to customers. They can check stock online but, because it’s not real-time data, there’s no guarantee it’s accurate.
By eliminating the role of the ERP of being the master of stock in inventory management – where constraints are put on the ‘omni-flow’ – you can take a giant leap forward to delivering true real-time retail.
As Elin Ekvall, Chief Commercial Officer at By Malene Birger, says: “Since we began using a unified commerce platform, we have much greater visibility of our stock so we can see what’s moving, where it’s moving and react accordingly. From a customer experience it feels like a premium, super slick, seamless system and experience.”
2. It gives stores back their autonomy
Somewhere along the line retail lost its way. Go back to market stalls at the start of the 20th century and they’d all know who their customers were, what they ordered, how much product they had in stock and how long it would take for stock to be replenished if they didn’t have anything. On the hyper-local and pop-up level, this still exists today but has been lost in larger retailers.
Through centralized models, retail has stripped away the power of individual stores. Using a unified commerce platform for inventory management can radically improve this. Power is given back to your stores and they become the master of the stock. Your stores are where everything happens and, by putting control of stock back into the hands of stores, it’s easier for them to calculate what they need and when they need it as well as stock they don’t need. Using a cloud-native unified commerce platform with a POS as a native app means your stores can carry out smaller, rolling inventory checks through the POS app, saving huge amounts of time, making it easier to see what’s needed and making everything easier to keep track of.
By giving stores back their autonomy, they will have full control over their store stock and, even more importantly, the customer experience.
3. It empowers store associates
This autonomy extends to your associates. Today, your store associates can check stock levels in a traditional POS system but the information might not be correct due to two major factors: 1) it’s not real-time data, 2) stock taking is in many cases, due to the amount of work, only done once or twice a year. With access to all stocks and much greater trust in the accuracy of the levels presented to them, store associates are more empowered and, as a result, will perform better and provide a better service.
A unified commerce platform also simplifies inventory management for your store associate saving them huge amounts of time. The time saving means your store associates can spend more time with your customers and being your brand champions. They are happier and your customers are happier – a huge benefit to your business. Everyone wins.
4. It helps optimize stock
If something is out of stock, your customers won’t purchase anything at all. By optimizing your stock levels you can increase your conversion rates while ensuring your customers are happy. This happens in two-ways; firstly, your stores will have real-time access to – and be able to sell from – all stocks, both online and from different stores. This means stores can fulfill straight away and the customer gets what they want. Secondly, you’ll be able to ensure your most popular items are never out of stock.
This can only happen with a cloud-native unified commerce platform. With pen and paper or batch file transfers, it’s impossible to get a true real-time view of stock levels. With a cloud based platform, everything is also up to date and gives you a true picture of stock levels across all stores at any given time. Real-time data gives you the possibility to have automated replenishment if this kind of functionality is beneficial to your stores.
5. It’s cost effective
As well as saving time by using a unified commerce platform for inventory management, you’ll also save money. Because everything is run from the same native app you won’t have to invest in specialized hardware – it can all happen through a smartphone or a tablet. Your store associates use their smartphones to control all functions of their lives and, increasingly, they are also using them in a work setting giving more weight behind the argument of them using them in-store for work functions like inventory management.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The technology behind RFID is becoming more proven and scalable and is set to be another game changer when it comes to more efficient inventory management.
A cloud-native unified commerce platform will improve your inventory management by:
- Saving you time and money.
- Giving you full visibility of and accessibility to all your stock in real-time.
- Optimizing your stock and minimizing excess inventory.
- Allowing you to manage incoming deliveries, outgoing shipments, stocktaking and cycle counts from the POS app on a mobile device.
- Empowering your associates and giving them the power to provide a better experience for your customers.
If you’d like to learn more about how a unified commerce platform with a cloud-native POS can transform your inventory management and prepare your retail business for the future we’d love to talk to you.
You can contact us here