How can you get more sales and profits from your inventory investment? Rather than viewing it as a clerical function, we have found as we work with multichannel retailers that managing inventory has become a strategic issue greatly affecting profitability.
There has been a sea change in retail and omnichannel shipping has increased sales and customer service. Shipping from stores and as well as distribution centers has dramatically decreased time to customer and increased competition for the sale. However, managing inventory from many different shipping points has increased complexity significantly. Walmart has almost 11,000 stores and DCs, while Amazon has a DC within 20 miles of 44% of the U.S. population.
Additionally, options like ship from store/ship to store have made inventory control systems customer-facing applications rather than just back-office systems.
It is imperative to have accurate online inventory and availability as well as in-store access to customer orders to process, pick and ship, etc. Unique product is still number one but service is becoming the great differentiator.
Inventory is often the largest balance sheet asset and product assortments have grown dramatically. Identifying the optimal inventory level by product maximizes sales and minimizes overstocks. Many companies are undertaking SKU rationalization to become more profitable and understand what products should be eliminated from the assortment.
All this makes managing inventory a strategic issue. In our experience helping hundreds of companies implement inventory control applications and better manage inventory, here are a few of the issues we find they need to change:
- Does your team have the necessary performance metrics to profitably manage inventory?
- How can your inventory planning and purchasing systems be streamlined?
- Are your inventory systems and customer-facing applications getting the sale and delivering effective customer service?
- How can time-to-customer and shipping costs be reduced?
- How can inventory management organization be more effective?
To assist you to manage inventory more effectively, you can download “23 Ways to Improve Inventory Management” by clicking here.
Note: This is the second of four installments on ways to reduce costs, increase productivity and improve customer service in multichannel businesses. Last week we posted “38 Ways to Improve Your Fulfillment Operations.” In the next two weeks we will offer recommendations on improving contact center and information technology. In total this will give you over 70 ways to improve multichannel performance. These are time-tested ways our clients have implemented to increase performance.
Next week look for 9 Ways to Improve Your Contact Center Operations.
Curt Barry is president of F. Curtis Barry & Co.