A source of great innovation was also one of the biggest challenges for retailers over the past year: getting products to customers faster, more effectively, and safely.
Balancing product availability and demand, and effective application of inventory management technologies is a key component of supply chain processes and one that can influence the entire retail implementation strategy of a company.
Too much or too little stock, delivered inefficiently in the wrong places at the wrong time, can have adverse effects on your top-line revenue, selling throughs, margins, and, most importantly, your customer experience and loyalty.
Of course, inventory management is not new, but it has become increasingly sophisticated and an important differentiator for brands who want their consumers to perform consistently (pun intended).
Inventory Management And Customer Service
Management of inventory is more than just effectively moving and organizing inventory. It is about making the customers satisfied as well. It involves all the large and small parts involved in the logistics of keeping inventory flowing at an optimal rate in and out of the warehouse.
It means always keeping enough parts and products on hand at all times to reach and even surpass the needs of your customers while preventing too many items on hand because, if you are not careful, this can lead to increased shipping costs, inefficient use of warehouse space, and even product spoilage and obsolescence.
The way you handle your customers is customer service, and inventory management is how you keep the best products in your stores and warehouses to treat your customers right. If you do not have the products in your inventory, you will not keep a promise. It is therefore highly important that you carefully handle your inventory and avoid letting your customers down. Inventory management has a big effect on customer service. We will learn more about that in this blog.
How Can Inventory Management Benefit Customer Service?
1. Reducing the Likelihood of Error
Inventory management systems provide transparency on how much of a company’s products are stored, where those assets are stored, and what orders can be connected to at any given moment. In addition, new inventory management systems help warehouse operators easily locate the parts they need and make it simpler in near real-time to change inventory levels. These factors add up to create an environment in which:
- If fewer things get lost, shrinkage rates are decreased.
- To prevent inventory levels from falling to problematic levels, damaged items are announced quickly.
- In order to ensure asset inventory keeps up with demand, repurchase orders are sent automatically when supply levels drop below preset parameters.
- To match sales and marketing strategies with product availability, teams across business lines may gain insight into inventory levels.
- To allow for mobile data collection, barcode scanners or voice picking headsets are used, reducing the potential for error during data entry.
These capabilities combine to have a dramatic effect inside the warehouse on reliability. Because of this, the potential for error is reduced and organizations can create stronger customer experiences.
2. Giving Customers a Better Purchasing Experience
If you have ever been in a situation where you have tried to buy an item online that is only available in limited quantities due to manufacturing constraints, you might know how it feels to click “add to cart” only to try and check out and discover that no items are available for sale. If the order is processed, it is even worse and you can not find out until days later.
Through tight integration between web platforms and CRM solutions, modern e-commerce companies have started working around this issue.
The retail CRM can communicate with inventory management systems and customer order processing solutions to support the end-user experience, and receive feedback from each on a regular basis. This enables the system to link to the website to warn users when inventories are low or even provide a precise count of how many units of a given product are available for sale.
3. Keeping Costs Under Control
For a long time, lean operations have been the basis for warehouse operations, and eliminating out unnecessary procedures will allow businesses to distribute savings to consumers. This is especially obvious in inventory management, where companies have the potential to generate new value, but only if they are still able to retain transparency.
In a wide variety of industries, consumer preferences are shifting towards the smartphone and online markets. Organizations that wish to keep pace with these new demands need to analyze carefully how activities can be accelerated while holding costs under control. Investing in open-source CRM and upgrading processes will lay the foundations for greater customization and customer experiences.
The warehouse does not have to be a sink in costs. Instead, companies have a chance to improve their processes to the extent where competitive advantage is given by distribution capabilities.
4. Return Management
Just as a company does not want consumers to return goods, customers do not want the return process to be a hassle either. When it comes to stock returns, inventory management lets you handle the customer experience.
An inventory management system can monitor important data on returned items and give you the option of maintaining additional levels of inventory that reflect your return rates.
Additionally, to reduce the rate of returns, you should track reasons for returns and address problems, helping to maintain customer loyalty.
5. Fast Order Fulfillment Process
Increasingly, customers are demanding fast order delivery times, meaning businesses have less time to pick, pack, and ship products. To minimize the order fulfillment time, fast order fulfillment relies on efficient inventory management and efficient warehouse operations.
To boost delivery times, hasten dispatch and increase the pace at which customer orders are fulfilled, warehouse and storage areas need to be coordinated and inventory stock must be conveniently placed.
Implementing an integrated retail CRM will streamline the process of fulfilling your order, and analytical tools will help identify items that are easy and slow to transport. This will allow you to have popular products available to satisfy a customer’s order instantly while reducing your slow-moving stock levels. Subsequently, the reasons for keeping inventory as a buffer or safety stock would be reduced.
The aim of inventory management is to improve the productivity and profitability of an organization by allowing it to better meet its clients’ needs. This encourages different departments within a business to work together to increase their level of customer service.
Delivering great customer service and a positive customer experience every time begins long before a sales transaction takes place. You will boost lead times, save cash and ensure greater satisfaction and customer loyalty by adopting smarter practices and procedures to maximize inventory accuracy.
Optimal inventory management is all about getting what the customer needs, when, and where they want it, while it is about meeting and satisfying consumer standards with excellent customer service. Auro CRM is the right system for inventory management that would allow you to perform on both. Auro CRM will help you balance the seasonal merchandise flow, helping you to better satisfy customer demand for products without ending each season with excess inventory stock.