Streamlining omnichannel retail with real-time inventory

real-time-inventory

Managing inventory (keeping track of what’s in stock) in real-time (instantly) is crucial for retailers to sell against their product assortment effectively. In the fast-paced world of omnichannel retail, the ability to harmonize inventory across various channels is not just a logistical necessity, but a strategic imperative. If you are a large retailer with distributed inventory and multifaceted sales channels, having multiple innovative tools to make inventory more available for your shoppers can help you differentiate your brand with a better customer experience. This is where real-time inventory management becomes pivotal.

Real-time inventory management

Old ways of keeping track of inventory often use slow technology, causing delays in knowing how much stock is available, and leading to problems like selling more than what is actually in stock (overselling) or missing sales opportunities because it seems like there’s not enough product (underselling). Traditional inventory systems are often marred by outdated technology such as batch processing. These outdated approaches to inventory systems create a lag in information flow and lead to scenarios such as overselling and underselling. Overselling happens when customers unexpectedly get their orders cancelled by the retailer, while underselling happens when customers are unable to purchase products and retailers face overstocking issues.

Problems with inventory for retailers can severely upset customers and hinder brand perception. Solutions that manage inventory in real-time help businesses keep track of their products in different places like warehouses or stores as soon as changes happen. Inventory service challenges are not just operational hiccups but critical barriers that impede customer satisfaction and business growth. Due to these problems, retailers typically turn to real-time omnichannel inventory management solutions for the ability to view and manage stock levels and inventory transactions across all inventory systems, including warehouse management system (WMS), point of sale (POS) system, or enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, in real-time as changes occur.

Managing inventory in real-time is a smart strategy for businesses that sell in multiple channels online and in stores. It meets customers’ needs for quick and convenient shopping, making the shopping experience better and more enjoyable. Real-time inventory management is not just a technological upgrade; it’s a strategic tool for omnichannel retailers. It aligns with the modern consumer’s expectations for immediacy and convenience, facilitating a shopping experience where items are consistently available to purchase. Retailers looking to elevate their inventory management and enhance customer experience should choose a real-time inventory solution that offers a robust, practical, and user-friendly approach.

Differentiating your approach to serving omnichannel inventory

An ideal real-time inventory system should connect directly with sales channels, without requiring outdated processing steps. Retailers can use real-time inventory interfaces directly from their online stores and point-of-sale to enable a seamless customer journey.

For example, fabric directly connects our composable inventory module with sales channels, bypassing traditional intermediaries such as commerce inventory databases or batch jobs. Our retailers can invoke fabric APIs in real-time to load their digital touch-points such as storefronts and point of sale systems. This approach ensures scalable and accurate inventory updates, crucial for the dynamic nature of today’s retail environments. It eliminates the need for custom inventory caching systems and batch updates, enhancing operational efficiency.

Real-time inventory management opens up a range of practical applications.

  • Optimize inventory exposure to specific sales channels through self-service channel optimization. Inventory exclusion parameters and safety stock thresholds allow retailers to exercise control over inventory distribution across brands, geographies, and selling channels.
  • Improve inventory availability with multi-source fulfillment, which allows users to sell against dropship inventory in cases where on-hand or in-transit inventory is not available. This capability is particularly useful for reducing out-of-stock situations and improving overall conversion rates.
  • Replace high-latency inventory calls with fabric’s ultra-fast platform to serve your storefront in real-time for better page speeds, with the option to only utilize fabric inventory without sunsetting existing systems.

Conclusion

Modern selling is about making shopping easy. Modern retailers should strive to streamline their inventory processes by providing quick updates everywhere: Online, in stores, on marketplaces, and on social media. At fabric, the core of our real-time inventory service is designed specifically for omnichannel retailers looking to manage many inventory pools, geographies, or brands from a single system that offers ultra-fast, real-time updates across all sales channels.

To discover more about how our real-time inventory solution can revolutionize your retail strategy, we welcome you to reach out for more information or join us at NRF 2024 for a firsthand demonstration.

Mustafa Masud

Senior Product Manager @ fabric. Previously Digital Product Manager @ Bed, Bath, & Beyond.


Topics: Product
Written by Mustafa Masud

Senior Product Manager @ fabric. Previously Digital Product Manager @ Bed, Bath, & Beyond.

Learn more about fabric