Omnichannel Inventory Management: Challenges and Opportunities

As shoppers demand more conveniences and flexibility when it comes to purchasing options, brands and retailers have to tackle what omnichannel truly means. One way we have seen retailers respond to changing shopper preferences is by greatly expanding click and collect options. For example, Walmart has grown from 200 locations in early 2016 to a projected 1,200 click and collect enabled locations by the end of 2017. 

omnichannel inventory management

Despite this growth, many brands continue to struggle to list accurate in store availability on retailer websites. PeaPod and Instacart allow shoppers to pre-select a substitute item, but that could negatively impact brand loyalty. For some items, such as fresh grocery, in-store availability can be difficult to track since not every item has a bar code or is tracked at the individual level. No matter the setbacks, shoppers expect the online shopping experience to match or exceed the in-store experience. The retailers and brands who will win in the future will be the ones who are quickest to adapt. Unless brands have the right data that gives them visibility into the omnichannel supply chain, these changes may leave them scrambling to keep up with increasingly complex supply chains.

WEBINAR: Avoiding “Click and Frustrate:” How Brands Can Address the Store-Based Distribution Challenge

Target has recently added in-store availability at the store-level  in the United States, and even displays which aisle shoppers can find that product. This data-rich experience shows that retailers are committed to closing these technology gaps. This puts pressure on brands to make sure they are not only stocked in all locations, but can give the retailer accurate stock level information.  In-store availability will also impact local search results, which can be a major problem for brands and an inconvenience for shoppers.

However, it’s not only availability which needs to be tracked, but portfolio as well. With more and more shoppers opting for click and collect, brands must make sure that the online offering matches the in-store portfolio.

Same-Day Delivery

Amazon created the industry standard 2-day delivery window, and Walmart has recently started offering it  for free on all orders. To stay ahead of shopper demands, Amazon has started to push the market to ever faster delivery times, including 1-2-hour delivery with Amazon Prime Now. This level of hyper-local delivery requires separate fulfillment centers and local runners. For brands this means that, in the case of Amazon, tracking the standard Amazon website is not enough. Portfolio and availability must also be meticulously tracked within the Prime Now environment. In today’s retail environment, brands must access data from across the spectrum to unlock granular insights into in-store, online, and mobile paths to purchase.

But with thousands of items being sold across hundreds of locations, how can any eCommerce team possibly track every issue?

Geo Location Based Tracking

Only Clavis Insight offers the solutions brands need to stay a step ahead of retailer and shopper driven change. Our Geo Location Based Tracking gives you daily insight into distribution and availability across all locations that are used as pick points for eCommerce shipping in your relevant key online channels. Using our Geo Location Based Tracking, you also get visibility to your products’ promotions across locations. Our detailed and up-to-date reports place full stock updates right at your fingertips, allowing brand managers to reduce the time spent on availability tracking across hundreds or thousands of locations.

In an omnichannel world where winning in-store means winning online (and vice versa), brands need to think of their online channel strategy and how to grapple with the rise of click and collect. In 2017 expect to continue to see the walls come down between brick and mortar and eCommerce as omnichannel inventory management leaps to the front of mind for brand managers all around the world.

John Neilson

John Neilson

John Neilson is the Global Head of Professional Services at Clavis Insight providing market research data and analysis to help global Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) manufacturers understand the eCommerce landscape. He has over 10 years of experience and expertise in the FMCG retail and insight industries.