The soul of a retailer lies in its stores. It can be seen and felt. It is what makes the brand an exciting place with a distinctive atmosphere. The eyes to the soul are the store windows – or the retailer’s website. The retailer’s heart is the buying and planning division, which pumps merchandise through the system and into stores or orders from many channels.
The most important part of this living system is its lifeblood, or inventory. Today, customers expect a free-flowing, buy anywhere, fulfill anywhere, return anywhere marketplace in which purchases may originate in one channel, be completed in another, and returns are handled in a third.
To successfully transition to fully-optimized inventory and deliver exceptional customer service and convenience, retailers must focus on “one version of the truth”. This can be achieved by evaluating capabilities, assessing customer data points, and creating a plan for this single vision. Mi9 Retail and Columbus Consulting have identified five building blocks to help retailers build a strategy for their organization:
- Make inventory visible
- Focus on customer convenience & experience
- Don’t start small, start simple
- Make it easy to maximize customer experience and personalization
- Aligning KPIs to the retailer’s strategy