Inventory has far-reaching implications – impacting margins and profitability, fulfillment timeframes and customer service. Inventory costs have risen every year since 2012 with most retailers and distributors still struggling to have the right SKU in the right place, in the right quantity and at the right time to meet the demands of their customers.
Rising Consumer Expectations
As consumer expectations and requirements continue to increase, the need for real-time visibility and access to product and customer information has also grown exponentially. Companies realize that the process of offering customers the ability to shop anywhere and fulfill anywhere is complex as technology and consumer behaviors continue to evolve. A new model is necessary to succeed, and the new model requires an unprecedented level of agility. The key to profitability and competitive advantage is to map out a comprehensive, customer-centric strategy and vigorously execute against the plan.
Importance of Real-Time Retail
Real-time retail – the ability to instantly identify the customer and gather, analyze, and disseminate customer, product, pricing and inventory data across channels – is imperative to improving customer engagement. Without real-time data, any information provided internally and externally is out-of-date and therefore risks being inaccurate and out of context.
It is impossible to accurately manage and optimize inventory across the supply chain without real-time enterprise inventory visibility. Many organizations can check inventory, but the inventory data they are able to access is from yesterday (the rearview mirror), versus the real-time data required for an enhanced customer experience (right now). Companies that leverage a unified commerce platform can access all inventory available to promise (ATP) across the retail enterprise in real time (stores, distribution centers, suppliers, and third-party logistics providers).