Connected Inventory: The Breath of Fresh Air Supply Chains Needed

It is estimated that 1.1 trillion dollars are lost annually due to stock replenishment issues. This can range from overstocking to selling out-of-stock items due to a disorganised inventory system. Many companies have turned to the connected inventory method to move forward with their e-commerce activities, but what is the connected inventory philosophy?

Connected Inventory

Connected inventory is a method used by modern businesses. To put it simply, connected inventory integrates a company’s stock across the board, simplifying logistics processes for a business which operates across multiple guises, such as online retail, brick-and-mortar, and BOPIS retail techniques. Meeting the demand levels required by customers in 2022 has forced businesses to go online and set up their sites and stores. This has led to confusing inventory reports as the traditional method is to operate physical inventories and digital inventories separately. This causes added workload and opens the door to mistakes being made, as the logistics load has been doubled overnight. Connected inventory methods seek to remove this problem for retailers going forward. 

Faster Delivery Times

The First major advantage when operating a connected inventory structure is the speed you can get your product into your consumer’s hands. Nike CEO, John Donahoe, has quoted the phrase ‘connected inventories’ in his new initiative to replicate Amazon’s rapid delivery methods, connected inventories speed up your delivery times which increases your customer satisfaction rate drastically. In an age where Amazon is beginning to offer same-day delivery, this can be a crucial step for a company to make. 

Maintained Stock Levels

Many companies operate across multiple online platforms, such as Shopify, eBay, and Amazon. Retailers keeping individual inventory records regularly make mistakes and miss out on profits. This can be because you’re out of stock on one platform but still selling on another, forcing you to miss out on potential customers in specific areas. A company experimenting with inventory optimization has recognized the importance of mastering online sales by streamlining a key area of its supply chain.

A connected inventory system can prevent a business from ever running out of stock. The system operates by placing all stock figures into one place. If everything is in one place across your online platforms and physical stores, then you can simply be notified when a specific product is running low on stock. This simplifying of your stock file allows greater room for marketing research, allowing you to allocate your stock to various locations if purchasing patterns emerge.

Brick-and-Mortar

Connected inventories are not restricted to online sales platforms. Businesses that operate traditional brick-and-mortar stores also benefit from this method, as they can merge their physical stock figures with their online stock, allowing customers to purchase online and pick up in-store within the same day. Shopify carried out a study which found that 33% of consumers would prefer to shop in-store as they prefer the physical touch of a product.

Buy Online Purchase in Store (BOPIS)

A fresh take on retail is BOPIS. This method has spread like wildfire with the likes of Amazon, Boohoo, and many more online retailers, allowing customers to make a purchase and collect from allocated stores, cutting down on dispatch costs and reducing the delivery times experienced by customers. Connected inventories allow this retail method to thrive. When a BOPIS purchase is made, the same inventory file is edited as would occur with a physical store purchase. Not only do they share an inventory file, but you may also have an item of stock located closer to the customer, eliminating your need to ship the product from a storage unit by simply sending them to your physical store instead. BOPIS purchases totalled 70 billion dollars in 2020 and are expected to reach 140 billion by 2024. This technique is here to stay and is greatly enforced with a connected inventory system.

Connected inventory systems allow a company to spread its wings and head into the online retail world. This can potentially attract international customers, greatly increasing profits, alongside spreading your brand awareness across multiple online platforms.

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