The retail sector is under greater pressure than ever. With consumer expectations growing and greater competition from large competitors like Amazon, businesses will have to turn to the latest technology in order to keep up with competitors and provide the level of service today's customers expect. And one area that needs particular focus is inventory management.

There are many problems that can be caused by poor inventory management. Not having an accurate stock count not only leaves firms at greater risk of disappointing customers if the desired items are out of stock, but can also lead to the opposite problem of over-ordering, leaving firms with little choice but to offer heavy discounts in order to prevent overstock taking up valuable space.

A physical retail store with shelves full of stock that is being tracked.

 

It can also leave firms struggling to detect issues such as shoplifting or employee theft. Therefore, having the right technology tools to take back control of inventory is essential.

 

Ensuring Faster Fulfilment

One of the key reasons for investing in inventory management tools is to improve the pace of order fulfilment. This is especially vital for e-commerce businesses, as customers will expect goods to be dispatched as soon as possible after their order is completed. If inventory management tools aren't integrated with online shopping platforms, companies may end up disappointing users by selling stock they don't yet have, without informing them of any delays.

However, it's not just online businesses where modern inventory management tools are useful. This technology is also highly valuable for bricks-and-mortar stores. Having the right technology gives retailers much better visibility into their stock levels both on the shelves and in warehouses. Combining monitoring and analytics tools with technology such as RFID chips and scanners can give a much more accurate picture of stock levels.

This can not only ensure businesses can be more proactive about replenishments, but also provide valuable insights into which SKUs are performing well at which times, and even see how the positioning of items throughout the store affects their sales.

As businesses grow, these tools are essential with managing the challenges created by increased scale. As the number of SKUs a business offers increases, it will become ever more challenging to keep track of all of them using traditional methods.

Therefore, smart management tools that can track product movements and stock levels across every SKU and location in a single, easy-to use system, gives businesses the visibility and control they need to make their growth strategy a success.

An organised warehouse with all inventory SKUs being tracked using smart management tools.

 

Giving Consumers the Experience they Expect

Another key benefit of improved inventory management is in delivering the level of customer experience today's consumers expect.

For instance, inventory management tools are critical to the success of any omnichannel strategy, which is a service every successful retailer will be expected to offer in today's environment and needs to cover physical, online and hybrid platforms.

Click-and-collect in the UK is expected to be worth also £10 billion by 2023, according to analytics firm GlobalData - a 45.8% increase from 2018.

To make this a success, inventory management tools will be essential in identifying where items are located, where they need to be shipped to and if they need to be especially ordered. It also ensures that when consumers arrive to pick up their goods, employees can quickly find the right items.

Elsewhere, inventory management software is also vital in giving staff the tools they need to better serve customers. So, for example, if a fashion retailer doesn't have the right size or colour item in stock, an associate could use a tablet on the shop floor to see where it is available and arrange for it to be shipped directly to the customer, or sent to the store.

These are just some of the benefits that can be enjoyed with an efficient, modern inventory management system, which can lead to overall lower costs, greater productivity and a better ability to plan for the future.

A critical component of omnichannel retail success is ensuring the right tools are used in physical stores. Read more about how mobile tools are transforming the retail space.