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Thursday, 18 February 2016

Omni-channel Inventory Management Solutions

As the modern day consumer is spoilt for choice, it poses a challenge for retailers to zero down on their preferred channel of shopping. Customers interact with multiple channels and switch between them interchangeably to suit their demands. For retailers, this translates into the need to ease the process of finding the desired product across channels, for the consumers by anticipating the demand and optimizing the cross-channel inventory accordingly so that no opportunities are lost. To achieve this, retail businesses need to look at changing the way they think about and deal with their cross-channel inventory management.

The current omni-channel business models demand for a flexible and seamless inventory management at the core of the supply chain. A versatile inventory flow, that accommodates the frequent changes in consumer preferences across channels - be it physical stores or e-commerce – is essential. Retailers need to work on 2 main factors: allocation and replenishment.

The solution for retailers to tackle this is a single comprehensive omni-channel suite that seamlessly integrates channels. Such a system can enable examination of the inventory pool and allocate or replenish the stock based on pre-defined business rules and the business intelligence data acquired from across the different shopping channels. Based on analysis of the data captured, retailers can define strategies to manage cross-channel inventory. Thus, the solution can help to eliminate hurdles in inventory management and enable retailers to have a comprehensive view of their cross-channel supply chain. They can respond to trends quickly and optimize performance of their merchandise and assortments across the physical and online channels, reduce markdowns as well as satisfy customer expectations.

ETP V5 Omni-Channel Retail Suite consists of an enterprise-class multi-channel, multi-currency, and multi-lingual inventory management software solution which addresses the key needs of this dynamic industry such as merchandise management, sourcing, e-commerce order management, warehousing, sales, inventory management, replenishment planning, procurement, allocation and distribution. The system allows retailers to link up with the ETP Merchandise and Assortment planning solutions to execute their procurement based on the OTB plan. This ensures that they buy right, distribute, allocate and deliver right.

Monday, 8 February 2016

‘More is less’ – the new retail mantra!

The retail industry has come a long way – from being a simple barter system to the modern day retail that is all about ‘omni-channel’. This journey has helped retail to evolve and match the technology trends to meet the expectations of economic growth of regions, boost the revenue for businesses and ensure availability of products for consumers. But, the more one gets, even more is desired and thus for retail today, ‘more is less’.

Not only does every retail business want a share of the revenue pie, but it also wants to grab a bigger share each time. To do this, businesses are looking for modern ways to improve their operations and business models, to strategize effectively and increase the chances of boosting profits and margins. Further, they also want to expand and scale-up their businesses by venturing into diverse geographies or by sourcing and in some cases manufacturing new products for retail. In recent times, new channels of retail such as e-commerce have become the next big thing and retailers who were quick to jump onto the bandwagon, reaped its benefits. Many more are still following suit. But, even e-commerce has not been enough – mobile commerce (m-commerce) and social commerce are the latest retail touch-points. Taking timely advantage of these, can provide a fast paced growth for the retailers. It also provides for an opening for new entrants looking to foray into the retail business thus leading to more competition and this can just keep snowballing further.

Along with the modern trends in retail, there are a host of forward-looking technologies that can be infused in to the business in order to enhance it further. One significant example would be, the way POS technology has evolved from regular billing counters to being CRM integrated and even to Mobile POS (m-POS). Innovations in technology has enabled retail software solution companies to integrate even more advanced features to the POS such as augmented reality. With all certainty, there is still more to come in the future.

ETP Blog - More is Less - the new retail mantra!

Big Data analytics is another such important and revolutionary technology. From simple capturing of data to offering analyzing capabilities, progressing into predictive and intuitive analytics, technology has paved the way not only for retail, but also for other businesses to plan their next steps for growth. Big Data allows retailers to capture and analyze large volumes of data – of their customers, employees and inventory – to be able to understand and predict market trends. Further advancements in technology will surely add more capabilities to POS, Big Data analytics and other retail solutions.

Just like technology, there are other aspects where ‘More is Less” influences the retail businesses. A growing global population means more consumers, more demand and eventually, more business opportunity. The need to fulfil the rising demand leads to creation of multiple product variants, versions and alternatives, and also varied pricing. Retailers can create separate brands to target the different customer segments. Offers and promotions also help to attract more customers. With a focus on customer centricity, retailers also need to provide more information about their offerings. For the consumers, all of this means more avenues or channels from where they can buy or research about the product options, more choices and more discounts on the products of their choice.

‘More is less’ is definitely the new retail mantra of today! If retail businesses can get more done, they can certainly achieve more. The opportunities to stand-out are galore if, after evaluating all factors and employing the right technologies, from planning to execution, they can get it right in retail.