omnichannel inventory management

Specialty retailers have experienced a range of challenges with inventory management, especially when expanding their omnichannel presence. The pandemic has made matters worse for two reasons: increased demand online and stockouts. Now that the economy is slowly picking up its pace, you can examine those challenges to see how they affected your business.

Omnichannel Inventory Management Challenges

Building your omnichannel presence is a journey that takes months to implement and years to perfect. It’s more than just building a website and expecting people to flood you with orders. Your success depends on a balance of marketing, customer service, and operations.

Traditional methods of inventory management tend to neglect a variety of issues related to the overall customer experience. These methods create challenges throughout your operations, but mostly with how you manage your inventory. Here’s a look at four common challenges and how you can overcome them.

1. Visibility

Your salespeople need to have real-time visibility of inventory when walking customers through their purchase options. Did you know that it’s just as important for online shoppers? Out of stock orders create enough distress to lose future sales and garner negative feedback. Your online system has to be integrated with your inventory management system. Suppose you can’t fill an online order right away. In that case, you need to have a notification system in place that creates visibility during an online purchase or presenting estimated delivery wait times. Notifications can also give customers the ability to cancel their order or offer substitutions quickly.

2. Channel Conflicts

Channel conflicts come from focusing on one channel over another, such as brick-and-mortar over online sales. Many of the systems in place already favor your physical store, which takes away from your online channel. You can overcome this by ensuring that all channels are fully integrated. Consolidating systems and processes will have a significant effect on inventory control and distribution. It will also improve order accuracy and tracking.

3. Technology

Investments in new technology will pay for themselves quickly because they can handle larger workloads and increase productivity. Your point of sale (POS) system should be integrated with inventory management and accounting to provide real-time data on nearly every aspect of your business.

4. Delivery

Because of market pressure and customer expectations, the new standards for on-time delivery have been set very high. Fast delivery is critical and can make or break a sale. Almost half of U.S. consumers expect next-day delivery for most items. They also expect multiple delivery options at reasonable prices. An integrated inventory management system is essential, but it has to be robust enough to handle shipping and billing for deliveries. Also, it would help if you looked into a variety of fulfillment services that provide delivery locally or throughout your region.

Investing in Technology to Exceed Expectations

Delivering the best customer experience is the key to a successful omnichannel presence. To keep up with your customers’ expectations, you’ll need an integrated system that uses the latest technology to cover every aspect of your business. This requires getting rid of all your manual entry systems, spreadsheets, and work orders.

Going completely digital will improve employee productivity and the overall accuracy of each sale. This strategy will also overcome many of the challenges you may have already experienced while building your omnichannel presence.