With omnichannel shopping becoming the norm across B2B and B2C sectors, it’s become increasingly important to have seamless operations across channels. One of the critical components of a successful omnichannel experience is the ability to unify inventory data in real-time and make the inventory shoppable across any sales channel. Without real-time inventory visibility, you could risk losing a shopper to stockouts or inability to check local inventory location.
Stockouts, or out-of-stocks, cost retailers nearly $1 trillion per year. The more shoppers continue to add channels to their buying journeys, the more complexities businesses face in delivering omnichannel experiences—increasing the risk of poor customer experiences.
Accurate inventory data continues to be a top priority for retailers as they struggle with supply chain issues, siloed systems, demand planning, and meeting customer expectations for more fulfillment options. By unifying inventory data into a single platform and configuring Future Available to Promise, shoppers can tap into all available products and complete their purchase on any channel.
What is Future Available to Promise?
You may be familiar with Available to Promise, which is the current on-hand inventory that has not been allocated elsewhere and is available to commit to an order. Future Available to Promise takes it one step further by allowing you to allocate against future incoming inventory at a location. For example, warehouse A has 100 units of an item on hand, but another 50 are in transit, will arrive in two days, and can be used in a future available to promise strategy.
Future Available to Promise is designed to provide an accurate picture of current inventory levels, as well as future availability of products or services. Retailers can accept an order for future fulfillment, knowing the expected inventory availability date ahead of time. If there is not enough current inventory, the retailer does not need to miss out on orders – orders can be placed for items against incoming inventory.
With Future Available to Promise:
- Call centers or B2B sales reps can leverage future-stock or in-transit inventory for orders.
- You can unify inventory data such that it accounts for current and future inventory while ensuring that current inventory is always prioritized for allocation before future inventory.
- You can use future inventory for all products or only for specific products.
- Use future inventory for in-store pick-up and direct ship.
How Does Future Available to Promise Work?
If you have a modern, distributed order management system with this feature, you’ll need to:
- Opt-in for allocating future inventory.
- Set a time horizon to allocate against. For example, you may have a view of inventory twelve weeks out, but you only want to allocate for future inventory four weeks from the current time. This ensures shoppers won’t have significantly long delivery timeframes.
- Specify products that qualify for future inventory allocation as some purchases will be more urgent than others. For example, a shopper may be OK waiting several weeks for a new couch—making the product an ideal candidate for allocating future inventory. But you may not want to allocate future inventory for printer cartridges, which could be a more urgent need of same day pick-up.
Once you have Future Available to Promise configured, you’ll be able to factor in supply chain lead time, customer demand, and current availability into your inventory management strategy.
Business Advantages to Unifying Inventory Data and Making Future Inventory Shoppable
There are several business benefits to unifying incoming inventory data and making it available to customers across all sales channels.
Increase in revenue: Companies can unlock significant revenue when they no longer limit purchases based on current available inventory.
Better Customer Experience: Customers are presented with a wider selection of products they can purchase. If an item is out-of-stock but has inventory coming in on a predictable timeline, the item can be displayed as available for purchase.
Reduced Inventory Carrying Cost: Retailers can still meet customer demand while keeping lower levels of current inventory in their location network.
Better inventory control: Future Available to Promise provides you with better control over inventory levels and future availability. This means that you have access to real-time data about stock levels and upcoming deliveries, allowing you to make informed decisions about future orders and restocking plans. As orders are placed against future inventory, there is better control in readjusting future inventory supply.
Increase in conversions and customer loyalty: According to a 2022 Forrester survey, 68% of US consumers believe it’s important to be able to confirm product availability in stores on the website. By maximizing inventory availability and presenting accurate information on the storefront with Future Available to Promise, you’ll be able to increase conversions and provide transparent experiences that build customer loyalty.
When is Future Available to Promise most effective?
Future Available to Promise is particularly useful when there is predictability of inventory arriving at a fulfillment location combined with fast-moving goods.
Here are a few examples:
- During ‘Back to School’ season, items like notebooks, lunchboxes, and backpacks will sell fast in store and online throughout the season and the retailer has planned for incoming regular supply.
- Toiletries like toilet paper and toothpaste are always in demand and replenished often and quickly.
- Retailers maintain a stream of incoming inventory for holiday décor, lights, wrapping paper, etc. to meet the window of demand starting in the Fall.
- When a B2B sales rep needs access to future-stock or in-transit inventory to place orders for buyers that need products by a specific date to meet project requirements.
Future Available to Promise is becoming increasingly important for businesses as they strive to meet customer demand and improve supply chain efficiency. By leveraging Future Available to Promise, you can reduce carrying costs and increase sales while meeting customer demand.