The emergence of omnichannel selling comes with a great deal of opportunities provided you avail it with utmost planning and preparation. Your potential customer is present across channels and may place orders with you online, in-store, over the phone, or through any marketplace, and your business needs to be prepared for an omnichannel incoming at all times. Deploying an omnichannel strategy for the sale of products and services demands the businesses to be truly omnipresent or your strategies will fall flat.
The first step in this direction is to record and track your inventory to ensure the timely fulfillment of customer demands. One of the major challenges that arise while doing so is that it can be tedious when manual methods are employed and may result in over/understocking, fulfillment delays, and impact the overall brand reputation. So, by extension a seamless inventory management stands at the core of an omnichannel selling process.
Modern-day Inventory management stands at building innovative ways to simplify processes and eliminate manual operations. These involve advanced capabilities to evaluate previous data and forecast future demand to avoid any under or overstocking situations. The inventory management approach as of today has evolved into becoming entirely customer-centric, that is, meeting customer’s demands timely, on a platform of their choice.
An efficient inventory management system is essential to ensure customer satisfaction and retention, and is the crux of a successful omnichannel strategy.
Inventory management sits at the heart of a successful omnichannel strategy of any business. And, doing it efficiently at any given point prepares you for any challenges and sets you apart from the competition.
A Unified View of Data
For any omnichannel strategy to function, distributors must know what they have in stock, where it is stored, and how much it is worth. To effectively meet the needs of a customer, brands must treat all of their channels as linked businesses, particularly when it comes to inventory management. They must have a clear grasp of sales data and other KPIs at every customer touchpoint, which requires fully integrating inventory data from across the channels onto a single panel.
When compared to a business with several branches and distribution hubs strategically distributed across regional or national service regions, inventory tracking for a single site is relatively simple. Regardless, both businesses require real-time data to properly and accurately manage inventory. They can respond to inventory constraints before it affects sales and cause delivery issues by having a single view-point across channels. To reach inventory nirvana, businesses need complete, accurate, and real-time insights across sales channels that further helps in taking accurate forecasting and management decisions.
Efficient Order Fulfillment Builds on Accurate Inventory Management
The order fulfillment processes today are mostly automated and that is one way to ensure that the customers get their orders on time regardless of the channel they chose to make the purchase. Automating the pick-pack-ship process to maximize operational efficiency will get the orders to customers’ doors faster, freeing up customer service and increasing the probability of returning customers. However, this won’t work without real-time inventory updates and complete stock visibility across sales channels. Hence, real-time inventory management is essential for efficient order fulfillment.
Ensure Optimal Stock Levels with Inventory Forecasting
This may be the most crucial aspect in achieving inventory optimization. Knowing what you have in stock and when it will run out will give you a better idea of how successfully your business is moving goods. Real-time inventory tracking ensures that you always are on top of things and know when you are running low on your products and raises the need to re-stock with the exact number of items you should purchase to be able to fulfill your back orders. This essentially prevents any misinformed overstocking and enables you to satisfy customer demands.
If you have understock, your inventory turnover ratio is likely to be high. Too much inventory can lead to a variety of concerns, including seasonal issues, changes in customer buying behavior, price issues, and so on. Stock levels must reflect supply and demand fluctuation, so leveraging data from all of your sales channels to improve purchasing predictions can help you avoid ordering too much or too little.
Inventory forecasting based on deep data analytics allows you to make more strategic decisions while optimizing your omnichannel inventory management, and smartly planning your inventory distribution across channels. Additionally, maintaining just the right amount of inventory based on accurate predictions allows you to free up as much working capital as possible and use it for other business purposes.
When dealing with multiple channels, the chances of messing up the inventory count are highly likely and it could disrupt your entire supply demand structure. And, matching the physical inventory count at the warehouse with that of the recorded inventory is not manually possible in case of multiple channels and warehouses. Therefore, proper inventory reconciliation ensures that any discrepancies are easily identified and managed.
This reconciled inventory also takes into account the returned inventory that qualifies to be listed back across the channels. A good cloud-based inventory management software can keep track of all the inventory and match it against the physical counterpart for any discrepancies.
For any business looking to scale their selling horizons across multiple sales channels, taking charge of inventory management is of utmost importance. You can’t think of omnichannel without a proper inventory management system in place and the first step in the direction of successful omnichannel selling is investing in a good cloud-based system.