Satisfying the needs of customers shopping online and in-store consists of multiple operational factors, but it all starts out with the procurement process. A comprehensive view of all direct inventory enables retailers to determine how shipments should be organized based upon varying consumer demand. This omnichannel strategy is forcing businesses to utilize technology that can provide a real-time vision of all distributed materials.
Putting the best foot forward
According to Retail Info Systems News, footwear merchandiser Aerosoles merged its direct and e-commerce avenues to streamline inventory processing, with the goal of having all stock lists housed in one location. Aerosoles Vice President of Merchandising Steve Siebel told attendees at the 2014 Retail Technology Conference in Orlando, Fla., earlier this month that linking core functions such as assortments, warehouses, material management and demand planning has had a profound impact on the retailer's omnichannel blueprint.
"The organization needs to realign to one customer service team and one allocation team to handle the new demands," said Siebel, as quoted by the news source. "We realized we have to determine what the best level of inventory actually needs to be at each location."
As opposed to having two disparate procurement software systems - one to handle e-commerce, the other to administrate brick-and-mortar operations - Aerosoles chose a holistic solution that would enable it to monitor fluctuations in consumer demand and compare those changes to current product storage.
The rise of radio frequency identification (RFID)
The ability to log incoming materials at a warehouse bay and have managers be able to view the inventory changes in real time is one of the benefits associated with RFID. The technology has grown in popularity as companies realize they can sync the information recorded by the system with records management software. When an item arrived at a facility, where it was stored, and the time it left a distribution center can all be entered into a comprehensive solution.
Merchandisers throughout the globe have recognized the significance of RFID, so much so that a conference showcasing the technology - appropriately named RFID Journal LIVE! 2014 - was held in early April. RFID Journal reported that the event attendees displayed RFID-related services at the Item-Level Retail and Apparel Workshop on April 8, displaying how the systems improve inventory accuracy and enable users to adequately meet the demands of customers.
Marks and Spencer Head of Packaging Kim Philips opened the conference's keynote presentation by explaining that RFID will become more prevalent as merchandisers move toward omnichannel practices.