Today's brands thrive when you have a strong relationship with your customers, especially when your business exists in a crowded market space. By deeply understanding your target market's needs and wants, buying behaviors, and preferred tone of interaction, you can create a perfectly personalized shopping interaction that fits seamlessly into their day — or better yet, becomes the highlight of their day.
However, even the most robustly researched and well-maintained customer relationships are fragile. When PricewaterhouseCoopers was researching the future of customer experience in 2021, they found that 33% of customers will completely abandon a brand they love after a single bad interaction.
Remember: this isn't just based on a first-time interaction with a new brand; months or even years of great service can be undone by one negative experience. The numbers PwC found become even worse after two or three negative interactions, ramping up to 92% of customers losing loyalty to the brand.
Getting the wrong order, not following up on a pre-order, simply not having the right item in stock — all of these minor inventory issues can be enough to turn a positive shopping experience into a negative one that jeopardizes the retention of a loyal customer.
Keep reading to learn why inventory control solutions are paramount for modern retailers, how to update your brand's processes for modern shoppers, and how to retain your core customers.
Consequences of Poor Inventory Control
When you're managing store inventory across multiple locations (many of which you may never see in person), having complete visibility into the products, stocking habits, and systems of each store is challenging. You rely on remote inventory tools to give you access to stock numbers, inventory trends, and other insights, but that data may be inaccurate or incomplete.
Even worse, it might give you an unclear picture of what your customers want from your stores, sending your strategies askew and leaving your customers frustrated, unsatisfied, and in search of a different brand to buy from.
Poor inventory control can take the form of:
- Inconsistent visual merchandising
- Unintuitive shelving patterns that frustrate customers or lead to missing stock
- Lack of visibility into where stock goes after it's arrived at a location (such as loss, breakage, theft, or transfers between stores)
- No predictive analysis or insight into purchase and ordering trends over time
Each of these problems can lead to:
- Overstocking, which eats up valuable storage space and can clutter a location.
- Understocking, which frustrates customers looking for particular in-demand items.
All of this leads to poor customer satisfaction. Some of the specific consequences of poor inventory control include:
Poor Brand Representation in Retail Stores
In-store shoppers are looking for a successful purchase experience. Their time investment is higher, as they have physically traveled to your retail location. But if you don't have the item they're looking for, the item is hard to find on the shelves, or there's a long period of uncertainty when your store associates have to go find the item, shoppers will become frustrated. The frustration becomes even more severe if they checked availability online or called ahead and were told you had the product.
How do you solve this problem? Your brand reps and store associates need to know when stock is low, when to replenish the shelves, when to order more products, and other crucial inventory metrics. This basic functionality significantly reduces the risk of poor brand representation.
Stressful Relationships With Retailers
Retailers that give your brand room on the shelves expect those products to move. If they don't sell — either because the spot stays empty due to poor supply chain management or because you don't provide the right variations customers want — your retailers will become increasingly frustrated. In the short term, that could mean moving your products to out-of-the-way shelves. In the long term, it means the end of the business relationship.
Diminishing Customer Experience
Shoppers are impatient, even if they're loyal. If they have to wait too long for their order to be fulfilled, they'll move on to a competitor's product that fulfills the same needs. Similarly, if you just don't have the right product in stock at all (whether that's online or in a store), they'll stop looking for it and fall in love with a different company.
Modern Inventory Control Solutions
The only way forward is to guarantee your customers have great experiences through a modern inventory control solution. Today's business environments of real-time data analytics, and constant connectivity can power more accuracy and efficiency than ever before, but your products still rely on human hands to make it to your customers. That's why any modern solution needs a combination of technology and people:
Your company's tech stack needs a real-time inventory management platform that can:
- Track stock levels at all of your retail locations
- Provide detailed records about transferred, lost, and returned products
- Supply chain management integrations so you can track the movement of goods to your retail locations or customers' homes
When your business can stay on top of products as they move from location to location, you can keep shoppers apprised with accurate details and proactively resolve shortages or problems.
Your brand representatives turn shipments of bulk products into enticing displays that shoppers can peruse, try, or buy right off the shelf. Your workers will set up products according to your visual merchandising plans, monitor in-store shelves to maintain optimal stock levels, and help shoppers in real-time to make the sales process more seamless.
Pro Tip for Modern inventory Control:
Use your systems to optimize unified sales strategies. If you use the same tools across your online sales platforms and your retail locations, you can maintain complete insight.
Get Started With ThirdChannel
If you're looking for a modern inventory control solution, schedule a demo of ThirdChannel's inventory platform. Our platform gives you easy inventory management options so you can trust your records and act quickly. Contact us today to see how you can quickly gain visibility into all of your stores and stock levels so every customer interaction is positive and creates the right environment for a sale.