When it comes to managing their bricks and clicks operations, many retailers still maintain distinctly siloed inventories: one for eCommerce, one for physical stores.
If you are taking this approach, it is almost certainly killing the sales potential of your business.
Whereas integrating your inventory management across your online and bricks and mortar channels will:
- Increase your online and in-store revenue
- Grow your brand’s online reach
- Drive more visits to your bricks and mortar store
- Allow you to minimise stockouts and deliver products more quickly
The outdated approach: siloed inventories
Very quickly, here’s how the majority of retailers manage their stock: one warehouse solution for eCommerce, another for physical stores.
Often, the online site only offers a limited selection of the company’s total product catalogue.
It is understandable why many retailers adopt this model: it’s an easy way to confidently control and display the stock that’s available for purchase on your website. There’s no risk of selling the same stock twice and, in theory, it’s a less complicated system.
However, there are two major problems here:
1. Having limited online stock options will alienate shoppers
2. The use of ‘online-only inventory’ leads to lost sales
Limited online stock alienates shoppers
If your online store only includes a partial selection of the product range from your physical store, you are limiting both choice and convenience for shoppers.
Most consumers start their buying journey online: they Google a product type or category, and use websites (even for bricks and mortar stores) to assess products. Your online inventory is a catalyst for both online and in-store sales, but here’s a serious warning: if your limited stock offering means an online consumer doesn’t find what they need, they are definitely going to bounce from your website and are definitely not visiting your store.
Online-only inventory causes lost sales
Let’s bring this back to warehousing solutions. Say a prospect finds Product X on your site and wants to buy it. The item is present in your physical store inventory, but not your online inventory. Since the customer only sees the ‘Out of Stock’ text, they simply go elsewhere.
You’ve lost the sale even though you do have stock within your business for that product.
So what’s the solution? How do you go from losing to securing this sale?
Adopt an omni-channel inventory approach
There is a much more versatile and effective omni-channel approach we’re seeing leading retailers embrace. It’s designed to maximise sales potential across the entire business and provide the best experience and convenience for customers.
Here’s how it works: your online store leverages all the inventory and product range, from all your physical stores and every stock location. Convenient, right?
Now this modern approach isn’t without its challenges. Retailers will need to overcome certain preconceptions of difficulty and establish new processes and practices.
For example, building out product imagery and SEO data for their entire physical store product range. Another barrier is the need for real-time inventory data and smart, integrated systems across all sales channels to avoid selling the same stock unit twice.
But these obstacles are easier to overcome than you’d think: there are exceptional tools and methods which make pretty light work of it all.
How this approach will maximise your sales potential
The more products you have listed in your online store, the more visibility you have in Google search. This means an immediate rise in the number of people interacting with your website. At the same time, your universal inventory means fewer stockouts and therefore fewer bounces and lost sales.
Retailers can also offer Live Stock in Store and Click & Collect services which convert web traffic into physical store visits and sales. With real-time visibility over all inventory and locations, you can offer faster and more flexible home delivery: simply fulfil orders from nearby stores instead of distant, central warehouses.
Adopting this model gives bricks and mortar stores an advantage over online-only retailers, with a level of flexibility and convenience which digital stores can’t match. For many retailers, this omni-channel approach has led to a 100% revenue increase across the business.
For retailers with multiple stores and both online and physical presences, this is a transition you can’t afford to miss. The opportunity cost is simply too high to ignore.
To find out how other retailers in your category have implemented this strategy, simply visit our site and register for a free interactive screen share where we’ll walk you through how easy the transformation can be.
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If you’re curious to see how other retailers in your sector are implementing these strategies, register for a free interactive screenshare today.