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June 19, 2017
The estimated time to read this article is 4 Minutes

Why your Inventory Should be Visible at All Times

Showing customers what you have in stock, and where you have it, is a tactic that has proven to increase sales; Research by Forrester has found that 41% of retailers have seen a positive impact on sales after enabling inventory visibility.  In the digital age, customers want certainty and reliability while shopping online. They want to be sure that the product they are about to order is actually in stock and will be delivered to them within a certain timeframe. That is why inventory visibility is important. But how does it work, and is it really that necessary?

Inventory Visibility: An Easy Choice for Customers

Shopping online has changed the way people decide on where to buy products. Instead of going to the nearest store, 81% of shoppers do online research before making a purchase. It is therefore important that the information they are looking for is available at all times. Customers decide whether to buy a product based on several criteria. For them, one of the most important criteria is to be able to see if the product they order will be available to them within a certain timeframe.  This means that shops that show their delivery times have an advantage towards those who don’t! Let us give you three examples of how pure players, as well as omnichannel shops, may provide the right inventory visibility.

Show Delivery Times

While ordering online, customers want to know how long it will take for the product to be delivered to them. You may choose to show your customers two types of information. First, if all you can show how many items you still have in stock. This can ensure customers that they will not have to wait for their products for too long. However, most shops choose to show their delivery times instead. After all, this is what people are looking for. Depending on the products you are selling, having a fast delivery time will persuade customers to buy at your shop. Even if your delivery times are longer, show your customer. They might not need the product right away and therefore choose your webshop after all.

If you are an omnichannel player, you could also include the option of delivering products in a store. Show the appropriate delivery times per channel. If a product is already available in store, customers might choose to pick up their product of choice right away.

Picking up or Sending Items?

In showing your inventory you can include in which stores people can find certain products. There is a growing trend of customers preferring in-store pick up rather than home deliveries. This provides a higher level of convenience and eliminates the risk of orders getting lost or stolen. Therefore customers go to the store and physically buy the product there. Giving customers the option to pickup goods will give them a sense of control, the ability to save on shipping costs and the opportunity to ask face-to-face questions about the product to staff. Also, recent ICSC research shows that 69% of customers coming to a store, buy more goods while they are there. Omnichannel inventory visibility is a win-win for all parties involved.

The same rhetoric can be applied the other way around. People that are in a store, might not be able to find the product that they are looking for. In that case, they might want to see when a product will be available again, or if they can have it delivered at home.

Inventory Visibility for Customers and Associates

In order to provide customers with information about delivery times, store associates should be able to have access to inventory numbers at all times. If a store runs out of stock, an employee might find out where products are located: in other stores or even in the distribution center. Digital in-store inventory management systems are increasingly used to provide this service.

Choosing the right system is key

In 2017 inventory visibility will become an important strategy, as omnichannel retail strategies are becoming more popular. You can be ahead of your competitors by making your inventory visible, as only 46% of retailers plan to do so over the next year.

The only way to realize a solid inventory visibility system is by adopting the right technology. A good OMS or ERP solution can help you out. A solid system is easy to use, intuitive and accessible throughout multiple channels. In order to never disappoint customers, stock needs to be tracked in real-time and visible at all times. Want to know more? Contact us, we’d love to tell you more!

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