Approximate quantity unacceptable: Accurate inventory data makes or breaks sales

by | Oct 25, 2017

When it comes to providing inventory counts to trading partners, sales channels and consumers, accuracy and up-to-date data can have a make or break effect on your e-commerce efforts. Suppliers need accurate inventory data for their retailers so those retailers can meet their customers’ expectations. Retailers need accurate inventory data for their customers so they can make informed buying decisions.

For example, if a customer looks at your website and sees something is located in a nearby store, they may buy it via buy-online pick up in store (called ‘click and collect’ in Australia). But if they arrive and it’s out of stock, they’ll be disappointed and take their business elsewhere. They won’t just accept a raincheck or order it to be delivered to the store (for yet another trip back). They’ll look somewhere else for it, and depending on how unhappy they are, they may not return. Similarly, if they order the product online, but get the email described above, again they’re going to look elsewhere, and they may stay away.

This is not out of the realm of possibility. According to a 2016 Temando research report, 82 percent of customers want to buy products online and pick them up in the store, and 80 percent of them would like same-day shipping.

But if you have an accurate inventory count and you have exactly what you say you have, you can get them to come to your store, pick up their item, and possibly buy something else while they’re there. The same is true for online buying: if you’re out of the one product they want, you could lose their entire shopping cart. But if you can fill their order as promised, they’ll not only buy the whole cart, they’ll be back in the future.

It’s especially important when you sell across multiple channels, like a brick-and-mortar store, e-commerce, social media and through an online Marketplace (eBay, Amazon, etc). That means communication and connections across all your channels must be as up-to-date and accurate as possible.

That means suppliers not only need to be able to push all of that inventory information from all the right places, but the retailers need to be able to receive it and display it on their own websites. If the retailer has four items in the store, 10 in the warehouse, and another 50 in the suppliers’ inventory for drop shipping, the system needs to know how to reflect the right inventory counts for the right customers in the right channels.

Bottom line: Accurate inventory information matters. If you’re out of a product, but the customer knows it up front, they’re less likely to be unhappy. They’ll shrug their shoulders and move on, but they’ll be back. But if you disappoint them, if you “break your inventory promise” as it were, they’ll move on and may be gone forever.

If you want to learn more about inventory management and visibility, SPS Commerce can help you get more accurate inventory data. Please visit our website for more information, to receive a free demonstration, or to speak with one of our representatives.

Scott Bolduc

Scott Bolduc

Director of Supply Chain Strategy at SPS Commerce
Scott Bolduc is a multi-time winner of the Supply & Demand Chain Executive Pros to Know. He has worked with e-commerce retailers on their growth strategies and helped retailers transform their freight spending strategies to maximize efficiencies.
Scott Bolduc

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