“Digital transformation is the prerequisite for a successful omnichannel experience”
By Katja Laska (a EuroCIS.mag exclusive)
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced several retailers to reinvent themselves. Many have embraced omnichannel commerce, making inventory management a crucial element of their strategy.
Mr. Matuszewski, what are the latest (technology) trends in retail?
It’s clear that the retail industry is charting new paths to the future. The shift to omnichannel commerce is an especially exciting trend that has been supercharged by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It was the type of boost many retailers needed to adapt to a fundamental change in consumer sentiment and buying behavior. Although this transformation has been in the works for several years, the impact of pandemic restrictions – including mandatory store closures – forced traditional brick-and-mortar businesses to find alternate ways to sell their products to customers. Another important technology trend retailers must embrace to survive is the use of artificial intelligence as this is becoming the only way to respond to short-term market changes successfully. AI has evolved as a valuable tool, especially as it pertains to procurement and distribution, but also as it relates to the allocation of merchandise across branches or retail marketing strategies. A third trend is cashless payments. It marks yet another area retailers must adapt to and offer solutions to meet the ever-evolving needs of customers.
What role do digitalization and automation play in retail at this point?
Digital transformation is the prerequisite for a successful omnichannel experience. To connect, continually serve and improve, analyze, and monitor all sales and distribution channels and customer touchpoints means the retail industry needs digital tools to manage these complex tasks. The automation of subtasks is yet another important issue in this setting. Automation has given employees invaluable support, especially in terms of scheduling and procurement. Many customers have given us this feedback in the recent past.
Why should retailers have faith in digital inventory management software?
If you analyze omnichannel commerce trends, it’s obvious that inventory management plays an increasingly important role. Apart from physical stores, you have additional sales channels, which include an online store, marketplaces, or social media. Each channel comes with its own unique consumer buying behavior and sales trajectory. That is why it is no longer enough to simply rely on well-known, established patterns when it comes to inventory management because new trends and patterns emerge nearly every day. Depending on the number of items in your product portfolio – and retailers have quite a few – tracking everything via Excel spreadsheets is no longer an option. To be successful, companies need software that helps guide them and supports procurement managers in ensuring availability of products and logistics optimization.
How do customers benefit from using these software solutions?
Key advantages are optimal product availability and speedy delivery times for customers. Inventory management software enables retailers to make reliable forecasts of future sales. This helps optimize scheduling and disposition and allows businesses to immediately respond to changing market conditions. At the end of the day, the goal is always to maximize service to customers without increasing the cost of holding inventory. Inventory management software helps retailers to have the right items in the right place at the right time – whether that’s in the central warehouse, in the regional warehouse or right in the store.
What is your advice for retailers who want to use this type of software? What aspects should they consider and what requirements must be met?
I should point out that you won’t solve problems just by having inventory management software. First and foremost, companies should develop a strategy on how they plan to organize sales, inventory management and operations in the future. Once this strategic plan is in place, software helps to track and implement the respective processes. To introduce a software solution, companies should team up with an experienced partner who is an industry expert and can provide the right support to lead them to success.
Want to experience the latest omnichannel solutions for retail? Technologies for Connected Retail and Customer Centricity are two of the HOT TOPICS, you shouldn’t miss at EuroCIS 2022.