How to increase digital merchandise availability in an omnichannel world
The 'phygital' dilemma
By Tom Vieweger
By Tom Vieweger
For some time now, we have been living in the “new normal,” where fewer people visit physical stores, and the number of online orders is ever-growing. In this context, stores are transforming into ‘mini DCs’ so they can use their stock to fulfil online orders. As a result, stores are more important than ever and have become the heart of the omnichannel shopping experience.
There is a challenge still, however, in that retailers do not entirely trust their stock files. Inventory data is often outdated and error-prone. As a consequence, they apply so-called safety thresholds when they activate store stock to be used for online shopping (“ship from store”) as well as in-store reservations (“pick up in-store”). It reminds me of the paradox faced by Schroedinger’s cat, which can be alive and not alive at the same time: products are physically in a store, but digitally they are not available. That is what I call the ‘phygital dilemma.’ So how can we solve it?
To eliminate safety thresholds, it is essential that retailers can trust their inventory data. RFID technology is the foundation for accurate stocks. It allows for fully automated in-store stock management – resulting in nearly one hundred per cent in-store stock accuracy, even on sublocation level. Retailers can only operate without safety thresholds if they can trust they have accurate stock information.
There are two things retailers can do to extend their online sellable product range and increase their digital availability:
Practical examples had proven that retailers could extend their available product range by, e.g., twenty percentage points when they reduced their safety thresholds. This can only be achieved with full item- and sublocation-level visibility. Are you interested in the full story? Check out the whitepaper below.
Stock visibility along the whole supply chain is essential for retailers to make merchandise digitally available. Driven by the reality we are currently living in, shopping behavior is rapidly changing so that online and offline shopping belong together.
In this context, stores are the heart of the omnichannel experience. Experts say we’re now 5 years ahead of where we would normally be when it comes to our shopping behavior. Just to drop a fun fact.
Key questions amongst retailers are: how can we leverage our store stock to fulfil online orders? And how do we make sure we don’t lose turnover because we don’t exactly know what’s on the shelf?