In my book, Retail Survival: Who Wins, Who Dies and Why, I outlined how inventory can be transformed by retailers to establish a real competitive advantage. For this, I have received a good deal of feedback and questions about how to make this happen. Read on to learn why this is critical and how it can be accomplished.
Omnichannel marketing has become the norm throughout retail and this is being driven by the multichannel customer that may discover a new product on mobile, research it on the web, check reviews on social media and see-feel-try the product in your retail store. If you have inventory on the shelves, the new customer will stay and with a positive in-store experience, will become a loyal customer. If you’re out of stock or don’t carry the inventory, that customer will leave and head to your competitor. Period, end of subject.
Amazon’s continued growth and dominance in the retail market is requiring massive change in how to meet consumer expectations for speed and convenience. It is also forcing many larger retailers to become more nimble and flexible in their relationships with their vendors. The longer line review and planning sessions are being changed to include an accelerated product review and launch schedule. Without this speed, unique opportunities are missed and without the right product mix and inventory on the shelves, today’s fickle customer will race across town to your competition.
As far as consumers are concerned, retailers are in the business of Now! They want what they want right now and will quickly go elsewhere if they can’t get it. Inventory is usually a retailer’s largest asset and its lifeblood. Too little inventory can destroy you and create the most devastating customer experience. If you have what customers want, when they want it, inventory can be leveraged as the ultimate competitive advantage.