How Real-time Stock and Inventory Visibility Tools are Winning over Customers & Boosting Retail Sales

Retailers offering real-time stock & inventory visibility online benefit from Click & Collect & decentralised fulfilment, winning customers & selling more
min read
Retail Express Team
September 30, 2022
Retail Express Team
September 30, 2022

Table of contents

  • Real-time inventory visibility refers to the ability to view or track your inventory in real-time (using cloud software). It offers copious benefits for both retailers and customers.
  • Real-time inventory visibility improves the customer experience as shoppers can see stock availability at any channel. Then, they may choose popular fulfilment options such as Click & Collect for even more convenience.
  • Click & Collect is incredibly advantageous for retailers as it’s been repeatedly shown to attract customers with stronger buyer intent. And statistically, approximately 50% of these customers* are highly likely to purchase additional items upon collection.

Customers now demand stock availability online

It’s tough to keep up when the retail landscape continues to change faster than a New York minute. But luckily, technology continues to change just as fast. There are tools to make business life more manageable, overcome inventory visibility challenges, sell more, keep your customers happier and gain a compelling competitive advantage. 

Real-time inventory visibility software is one of those powerful tools. And accessing this tool is one of the benefits of switching to omnichannel retail (which today’s consumers also demand). With omnichannel, retailers have a POS solution that integrates with their eCommerce platform and physical stores.

Today, shoppers want to visit your online store and have real-time product visibility. They want to digitally search to find the best possible solution for their immediate needs. And they want options for where and when to get their goods.

Yes, customers want it all.

And this is why real-time inventory visibility and its much-appreciated cousin Click & Collect are becoming extremely popular.

Aussies and Kiwis love Click & Collect (BOPIS or Buy Online Pickup In-Store). According to Inside Retail, 41% of Australian retailers prefer Click & Collect as their primary means of fulfilment for purchases across many impulse categories. (Figures are higher again for groceries and medicine.)

How to Set up & Launch a Click & Collect Strategy: a Must Read for Retailers

The Benefits of Offering Click & Collect for Your Business and Customers

Offer your customers real-time stock levels online and in-store, along with Click & Collect, and you can enjoy:

  • Shoppers precisely seeing the available stock in each of your stores
  • Stock availability updated in real time (thanks to cloud software)
  • Shoppers choosing to pick up available items almost instantly

“There’s been a misconception that if shoppers research online, they purchase online. But... many of today’s shoppers start their buying journeys online... and may move through various touch points before purchasing...”.

Why is real-time stock visibility so popular?

There’s been a misconception that if shoppers research online, they complete their purchase online. But this is not so. Many of today’s shoppers start their buying journeys online. And they may move through several touch points before making a purchase.

But back to online research. Researching online is popular because it is the fastest, most convenient way to get reliable product information, including pricing and stock availability. And it can all be done in the privacy of their home.

Get a customised demo today with Retail Express to discover how our real-time stock availability tools can help your business prosper.

How to overcome online shopping frictions

Once shoppers have researched online, some may venture out to the stores to overcome perceived online shopping frictions. For example, how many times have you heard the following?:

  • “I can’t touch or feel the product. What if it looks different in real life?”
  • “I don’t want to wait for delivery. And what if the couriers come while I’m out?”
  • “It’s a hassle to return items I don’t like.”

So shoppers are now demanding the best of both worlds. Consumers want to research and find available products online (real-time stock in-store). But they also want to visit nearby physical stores to check the products before taking them home — or opt for Click & Collect. 

Until recently, this functionality was considered ‘the gold standard’. But now, it’s simply ‘standard’ if you want to stay in the race.

Display retail stock levels on your online store

“Say goodbye to tyre kickers and ice cream lickers and hello to informed, eager customers with credit cards in hand.”

Inventory visibility benefits: winning every way{Stock visibility: a win/win solution}

The benefits of inventory visibility are bountiful. Real-time stock availability on your eCommerce website offers an attractive win/win solution. By displaying this on your e-commerce website, you’ll delight your customers by giving them the time-saving information they demand. Plus, it enables you to offer that winning money-making machine, Click & Collect. You’ll enjoy far more in-store visitors with a stronger intent to purchase. (Say goodbye to tyre kickers and ice cream lickers and hello to informed, eager customers with credit cards in hand.)

And there are more benefits:

In-store visits are still the ideal way to nurture stronger customer loyalty and relationships. It’s just that now, retailers must offer both online and in-store services. And fortunately, shoppers favour retailers that provide both services — even when they may not be the cheapest option.

“What if you could tell your customers: “This item is in stock at a store close to your house, and you can pick it up right now”. The outcome? You increase your chance of a sale and open your customer to in-store opportunities (and larger basket sizes).”

How do stock availability tools work on an eCommerce site?

If you’re reserving a separate supply of goods to sell online, what happens when you run out? Rhetorical question. You lose the sale. And possibly the customer.

Alternatively, what if you could tell your customers: “This item is in stock at a store close to your house, and you can pick it up right now”? Then, you’re increasing your chance of a sale and exposing your customer to in-store experiences and larger basket sizes.

Further, with retail inventory visibility software, your staff can see where inventory is across all stores and warehouses and distribute the goods in the most economical way.

The secret to success: cloud-based software-

This new level of customer experience is a winner. But retailers must use the right software; otherwise, it can fail spectacularly. And the secret to its success lies in cloud POS software. There’s no waiting overnight for updates with cloud software; everything happens in real time.

When we say real-time stock in-store, you can rest assured that the information is accurate to the second. 

When we offer real-time Click & Collect, you can be confident customers can collect their items within hours — if not sooner.

To clarify: real-time stock levels vs real-time inventory levels-

‘Real-time stock levels’ and ‘real-time inventory levels’ are different, but sometimes the phrases are used interchangeably. In this article, we have focused on real-time stock levels because we are focusing on customer benefits.

However, retail businesses should also have excellent inventory management software that provides live inventory visibility in the supply chain, to track inventory levels in real time, giving all staff vital business information. Inventory, though, encapsulates a broader variety of assets. Let’s clarify this below:

What are real-time (or live) stock levels?{Live stock in-store & Click & Collect}

In retail, real-time stock levels (or real-time stock levels) refer to making visible the amount of finished products or goods you sell to customers.

What are live inventory levels?-

Live inventory levels display different assets the business owns or uses to complete production. The main types of inventory are raw materials, work in progress, e.g. products that may still require sealing or sewing; maintenance repair and operating supplies (tools and equipment for production) and finished goods (the completed products ready to be sold).

Make the switch to real-time stock levels online-

Implement real-time stock and retail inventory management software: and you can look forward to the following:

  • Give your customers the time-saving, precise information they demand
  • Show them where your stock is located, which almost certainly guarantees more foot traffic and sales
  • Keep your customers happy by offering more fulfilment options
  • Maximise the in-store visit opportunity by cross-selling or upselling the customer
  • Reap the benefits of an increased basket size by last-minute purchases during Click & Collect
  • Increase the customer experience and hence loyalty and branding
  • Never miss a sale! By revealing stock availability online, you have far more of a chance to make that sale — and not miss out

At Retail Express, our fully integrated eCommerce and POS software give you the tools you need to dominate your marketplace.

Get a customised demo today to discover how retailers like you have successfully implemented real-time stock availability methods with Retail Express.

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