We’ve all experienced the frustration of going to our favorite retailer in search of some product only to find it’s out of stock. Years ago, the store associate would be able to offer little insight into when the product might be in stock and we’d have little recourse.
Thankfully, retailers today have stepped up their games out of competitive necessity and are investing in technologies that can reduce out of stocks, give visibility into the location of inventory, and give customers multiple options to purchase and return items. This concept, of course, is known as omnichannel retailing and it’s a daunting undertaking for most retailers.
Omnichannel migration options aren’t easy decisions to make. Ripping out legacy systems (which might work perfectly fine except for the fact that they don’t grant the capabilities and data needed for this new model) can be expensive and cost-prohibitive for smaller retailers. The other option, upgrading software and systems where necessary and piecing together an omnichannel solution, requires considerable integration work that takes time and can also become costly.
Huge growth projected for omnichannel
Despite the challenges, the move to omnichannel must take place—and it is. According to a study conducted by Persistence Market Research, the global omnichannel market is expected to grow at a CAGR of nearly 20% from 2017 to 2025, reaching a market valuation of $15 billion. Clearly, the benefits must far outweigh the costs and challenges if so many are making the move.
A critical piece to their omnichannel puzzle is gaining control over the supply chain. This is where your conversation with customers should begin. Ask how your customers currently perform stock checks across their locations. Ask how they ensure their inventory levels are optimized for both regular times of year and seasonal surges. What data do they currently have and how are they using it to forecast?
As their trusted advisor, ask where they’re hoping to go with their customer experience and engagement, and then help them get there, whether it’s by planning a rip and replace or slowing integrating one piece at a time.
Take migration in easier phases
Depending on your customers’ needs and existing tech infrastructure, you might find yourself starting with a simple, yet effective barcoding solution that gives them better insight into the location and movement of inventory. Some might benefit from an upgrade to RFID. Ensure they have inventory management software that can forecast to ensure they have the right products in the right place at the right time. Finally, do your best to future-proof any investment your customers make. With the rapid rate of innovation, it’s critical that data from existing systems won’t be held captive and unusable in the future.
Thanks to the cutting-edge nature of retail technology and some early pioneers, you and your customers don’t have to guess at what works or adopt something unproven. Contact Daryl Schuster for guidance on how you can make your customers’ supply chain the first critical piece of an omnichannel migration.