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Multichannel Inventory Management: the Perils of Disconnected Channels

Blog Post
We dig into 3 true-to-life scenarios to show you what can happen in your organization with and without an omnichannel order management system (OMS).
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Multichannel inventory management software isn’t a nice-to-have anymore. Now that we’ve entered an omnichannel age, it’s a necessity for streamlined fulfillment, strategic product sourcing, and virtually everything else.  

But it can be difficult to see the value of multi-platform inventory management beyond product procurement. So, in this post, we’re digging into 3 true-to-life scenarios to show you what can happen in your organization with and without an omnichannel order management system (OMS).   

Support Ticket Resolution  

When your customers reach out for help, they expect you to be able to solve their problems quickly and effectively. In fact, Zendesk found that this was the most important aspect of customer service to roughly 60% of their surveyed shoppers.  

But the speed and quality of your service is largely dependent on how connected your systems are. Here’s how support ticket resolution can look when you rely on an omnichannel OMS to manage inventory across multiple channels.  

With an Omnichannel OMS 

Using an omnichannel order management system, your customer care agents can check an order’s status in real-time rather than directing customers to enter their tracking number into a carrier’s website or providing vague delivery timelines.  

And if the product is back-ordered or the order fulfillment timeframe is too long, representatives can intervene directly, by helping the customer cancel the original order and place a new BOPIS order at a store location with a faster pick-up time.  

Without Multichannel Inventory Management 

On the flip side, if your customer support agents don’t have access to the information they need, your customers may be left to hunt down tracking details on their own or reorder the product themselves. This can put a large mark on your customer experience and lead to a significantly higher churn rate.   

Siloed eCommerce Sales Channels 

Selling products on multiple channels is an easy way to cater to all of your customers’ needs. Not only can they shop on their preferred channel (i.e. eCommerce platforms like your Shopify or BigCommerce store or online marketplaces like Amazon or Etsy), but they can also jump between digital channels and brick-and-mortar locations as they do product research and make purchases. Multichannel inventory management solutions make a huge difference to the success of your sales operations, though. Here’s how.  

With an Omnichannel OMS 

When you employ an omnichannel OMS, you sync inventory across your organization into a single platform. As a result, your customers can access all of your products from any channel, and they can find a fulfillment option that best suits them. This includes methods like store fulfillment that bridge the gap between online shopping and in-store inventory.   

At the same time, this inventory management system ensures that your stock levels stay where they need to in order to continuously fulfill customer orders quickly.  

Without Multi-Platform Inventory Management 

The opposite is true when you don’t have a unified view of your inventory. Not only are stockouts more likely, since each channel has fewer places to source inventory from, but order fulfillment times can stretch from hours or days into weeks as you restock your individual warehouses for each channel and find available carriers to deliver channel-specific orders.  

Limited Inventory Forecasting 

Having a clear picture of your inventory levels impacts your ability to forecast future buying behavior, manage your pricing, and source products strategically. And here again, multichannel inventory management is the key. 

With Multichannel Inventory Management Software 

Since an omnichannel OMS allows you to track inventory SKUs in all of your stores and fulfillment centers in real-time, predictive analytics is more effective when you have one. You can use it to see which products and sales channels are most popular. The metrics can tell you which locations are experiencing the most demand. And your teams can pinpoint the fulfillment trends that are on the rise.  

As a result, you can proactively replenish inventory for product listings that are trending to make sure you never oversell. You can also use current trends to predict future demand for new products, so you always have a healthy inventory turnover rate.  

Without an Omnichannel OMS 

When you don’t have these insights, you’re left to chance and educated guessing. As a result, you can miss out on opportunities that would boost customer satisfaction, streamline product sourcing, and optimize inventory management.  

While many retailers and eCommerce businesses are able to manage their channels without an omnichannel system, there are a lot of perils that come with that decision. Besides limiting their ability to forecast inventory, they also risk a greater number of stockouts, poorer customer service, and longer order cycle times.  

Thus, moving forward, businesses should consider multichannel inventory management to improve their operations and enhance their customer experience.