Inventory Visibility in the Age of Consumer Data

August 13, 2014
 

I am not ashamed to admit that I suffer from media overload. I blame it all on the overstimulating universe of 1-click purchases, 6-second videos and 140-character stories. I expect my favorite shows to be pre-recorded, my favorite books to be recommended and my favorite music tracks to materialize on my playlists. In short, I expect my devices to connect me with the world of people, places and things while I go about my daily business, unscathed.

As it turns out, I am not alone. The majority of consumers have kissed the days of winsome window shopping goodbye. Like me, they would rather not visit a retail store unless they know the products they want are queued up and ready to buy. As a matter of fact, a recent Forrester survey found that 71% of consumers expect to view in-store inventory online. What’s more, 73% reported that they were “likely to very likely” to visit a local store if they could see online inventory, while only 36% said they would make the trip barring this information. And 38% of these shoppers are checking online inventory on a mobile phone while en route to a store, making cross-channel eCommerce more critical than ever.

As many retail pundits have opined, we have entered the age of the consumer. But I would qualify this statement. I believe merchants have always catered to shifting consumer demands. Yes, competition is fierce, especially given the low barrier to entry for eTailers, but I would argue that we have, in fact, entered the age of consumer data. Today’s top retailers are leveraging data to gain keener insights into consumer desires and behavior and deliver a more relevant, convenient and personalized shopping experience.

Which returns us to inventory visibility: Your customers not only want, but expect to view, online inventory before heading to a brick-and-mortar store. And it is that blended online and offline experience that is winning the day. Forrester’s Sucharita Mulpuru believes that providing inventory visibility across online and offline channels will not only drive sales, but will result in happier (which is to say repeat) customers.

Pioneering retailers like Walmart and Macy’s have taken note. Both have committed to delivering seamless omnichannel experiences that connect consumers with the products they want – offering inventory availability, product information and personalized in-store promotions across channels. The result? Walmart currently outsells Amazon ten to one.

Still, retailers are struggling to keep pace with technology innovation. Partnering with RichRelevance, L2 recently studied 100 retailers and determined that only 6% have real-time inventory visibility online. Despite the slow start, Forrester believes that by 2015, half of all retailers will enable online inventory visibility.

Ed Stevens, Founder and CEO of Shopatron (now Kibo), the leading provider of cloud-based distributed order management, believes it is that intersection of data and omnichannel shopping that will drive best-in-class eCommerce solutions.

Kibo recently launched a free Inventory Lookup solution for enterprise retailers. Not only does this lightweight API enable retailers to implement online inventory in a matter of weeks, but it provides unprecedented access to consumer data: “Our solution provides up-to-the-minute data on consumer product searches by date, location and SKU to help retailers optimize merchandising, promotions, inventory stocking habits and in-store staffing and operations. This is the kind of game-changing technology that will help retailers break ahead of the pack and outperform the competition.”

I couldn’t agree more. This solution delivers a powerful one-two punch, offering consumers the frictionless cross-channel shopping journeys they desire, driven by real-time localized data. Which is a good thing, because when it comes to satisfying today’s attention-challenged consumers, like me, convenience is everything.

To learn more about Kibo’s free Inventory Lookup solution, visit our Resource Center or call 1-877-350-3866 to request your free demo today.