If you have to name one industry that has undergone a significant amount of change in the past decade or so, your pick could be the retail industry and mind you, no one would be surprised. Technological innovations and various other industry trends have together changed the face of this fast-paced industry. There was a time when devoid of choices as well as information, the customers would completely be dependent on the salespersons. However, with time, the balance of power has shifted to the customers, who today know exactly what they want and also have multiple choices to buy from. If you don’t serve them well, it’s your loss, not theirs. They will move on to some other retailer to get what they want.
This has made retailing all the more tougher for the retailers, who as it have a lot to worry about. As if the challenges like tight margins, tighter competition, constantly moving stock, different pricing rules for different products at different stores, et al were not enough, the retailers now also need to worry about dealing with the restive customers who have shorter attention spans than ever before. Amidst all these challenges, attracting new buyers and retaining the old ones remains the single most important objective of retail businesses.
And how exactly can they meet this objective? Simple, by making the products a customer wants available to him exactly when he wants them, where he wants them, and through which channel he wants them. In order to meet this objective, the retailers need to modernize their operations, consistently adapt their strategies, workflows and processes, and keep their inventory management slick, streamlined and efficient.
The significance of inventory management in retail
Starting at ground zero, inventory, for retailers, refers to the unsold goods/products they stock at their warehouse for future use when the existing stock replenishes. It is one of the most important aspects of business, and also the most difficult to track. The process of ensuring the retailers always have surplus inventory at their disposal so that they never go ‘out-of-stock’, is called inventory management. This process gives the retailers an idea into how many of each item do they have, and which top-selling items are running low on stock and require quick replenishment, thus allowing them to make good buying decisions on a timely basis. No wonder managing the inventory is the top priority for retail decision makers these days.
As mentioned above in brief, there was a time when the customers had limited options when it came to shopping, and virtually no choice but to wait to get a particular product if it was out of stock with their retailer. However, today if a customer doesn’t find the desired product at one retail shop, he won’t think twice before switching to some other retailer with whom the product is available. A retailer, on the other hand, can’t afford to lose even a single customer. That’s where inventory management is important, as it helps prevent unavailability of stock, bring down the warehouse costs, eliminate the possibility of goods expiring or becoming harder to sell, and eventually with customer retention. Now the question is how do the retailers manage their inventory?
Enter retail management software
A retail management software allows the retailers to manage their business operations smoothly by offering a host of features and functionalities, and managing inventory is one of them. With a retail ERP software into play, the retailers can get thorough and real-time insights into the inventory, customers, as well as suppliers. This helps them deliver the right goods at the right time at the right place and at the right cost. The retail ERP software also comes with product performance indicators that have the ability to forecast. With a retail ERP, the retailers can keep track of sales, costs, discounts, returns and exchanges, customer behavior, etc., which eventually helps them drive new customers to purchase products comes and keep existing customers loyal by providing them a consistent, omnichannel experience across all touchpoints.
The need for cloud-based ERP for inventory management
Most modern-day retail ERP software are Cloud-enabled, which empowers the retailers with on-demand and real-time management of the different business processes. A Cloud-based ERP allows the retail managers to get hold of their business from virtually anywhere in the world using their own personal devices, as it takes the location out of the equation, and adds mobility to it. The Cloud also allows systems to dynamically scale along with the business, which is again a big plus for the retailers. Let’s take a look at these, as well as other reasons why a retail business needs a Cloud-based inventory management system.
- Anytime, anywhere access: A Cloud-based retail management software gives the retailers anytime, anywhere access, which means they can manage their retail business remotely, raise purchase orders, view business reports and even process orders and returns, all without being physically present in their office or warehouse.
- Real-time integrations: One of the biggest benefits a retail management software on Cloud offers to the retailers is that they can easily integrate it with their different stores. This means their products, sales orders, and shipments can be synced between applications in real time. This way, the data flows between different business systems and functions in a seamless manner, relieving the retailers of worries related to re-entering data in multiple places. Updating in real-time, the system also keeps the actual inventory levels very accurate, thus eliminating the risk of running out of stock for products. At the same time, it can also prevent the retailer from making a sale when he has actually run out of that particular product.
- Multichannel support: The retailers today have so many channels of sales, with each one of them offering distinct benefits. They have their offline stores, B2B sales channels, online stores and even sell through e-commerce portals like Amazon or Flipkart. What they need is an inventory management system that can integrate with all of these channels, fetch data from them, and sync it up with their data in real time. Only a Cloud-based ERP software makes it possible, allowing the retailers not just to manage the inventory, but the supply chain itself.
- Scalability: Another important thing about a Cloud-based ERP system for retailers is that it can scale along with the business. It can handle two orders a day, and twenty thousand orders a day with the same ease. So, the retailers can focus their energies on growing their business without worrying, as their Cloud-based retail management software can handle the inventory seamlessly, no matter what the volume of sales is.
- Exceptional reporting: Cloud-based ERP systems are exceptional when it comes to reporting, as they facilitate instantaneous, real-time reporting. The retailers can get drilled-down reports on almost every aspect of their business including inventory with just a few clicks. Access to this critical information gives them a clear picture on how their business is doing at present, and how it is going to look like in future, so that they can plan and take decisions accordingly.
- Looks after the backups: A Cloud-based retail ERP software automatically backs up the data stored on Cloud servers, which means the retailers don’t have to worry about backing up the data on their own. With complete peace of mind, the retailers can stop worrying about their data and start focusing on other important business areas.
Conclusion: We learned why inventory management is such an important process for retailers, and also why a good Cloud-based retail ERP software, which helps them manage the inventory flawlessly, is a must-have for retail businesses. By having it, a retailer can keep his focus on retaining the existing customers, and adding new ones, while serving their needs to perfection across all channels. If you need one such software for your retail business, your search ends here.