Jamie Cairns, Chief Strategy Officer, Fluent Commerce
Why better inventory data means happier customers
2023 has brought new challenges for retailers with supply chain issues and consumers cutting back on spending with the rise of inflation and the cost of living.
If retailers are to not only survive, but thrive, they must improve inventory data and visibility. Having the right product in the right place at the right time and being able to show your customer this availability in real time is crucial. This will help avoid overstocking and losing money spent to purchase excess inventory. Knowing when to order, how much to order and where to store stock will become even more important. Better inventory data will allow retailers much better insight into these questions.
In a report, ‘Top Holiday Shopper Trends 2022’ which surveyed 4041 respondents across the U.S, the UK, Germany and Australia, 68% of consumers said it would damage their view of the retailer if they went to purchase an item and it wasn’t actually in stock when it said it was online. It is unlikely retailers will get a second chance with their customers if they have disappointed them and a competitor is waiting in the wings ready to fulfill that order.
However, knowing what stock you have and where it is, is a big challenge for retailers. Most rely on data coming from their ERP system, the inventory master, but these systems struggle to keep inventory continuously updated based on transactions throughout the day. Updates are made in batches which leads to lags and inaccuracies. These result in customers purchasing items no longer available (overselling) or customers not being able to purchase items that are available but not visible (underselling).
Fortunately, there is technology available that can provide better inventory data and visibility, processing hundreds of millions of inventory updates, at speed where previously this number was in the thousands. Fluent Big Inventory has been developed for this purpose and is the only product of its kind on the market today.
Here are a few ways in which better inventory data and visibility not only means more sales for retailers, but happier customers:
- No more cancelled orders
One of the most expensive scenarios a retailer can go through is when a shopper buys a product and finds out later that it is no longer in stock, cancelling their order.
Cancelled orders are a huge problem for retailers. Not only do they have to process a refund, but it’s a customer experience killer and a huge blow to their reputation.
Better inventory data enables retailers to only sell stock that is available. Similarly, customers can also see what stock is available to buy and where it is. This results in less time processing cancelled orders and fewer calls to the retailer’s customer service team. Staff are also able to solve customer service problems more easily, saving time and cost in their call centres.
- Returned goods can be sold again, faster
If a retailer’s system takes a few days to update inventory when goods are returned, that’s lost time that products are available to buy again from potential customers.
When a retailer can update inventory data quickly, when goods are returned, those goods are then available to sell again, much faster. Better inventory data means more customers can buy.
- Reduced operational costs
A retailer with inventory visibility is always capable of reducing the amount of time that products sit on the shelves.
When your business does not have extra inventory for extended periods of time, the inventory costs get lowered. You don’t need to pay for additional warehouse space to store stock.
- Increased advertising ROI
A retailer can use inventory data to determine which products are advertised. This means that the experience of clicking on an advert online, to find out later the item is no longer available, is avoided. This results in happier customers and less wasted advertising spend.
As discussed, customer satisfaction is largely dependent on the quality, accuracy and speed of inventory data. Interested to learn more? Watch this webinar with Fluent Commerce to understand how a real-time view of inventory helps retailers not only react quickly to changing consumer behaviour, ultimately selling more, but it improves the customer’s experience, keeping them coming back.