Inventory. As you assess your company’s 2014 performance, be sure to include an objective evaluation of how well you used inventory best practices this year? Was it anywhere close to being optimal (i.e. acceptable under or overstock levels)? Did the management of inventory positively service your customer and gain the sale?
In the last couple of years inventory availability has really become central to how well omnichannel retailers can sell to the customer from a variety channels, stores and distribution centers. Surveys show that more than 50% of the time the customer starts the selling transaction with an inquiry about inventory availability and/or comparison pricing. Then the omnichannel delivery mechanisms of ordered on the Internet picked up at the store; or ordered on the Internet and shipped from the store, or shipped from a company DC become crucial. In order to capitalize on omnichannel, Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl’s, Neiman Marcus, etc. have made tremendous systems changes to “open up accessibility” of their inventory at both the store, and distribution center level. Frankly, it’s impressive the inroads they have made.