Multichannel Inventory Management – All You Need to Know
Customer satisfaction has always been the holy grain for businesses, especially those belonging to the retail and FMCG niche. And, with time, customer expectations have evolved; today’s Gen-Z customers are looking forward to being delighted, to receive hyper-personalized, seamless, and hassle-free shopping experiences. Given their inclination towards multiple device usage, retail brands have to gear up their multichannel shopping offerings.
Multichannel sales layout means multichannel inventory management too. Retailers have to manage inventory for their ins-tore operations along with product catalogs on online marketplaces, eCommerce platforms, web stores, etc. Inventory being at the core of all retail operations, managing inventories across online and offline platforms must be approached in a multifaceted manner.
What is Multichannel Inventory Management?
Multichannel inventory management can be defined as the process wherein businesses account for and track orders from various sales sources on inventory that is stored at multiple locations, such as marketplaces, eCommerce, retail, and wholesale. Inventory data will be required by several operational units across the business, from customer-facing teams to warehouse management teams. And, how the multichannel inventory data is made available across the business processes holds crucial implications. It is also imperative to maintaining a competitive edge internally that translates into a consistent, seamless, and personalized customer experience externally.
What are the inventory management challenges?
Well, customers would like to view a product on the brand web store or app, read up customer reviews, and may place the order on another device. They would expect the order fulfillment to be done within a reasonable timeframe. And, in case the product is not up to par in terms of features, quality, and other aspects, they would want the return/cancellations as well as refunds to happen in a hassle-free manner. And, robust order fulfillment begins with efficient inventory management across multiple channels.
While many businesses may rely on spreadsheets to keep a tab on the incoming, and outgoing inventory, and other aspects, the process gets daunting while dealing with inventory from multiple sources.
And, there are an additional set of challenges too in terms of multiple sales channels, distribution options, disparate systems being used for managing inventory information as well as the interfacing between these systems.
Sales Channels – Being available across all the sales channels that your prospective customers leverage is great. But with it comes the onus of human errors, disparate inventory data as well as inadequately managed inventories.
Distribution Options – From wholesalers to retailers to 3PLs, brands have a plethora of distribution channels at their disposal. However, unifying operations and forging alignment among all of these channels, can be a tough nut to crack.
Disparate Systems – Brands need to establish greater alignment among their eCommerce outlets, inventory management systems, and finance/accounting systems. And, without a readily, and efficiently integrable inventory management system, the alignment is difficult to achieve.
How an Inventory Management System Can Help?
Inventory management systems play a pivotal role, especially from the multichannel management aspect. Here are some of the key ways they can help businesses craft their success story.
- An inventory management system can help the operations managers to set SMART inventory KPIs and take corrective measures to streamline business processes and enhance efficiency.
- Purchasing managers can leverage the inventory management system to ascertain how much and how often to replenish the inventories across the multiple sales channels.
- Warehouse managers can readily identify the exact location of the inventories and their states and assign relevant tasks to the warehouse staff accordingly.
- Retailers can gain deeper, actionable insights into customer expectations, purchase behaviours, etc., and cater to them in an easy, efficient, and hassle-free manner.
- Finance teams can check the inventory cash amount and ascertain how quickly it’s being turned over.
Here are some key features you need to watch out for while weighing your options regarding a robust, resilient, and scalable inventory management system.
- Forecasting sales – This feature enables businesses to leverage historical data to forecast future sales
- Location Functionality – Helps to tag inventory based on the geographical location
- Real-time Updates – Essential for optimizing warehouse operations and to ensure greater customer delight
- Barcode Scanning
Inventory Control Best Practices
Inventory control techniques are essential for helping businesses in ascertaining an equilibrium between the incoming, and outgoing stock, measurement, inventory forecasting, and constant optimization of processes. This is essential for ensuring that an adequate level of inventory is always available across the sales outlets, perishable inventories are sold out on-time, to minimize inventory damage, loss, and theft.
Some of the key inventory control techniques include:
- First In First Out
- Maintaining Par Levels of Inventory
- ABC Analysis
- Regular audits
- Sales Forecasting
Multichannel Inventory Management KPIs
Businesses can leverage SMART KPIs to ensure that their multichannel inventory management endeaours are on track.
Here are some of the key KPIs to consider.
- Inventory Turnover Rate
- Cost of Carrying Inventory
- Inventory Accuracy
- Put Away Time
Vin eRetail from Vinculum is a cutting-edge, robust, and highly scalable inventory management solution from Vinculum, which enables an automated, centralized, unified view of inventory across multiple channels, fulfillment centers, and systems.
Some of the key capabilities of Vin eRetail include:
- Inventory View, and Handling – Inventory segregation, regular inventory rotation, automated inventory replenishment, virtual bundling, inventory adjustment, etc.
- Marketplace inventory Listing – Centralized multichannel inventory view, automated inventory update, inventory reconciliation, and full compliance
- Barcoding & unique serial tracking
- Inbound Functions – Purchase order management, Advanced Shipping Note Management, defective inventory segregation
- Batch inventory management
- Outbound Functions – Stock transfers, inter-company inventory moves, gate-pass management, 30+ pre-integrated shipping partners, etc.
For further insights, do connect with the experts at Vinculum today!
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