While you can’t achieve perfect inventory overnight, you can learn and implement strategies to make your inventory management more effective. Start by exploring recent inventory management trends that can help lower operating costs and improve your processes.
1. Multi-channel inventory management solutions
Nowadays, retailers are rarely present in only one sales channel—they’re practically everywhere! They have multiple brick-and-mortar locations and are on Amazon, Shopify, Etsy, and other e-commerce channels. If you’re doing the same, how do you manage your inventory? How do you update multiple listings when you have a single source of stocks?
Fortunately, multi-channel inventory management solutions have become popular. With a central database of available products across multiple channels, inventory management solutions can pull each sale from the same inventory. They provide accurate inventory data in real time and automatically update multiple listings whenever a sale is made. That reduces the risk of human error while increasing the efficiency of your stock management.
2. Predictive product picking using artificial intelligence
When it comes to inventory management, the challenge lies in keeping an optimal inventory level for each product. So if stock-outs or overstocking is usually an issue for your shop, you should try the latest trend called predictive product picking. Using artificial intelligence (AI), some inventory management solutions use advanced systems that process past sales data to recognize buying patterns and behaviors and predict products that will be in high demand. Other solutions can even integrate variables like season and marketing campaigns with sales data to determine near-perfect forecasts of customer orders for a certain sales period.
With the help of AI, you can refine your inventory forecasting and strike a perfect balance between avoiding stock-outs and reducing carrying or storage costs for too many stocks.
3. E-commerce personalization & its impact on inventory control
E-commerce personalization isn’t just about knowing your customers’ names. It’s also about knowing their buying behaviors, so you can help them find new products easily. And how does that impact your inventory control? If integrated with real-time analytics, e-commerce personalization can enhance your demand forecasting & stock replenishment. You will know which products are more than likely to be bought by certain demographics.
Additionally, merging e-commerce personalization with inventory control can help you track other crucial data. These include fluctuations in supply costs during specific sales periods. You’ll also likely identify suppliers that routinely fall short of their service level agreements. Such data can help elevate customer experience and boost sales in all your retail shops.
4. Seamless management of returned products
Dealing with product returns is typical when running retail shops. But the need to manage product returns further increases with the rise of online shopping. So without proper systems to track and restock returned products, you and your staff might face an inventory nightmare. This is where seamless and robust warehouse management systems can be a huge help.
A robust warehouse management system (WMS) does beyond helping your staff pick, pack, and ship. It also helps sort returns and determines products that can be moved back into inventory. It automates and expedites processes to track such movements efficiently. But keep in mind that seamless management of returned products works hand-in-hand with the right return policy. So make sure to review your return policy as well.
5. Resilient supply chains for improved dependability
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged many traditional business processes. For instance, travel restrictions during the height of the pandemic crippled many supply chains and warehouses, forcing retail shops to innovate and decentralize the way they store and move their stocks. That trend of creating more resilient supply chains has stayed and even changed the way retail shops do their business today. So if you want to avoid stock-outs and failed order fulfillment, consider utilizing systems and technologies that help decentralize supply chains.
Multi-warehousing is one effective decentralizing method. It eliminates the need to depend heavily on one region, making your retail operations more nimble and dependable. But how can you manage stocks in multiple warehouses seamlessly? Use WMS or enterprise resource planning (ERP) software that integrates or supports multi-warehousing tracking.