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3 Ways Retailers Can Reap The Benefits Of Merged Inventory Management

Woman shopping with tablet in store

As savvy consumers continue to blur the lines between shopping channels, retailers may need to reinvent the flow of inventory information and how data is collected on customers’ habits and choices. Particularly, retailers should merge their online and store inventory information systems to better support omni-channel retailing operations.

An article on the StorefrontBacktalk website highlights three ways retailers can reinvent how they view inventory data and their processes to yield increased sales.

  1. Take advantage of all the information you gather: When customers use a smartphone app to scan product price tags, or search for an item on your ecommerce site, retailers can glean what shoppers are looking for. Information is important here. If through a loyalty program you could identify the customer and know that they were searching for a particular type of item, wouldn’t it be nice if the sales associate was aware of that and could search for that item, knowing the customer is currently in the store? It’s all a matter of capturing that information and then taking action on it.
  2. Recycle inventory: Prompting product upgrades is another method to push new inventory. Retailers can encourage customers to return older product models that can be refurbished and sold again. For this to work, retailers must have a system that alerts shoppers when the product they purchased reaches a certain age and the stores must have a streamlined process for the trade in. Retailers can’t simply take the item and resell it. Someone needs to examine the product, making sure it’s not damaged, repackage it and so on.  Obviously, this may not be a good strategy to undertake for a grocery store, but it makes a lot of sense for an appliance retailer.
  3. Bring in-store features online: Walmart has enabled customers to pay with cash for products purchased online. Here’s how it works: If a product isn’t available at the store, an associate suggests purchasing it online. The customer can then go to Walmart’s site, fill their cart and then choose cash as a payment option, but the customer must return to the store within 48 hours of the order to pay. The product is then shipped to the store or to the customer’s home.

    This could be made a tad bit easier for the customer. For example, the customer should be able to make a special order in-store at the POS and make payment in any form they’d like.  The customer could then be notified when the item is available and then choose to pick it up at the store or have it delivered to their home. The goal should always be to make the buying process as easy as possible for customers.

This article provides some great examples of what retailers can do with information. It’s great to capture information, but the key is to know how to use it. While a retail ERP system will collect information all day long, it’s not going to tell the retailer what to do with the data. It’s up to the retailer to construct a marketing, promotional campaign or customer friendly sales process around the information.

Source: StorefrontBacktalk, August 2013