Delight your customers while optimizing the value of your inventory.
When it comes to inventory, what you can't see can hurt you.
When inventory can’t be seen by customers or staff, a lot of money is sitting idle on your shelves. It’s a wasted asset that’s not contributing to your organization’s ROI.
Even worse, it probably costs you more than you might think. Not only is storage space expensive, but you’ve probably been abandoned by disappointed customers who’ve looked for an item, couldn’t find it, and gone elsewhere to make their purchase.
After investing so much in winning their loyalty, it’s a tragic waste to lose them to a competitor simply because your products were hidden from view.
Managing inventory across all channels is extremely complicated.
Today, with the prevalence of omnichannel shopping, inventory visibility is even more important to your organization.
And it’s also a lot more complicated.
With multiple locations, inventory silos, and orders-in-transit, it’s difficult to provide staff and customers with a consolidated, accurate, and real-time view of your current and future inventory.
Today’s demands require real-time inventory visibility.
While standard inventory management software holds a huge advantage over traditional manual methods, the complexity and speed of today’s omnichannel commerce require far more powerful capabilities: automated, omnichannel inventory visibility solutions.
As part of an advanced order management solution like IBM Sterling Order Management, or a standalone solution like IBM Sterling Inventory Visibility, these solutions deliver up-to-the-minute insights across all your channels and locations so you can meet customer expectations and optimize your inventory.
By integrating data from all your locations, suppliers, and sales channels, these solutions enable you to view and monitor your supply and demand, and analyze data to make predictions about future requirements. They equip you to act quickly to get the greatest value from your inventory – increasing sales without increasing SKUs.
You’ll know exactly what you have in inventory and precisely where it is – even when it’s widely dispersed throughout the globe, in transit, and changing every minute. With these solutions, it’s possible for you to see as you’ve never seen before and sell what you might not know you had.
What happens when inventory can’t be seen?
When your inventory is hidden from view or is inaccurately reported by outdated systems, it languishes on your shelves, losing more and more of its value each day. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Unseen inventory affects almost everyone in your supply chain, causing delays in processes and often incurring additional delivery costs. It frustrates suppliers, weakens customer relationships, and, ultimately, it impacts your bottom line. This is why inventory management is so critical to any retailer’s survival.
Many companies understand the imperative to achieve full inventory visibility, but they’re stymied by old, disparate systems. Unless they take action now to remedy the problem, they may find themselves in a poor competitive position, battling a reputation for failing to meet customer promises, and trying to mitigate lost revenues by jettisoning older stock at vastly discounted prices.
Are you experiencing any of these symptoms? Invisible inventory may be to blame.
- Stockouts occur unexpectedly.
- Safety stock levels are inappropriate.
- Customers can’t find what they want.
- Distribution center staff can’t complete planned shipments and deliveries on time.
- Costs skyrocket as you struggle to meet promised delivery dates.
- Unfilled orders create customer disappointment.
- Pickup orders aren’t ready as promised.
- Opportunities for customer engagement are lost.
- You can’t plan effectively for the future.
When you can’t see your inventory, you risk promoting items that can’t be quickly sourced from another location, distribution center, or supplier. You not only lose sales but present a bad customer experience that will be difficult to overcome.
Sometimes you need to scale up or down – particularly with seasonal items. When you don’t have accurate visibility into stock movement, safety stock levels can be set so low that you incur stockouts, or so high that you’ll need to issue markdowns to get it off your shelves.
Sales opportunities are missed because a customer can’t find the item they wanted. More often than not, they’ll reach out to one of your competitors.
Delays in acquiring inventory for shipment create inefficiencies in your distribution process and wreaks havoc with your customer service. Orders may need to be split, driving up your costs and possibly irritating the expectant recipient.
When you absolutely must meet your delivery date, you’re liable to incur expensive rush shipment charges. These costs are a direct hit on your bottom line.
You fail to keep your delivery promise, irritating the customer and risking repercussions such as order cancellation and even angry posts on social media.
Nothing could be more annoying than traveling to a retail location only to learn that the item isn’t available or ready for pickup, as promised. In a world of harried customers, time is a precious commodity that mustn’t be wasted.
Every time an item isn’t available or ready for receipt at the retail outlet, you lose the opportunity to affect a positive interaction that translates into brand loyalty and future sales.
When items are hidden in silos, it’s difficult to gain an accurate assessment of your inventory. Additionally, if you can’t monitor and project demand, you have tremendous difficulty planning future purchases. To make better decisions about inventory levels, it’s important to have a view of everything you own and to know where it can be found.
- 34% of adults say they are less likely to even visit a store if its inventory is not available online.1
- 34% of supply chain executives surveyed cite inventory visibility across all locations, including in-transit inventory, as a top fulfillment challenge.2
- 43% of retailers do not have integrated store and online inventories.3
- 1 in 2 retailers report that the lack of accurate inventory visibility is the biggest challenge impeding their ability to improve customer experience.4
- For every billion dollars of sales, a retailer loses $70 million annually due to out-of-stock scenarios.5
1,5 Put Fulfillment At The Heart Of The Customer Experience, Forrester Consulting Thought Leadership Paper Commissioned By IBM, January 2019
2 https://www.ibm.com/watson/supply-chain/resources/real-time-inventory-visibility/ | 3,4 2019 State of the Industry: Supply Chain Survey, Incisiv
Visible inventory brings visible improvements to your operations, customer satisfaction, and ROI.
Advanced Order Management systems that provide accurate, real-time, global visibility have a profound impact on your organization’s performance and on your customer relationships. Standalone Inventory Visibility systems can also enhance the capabilities of your existing OMS solution.
By leveraging these solutions to make inventory visible in real-time, companies can operate with lower inventory levels and fulfill customer orders at a lower cost-to-serve. Here are some of the benefits companies achieve:
- Prevent stockouts by identifying shortages and making fast adjustments.
- Increase inventory turns and reduce carrying costs.
- Make in-transit inventory available to purchase.
- Drive additional revenue with aging inventory.
- Plan for the future more effectively.
Match customer demand with global inventory, and shift stock as needed to meet local markets. Use cross-channel insights and analytics to detect anomalies (low performance) or issues (delayed supply, low inventory) across disparate systems and silos. Make course corrections proactively rather than waiting until it’s too late.
When you have global inventory visibility, you can dynamically shift stock levels to leverage and react to incoming demand, rather than maintaining a static quantity that may not be appropriate to all channels and all locations. You’re better able to meet seasonal or regional customer demand while reducing carrying costs and increasing inventory turns.
Reduce average inventory on hand and increase inventory velocity by committing in-transit goods to customer orders. This also enables suppliers to better understand and meet demand.
Drive incremental revenues and margins by stimulating sales and minimizing markdowns. Inventory visibility helps you identify and promote older merchandise that may be hidden in many locations.
Inventory visibility and the monitoring of consumer behaviors provide the detailed information you need to better predict appropriate inventory levels – now and in the future.
Delight your customers every time...
and do so at a lower cost.
Inventory optimization allows you to proactively monitor and manage availability and margins, and helps you deliver a better customer experience at a lower cost-to-serve.
- Ensure customers find what they want.
- Improve customer engagement at the store.
- Deliver on schedule.
- Provide accurate information about in-store pickup.
With inventory visibility, your customers can receive personalized, real-time information across all sources and all channels. Additionally, they can be directed to merchandise based on their own specific preferences – wherever that inventory exists in your network.
Give your store associates the tools they need to actively engage customers and deliver exceptional service at every touchpoint. Inventory visibility enables associates to quickly find out-of-stock inventory in nearby stores for pickup, or have it shipped to the customer. Delight customers while stimulating cross-sell or upsell by presenting merchandise information related to preferences in their wish lists or based on previous orders.
Real-time updates ensure that accurate inventory counts are always available. So, you eliminate overpromising and the increased costs that rush shipping might incur. If an item isn’t in stock in one location, the order can be diverted to another store where available inventory is held or assigned to future inbound inventory. Additionally, orders can be directed to shipping locations based on proximity to the recipient to save delivery costs.
Customers become frustrated if an order isn’t available when promised. With inventory visibility, you can be assured that inventory is in stock and readily available at the desired location – before your customer arrives. And, if it isn’t at the chosen location, you can direct your customer to an alternative store nearby or provide expected delivery dates.
Whichever industry you’re in, inventory visibility can improve your performance.
Many businesses are impacted by inventory visibility. Here are just a few industries in which a direct and rapid improvement is achieved with modern order management and inventory visibility solutions.
In the new omnichannel model, it’s difficult to consolidate a single view of inventory across web, retail, and wholesale channels. Order management and inventory visibility systems that provide this capability to help you better serve customers regardless of the channel.
Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG)
Many CPG companies work in a consignment model with retailers, so they need visibility of inventory both in their own facilities and in the retail stores. The high volume of transactions also presents a visibility challenge. Order management and inventory visibility solutions enable suppliers to better predict and respond to demand.
B2B companies typically have SLA-based contracts with customers that mandate penalties if orders aren’t delivered on time. A better view of inventory helps improve its on-time delivery metrics.
Like retailers, telecom companies typically have a retail footprint. They need visibility to their stores so they can provide an omnichannel experience for the sales of phones and other accessories.
Medical and pharmaceutical firms are working to differentiate themselves with creative distribution and consignment solutions. Lack of inventory visibility has hindered new implementations. Improved inventory visibility alleviates this issue and enables greater innovation.
Lightwell and IBM inventory visibility solutions provide
essential support for omnichannel demands.
- Scalable, end-to-end visibility of inventory across the entire distribution network (including distribution centers, stores, suppliers, drop-shippers, manufacturers and OEM, in-transit)
- Location-aware inventory tracking, task management, and customer service capabilities
- Optimized fulfillment processes based on your company’s performance objectives.
For over 20 years, Lightwell has built a reputation for excellence in the strategic planning, deployment, and optimization of technologies including order management. Leveraging decades of experience with these solutions, we help companies accelerate time-to-benefit and optimize results. Learn more about our solutions and services below.
IBM Sterling solutions for improving inventory visibility include:
IBM Platinum Business Partner
Lightwell innovations and services help you optimize them.
Make well-informed decisions that optimize order and supply chain processes, customer satisfaction, and financial performance. Lightwell Illuminate OMS Analytics provides companies with comprehensive, actionable insights across their order, fulfillment, supply chain, and customer data. It reduces the time and cost of researching and compiling reports across multiple systems and brands.
We provide comprehensive, end-to-end services – ranging from assessments, architecture, implementations, managed services, and cloud solutions – to help you optimize your order management processes and inventory visibility. Our full spectrum of consulting and management solutions includes:
Lightwell brings new clarity to inventory visibility.
We’ll help bring inventory visibility to all who need it, driving better customer and business outcomes for your company.
Leverage our expertise to make real-time, global inventory visibility a reality for you. Contact us to explore what we can do together.