The Evolution Of Retail Inventory Management
September 2012 Integrated Solutions For Retailers
By Bob Johns, associate editor
As technology changes and retailers move into multiple channels, inventory management becomes more important.
Retailers are selling merchandise to their customers online, in-store, by catalog, by phone, and through mobile devices. It is up to the customer to choose how they purchase the goods, but it is up to the retailer to decide where those goods come from. Efficiently managing inventories across all channels keeps the customer happy and the retailer’s bottom line healthy. Here, David Smith, VP and GM of software and professional services with UTC Retail, discusses the changes in retail inventory management.
What have been the most significant technology advancements, especially when it comes to inventory visibility and data management?
Smith: There have been several advancements in recent history that have had a direct impact on retailers’ ability to better manage their businesses. One of the most significant is the huge leap forward in the area of real-time networking. With multiple store locations, as well as multiple sales channels, it is imperative that retailers have a real-time view into sales and inventory data. This kind of access allows them not only to react more quickly to consumer trends, but also to proactively get ahead of those trends. However, there are still a large number of retailers that are stuck in batch polling and/or processing. So, finding applications that can support both batch and real-time infrastructures is a major consideration for retailers who are looking to improve their infrastructure in the future. The availability of inexpensive and readily available bandwidth, coupled with a significant fall in the price of handheld and mobile technologies, will continue to drive changes in this area. Where possible, retailers should also strive to pick platform-independent applications in the current race for mobility (e.g. iOS versus Android) to ensure longevity of the solution deployed, as well as an ongoing ROI.