For retailers competing in today’s online retail environment speed and cost are everything. Customers are putting constant pressure on companies to get products into their hands faster, at the lowest price, and with the least amount of shipping expense. While this sounds straightforward, it’s a difficult challenge for even the largest of retailers.
Despite the challenges, innovative companies are leaning into the use of data and real-time information as a foundation to tackling it head-on. From metrics to marketing and communication, getting the right information to the right person at the right time helps businesses to make smarter decisions faster while also keeping costs low.
One area where leading online retailers are investing their time and money is in real-time inventory management. At a basic level real-time inventory management enables companies to effectively stock and re-order products, identify potential delays that can impact customer satisfaction, staff operations more effectively, and identify potential revenue gaps among other things. Integrating real-time inventory management into an eCommerce business is a key step in remaining relevant and competitive in today’s digital marketplace.
What is Real-Time Inventory Management?
Real-time inventory management allows customers and employees to see the availability of products “in the moment” – the exact time when the information is needed to make a decision.
Benefits of Real-Time Inventory Management
Implementing a real-time inventory management system can be an expensive investment but the benefits can include:
- Avoiding both stock outages and excess inventory quicker than with a periodic inventory management system. By updating sales in real-time you’ll be able to effectively budget supply and demand of your products. Relying on periodic physical count of inventory is time-consuming and impacts the flow of operations. That delay, especially now that customers expect same day delivery, can significantly impact customer satisfaction.
- Enhancing the customer experience. A worst-case scenario is to have a ready, able, and willing buyer and lose them because of a stock outage. This not only effects immediate sales but can also negatively impact future sales with that customer and potentially whoever they choose to share the negative experience with.
- Operations efficiency. Implementing a real-time inventory system will typically leads to your warehouse becoming more organized and more effective.
- More accurate financial forecasting. For finance and accounting teams knowing exactly how much inventory is needed, at what times, and what’s left over gives them a complete picture of how the business is performing. Just estimating inventory levels could lead to a risk in profit reporting. Real-time inventory works to help catch errors immediately, so less time is wasted figuring out issues.
Having up-to-date accurate inventory is a must for competing retailers. By providing immediate visibility into your inventory you’ll be able to best serve your customers and keep them loyal.