Building competitive advantage via real-time inventory management

Today, customer demands for faster, cheaper, and more reliable fulfillment options have prompted retailers to upgrade linear order fulfillment models.
Sachin Sharma
Senior VP, Commerce, Kibo Commerce
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Retailers are upgrading fulfillment and inventory management.

Today, customer demands for faster, cheaper, and more reliable fulfillment options have prompted retailers to upgrade linear order fulfillment models to more sophisticated and flexible approaches supported by next-generation inventory management and order routing solutions. 

Flexible fulfillment strategies rely on real-time inventory management and order routing capabilities that provide a synchronized and dynamic approach to inventory and order fulfillment. By continuously monitoring inventory levels using real-time data, retailers can make data-driven decisions on where and how to fulfill each order, ensuring efficient utilization of inventory and resources.

For retailers who are using omnichannel retail strategies for order management, this real-time visibility empowers them to track multiple orders across the supply chain concurrently. Real-time inventory management and order routing tools deliver a range of benefits: streamlined order fulfillment, cost savings, and the ability to provide better customer service.

From an operational perspective, retailers are better able to scale quickly, which ultimately drives increased revenue and better efficiencies. 

Improving inventory accuracy

When retailers consolidate inventory information into a unified system, they eliminate data silos to create a single source of truth, meaning all stakeholders have access to the same accurate, complete, and up-to-date information. 

Using real-time inventory management capabilities, retailers can monitor stock levels, track inventory movement, and receive automated updates on inventory status. They can also identify discrepancies, address issues quickly, and maintain accurate inventory records across locations. 

Full visibility empowers retailers to proactively monitor stock levels against sales demand and adjust replenishment plans accordingly. When retailers keep inventory levels optimized, they prevent the lost sales opportunities associated with stockouts, as well the holding costs incurred when storing overstocked items.

Furthermore, by analyzing historical sales data, customer behavior, and market trends, they can align procurement with anticipated demand, which improves inventory accuracy. 

Streamlining order fulfillment 

By consolidating order routing information across channels and locations into a centralized system, retailers can eliminate manual processes and reduce errors. Using automation, they can decrease labor costs and improve operational efficiencies.

Real-time inventory management and order routing tools enable retailers to strategically allocate inventory based on location, demand patterns, and shipping costs. They can also route the order to the most suitable location for fulfillment by analyzing proximity to the customer, stock availability, and inventory replenishment capabilities, which improves efficiencies and lowers costs. 

When all inventory data is readily accessible, retailers can quickly determine product availability and validate orders against stock levels. Because they can synchronize inventory data in real time, retailers can issue order confirmations faster and reduce the chance of lost sales associated with overselling and other fulfillment errors. 

Because real-time inventory management and order routing solutions collect and analyze comprehensive order data, retailers can better understand customer preferences, seasonality, and market dynamics to reduce excess stock and align allocation decisions with anticipated demand.  

Building competitive advantage

Real-time inventory management and order routing systems enable seamless integration of inventory across sales channels, including physical stores, online platforms, and mobile apps. This integration allows retailers to offer features like buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS), ship-from-store, and in-store returns for online purchases.

By utilizing inventory from different locations to fulfill orders, retailers can optimize inventory utilization and leverage their omnichannel capabilities to differentiate from competitors who may struggle to provide a seamless shopping experience across channels. 

Retailers can also leverage captured data to gain valuable insights into customer preferences, buying patterns, and market trends. Applying these insights, retailers can make data-driven decisions regarding product assortment, pricing strategies, promotional campaigns, and inventory planning. When retailers can anticipate customer requirements, they build advantage over competitors that rely on legacy inventory management and order routing systems. 

When retailers have a real-time holistic view of inventory, they build the agility needed to respond to demand fluctuations, market anomalies, and supply chain disruptions faster and more effectively. They can adjust inventory levels, shift stock between channels or locations, and optimize allocation based on real-time data. This agility allows retailers to meet customer demands promptly, reduce lead times, and seize opportunities faster than competitors who lack these capabilities. 

Keeping pace with innovations in omnichannel retailing requires real-time inventory management and order routing capabilities that provide full visibility into inventory levels across channels and optimize fulfillment. These advantages enable retailers to improve inventory management, increase customer satisfaction, and stay ahead of competitors in a dynamic and competitive retail landscape. 


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