Here’s a quick question for you: do you have an accurate idea of your inventory? Can you give a detailed report of the items you currently have in stock within the next hour?
The general neglect of inventory management by vendors is quite surprising. And more often than not, this neglect directly or indirectly affects the customer shopping experience.
86 percent of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience. You don’t want to jeopardize this with a terrible inventory management system. Great inventory management can be the change you need to leave your competitors in the dust.
But how does it work? Below are some of the ways it improves the customer experience. As far as inventory management goes, these are the best practices to improve customer satisfaction and retention.
1. It Improves Stock List and Order Fulfillment Accuracy
Almost every online shopper has experience with a botched delivery. Either the item delivered to them is inferior to what they ordered or they get a different product entirely.
There’s even a “what I ordered vs. what I got” trend on social media describing such scenarios. Sometimes this happens not because the seller intended to sell a bad product but as a direct result of poor inventory management.
Some sellers have poor-quality products in stock but fail to realize it because they’re not fully aware of what’s in their inventory. When a buyer places an order, they ship off the inferior product to the buyer. The defective product is probably all they have and they fail to realize it until it’s too late.
Streamlined inventory management can help to prevent such errors. With a streamlined system, you’ll always be up to date. You’ll know what’s available at any time and can monitor the quality of your wares. This way, you’ll only list the items you have and with an accurate depiction of their quality, ensuring customers get what they order.
2. It Prevents Stock-Outs
Stock-outs are annoying for customers. Imagine admiring an item online, then as you’re about to make a purchase, you find it isn’t available. This is an error that can be detrimental to the sustainability of your business. Customers won’t care for an explanation; they’ll simply move on to the next vendor.
You want to avoid stock-out situations as much as possible. This is easy to do; the trick is in maintaining a perpetual inventory management system.
A perpetual inventory system allows you to record when you receive or sell an item in real-time. Thanks to live updates, you get accurate information regarding your products and how many you have.
Since you know what you have, you can restock if you’re running low on particular items. In doing so, you avoid ruining the customer’s experience with stock-out scenarios. Also, when an item is not available, you know to list it as unavailable so customers are not disappointed.
3. It Supports Effective Lead Time Management
Did you know a quick delivery is a unique selling point for many top brands? Lead time is a major part of the customer experience, and customers love it when you ship their orders fast.
Lead time is the time it takes you to pick pack and ship the product after the buyer places their order. It’s also sometimes called handling or processing time.
The time it takes to sort through items in your inventory extends your lead time. Mismanaged inventory makes it a hassle to find a product, pack it, and send it. Inevitably, you take more time to get the order to the customer. However, with streamlined inventory management, the lead time is lessened.
A streamlined inventory management system will keep you abreast of the location of your items. This means you can drastically reduce the time to find, sort, pack, and ship the order.
A lower lead time translates to happier customers too. The faster you can get the ordered items to them, the better their experience will be.
4. Automation Improves Accuracy and Removes Human Error
Inventory management is boring and monotonous. The work involved is menial, repetitive, and doesn’t incite any form of creative energy. That makes it just the sort of task you want to automate.
If you’re wondering “what is attended automation”, it’s an RPA solution that takes the bulk of the work from your hands and allows your employees to focus on other, more important things.
Automation increases accuracy. It’s easy to mix up the numbers when you’re doing the job manually, but automation prevents such errors. This is why it should be part of your streamlined inventory management system. Its benefits are numerous, but most importantly, automation simplifies the shopping process for you and your customers.
By getting rid of inefficiencies using automation, you can improve the shopping experience. You can also focus on other ways to better satisfy your shoppers.
5. It Makes Handling Returns Easier
How do you handle returns? Now and then, customers are going to return goods, usually because the item is damaged or incorrect.
When customers return items that are still under warranty, you can arrange an instant swap with the manufacturer. Or, if you have more of the goods in your inventory, you can quickly send a replacement to the customer. Either way, you resolve the issue and regain the customer’s trust quickly.
However, you need proper inventory management to be able to achieve this. This allows you to maintain the extra inventory levels necessary to attend to return cases and improve your customers’ experience.
Customer Experience is Now A Necessity
More than two-thirds of companies now compete primarily based on customer experience. This means a satisfactory experience is no longer a mere marketing stunt.
It has become a basic requirement for the success of a business. Proper inventory management may be all you need to improve your customer service and experience significantly, so don’t neglect it!