Customers are shopping everywhere: from online stores, marketplaces, apps to in-store purchases. That’s why 45% of leading retailers make building an omnichannel retail system their top priority. However, on the way to a complete omnichannel system, many encounter a big problem: How do I manage inventory in an omnichannel system? If orders are placed from multiple channels, how can I make sure that I don’t run out of stock?
Managing inventory for an omnichannel business is definitely not a piece of cake but there are a few tips to help you manage inventory across platforms better, so you no longer have to fear the red sign of “out of stock”.
The first thing you need to do is to fine-tune your inventory planning. Looking into your sales report for the same period in previous years to set up a baseline and identify any trends. What are the best-selling products during this time? What marketing campaigns or promotions did you run that drove sales?
Next, consider how your business has changed over the last year. Did you expand your current store or open a new one? Have you started selling online? Have you engaged more with your customers on social media? With the clear understanding of historical trends and changes in your business that may affect customer demand, you can make a better inventory plan for next periods.
Keeping track of orders and inventory levels is a key challenge for business owners who sell across multiple channels. Integration of your online stores, Point of Sale (POS) and inventory management system with real-time synchronization among them is the solution to this problem. When a customer buys an item online or in the store or through any other channels that you’ve included in the integrated system, the inventory level will be automatically updated on all channels. Real time synchronization also helps prevent overselling and order reconciliation.
Even if you have made an awesome inventory plan and set up a perfect real-time-synced system, it’s still possible that you’ll run out of stock for popular items, especially during holidays. Make sure you have communicated well with your suppliers in advance to know their lead time for reordering inventory (keep in mind that suppliers have seasonal rushes, too). Your inventory management system should let you set up alerts to notify you right when the inventory level of any items goes low and enables you to place purchase orders.
Also, keep your customers informed of when you expect to get more in stock. You may offer them a coupon code or free shipping when the item is back in stock to make them happy. Running out of stock may happen from time to time no matter how carefully you’ve prepared. However, with better planning and integrated systems in place, you will reduce the possibilities of seeing the red sign “Out of stock”
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