NRF Bonus: Inventory Turf Wars

A big problem facing multichannel merchants is shared inventory–a point driven home to many marketers during this past holiday season. During a Jan. 23 panel closing out the National Retail Federation’s annual conference in New York, a question was posed: What should you do when your e-commerce business is depleting your retail inventory?

Patti Freman from Jupiter Research believes communication is the key. You have to know what each channel is doing and gather together the heads of each division at the retail and e-commerce levels so that they are all on the same page.

“We’re not very far along towards having foundations set up to be effective across multiple channels,” Freman said. Retailers need to ask the hard questions before they get to the point of contact with the customer.

“Start having cross-channel team meetings,” said Freman, “You will start to have conversations where someone says, Well if I did this, how will it affect you?”

Retailers need to emphasize organizational structure within the company, noted John McAteer, head of retail at Google. “Companies are now seeing Websites as a marketing vehicle, not only to sell products but to drive customers into the store.”

Pricing is also an issue and same price across channels was the No. 1 customer complaint, according to a study done by Jupiter Research. In today’s competitive race for consumer dollars, retailers need to be savvier about how they market their channels.