What Is Omnichannel Retail?

What Is Omnichannel Retail?

Although the word omnichannel is often used in retail, it is a term that is often misunderstood. Here is an explanation of what omnichannel means, how it works, and how it can help you increase your profits.

1. What is a retail sales channel?

Sales channels refer to every different method used by retailers to sell their products to customers. Sales channels go beyond brick & mortar stores. Other sales channels could be events, trade shows, resellers, dealers, curbside pickup, and on-the-go pickup. Additionally, sales channels can also include social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok), SMS, instant messaging, and even Google Ads.

Most retailers start off selling on a single channel. This can be a physical brick and mortar store or an online only webstore. Prior to the pandemic, an increasing number of retailers have started to add new sales channels to their businesses as shoppers now expect to be able to shop and pre-shop in more than one place.

2. What is omnichannel?

Omnichannel is a fully-integrated retail experience for shoppers. So when omnichannel works, it means customers will have the same experience no matter which sales channel they use. A customer who buys products from a brick & mortar store should have the same experience as one who uses social media channels to buy products. This is the ideal outcome for a successful omnichannel retail business.

Buy online, pickup in store diagram for omnichannel retail

What many retailers aren’t as familiar with, is that retailers must use a system that can share sales, inventory, and customer information (data) across all sales channels to be able to offer omnichannel retail. This means handling all store sales and fulfillment of online orders under a single login. In particular, omnichannel systems make store-managed e-commerce such as “buy online pickup in-store” a lot more efficient.

A successful system handles data for sales, inventory and customer information across all brick & mortar stores, online storefronts, ecommerce marketplaces, mobile channels/apps (WhatsApp), and social media commerce (Facebook or Instagram Shop). You should be able to sell to your customers no matter where they shop. In the past, omnichannel systems were expensive and only available to very large retailers. However, today’s modern cloud systems have made it possible for small-to-mid-sized retailers to take advantage of the cost-savings and sales boosting benefits of omnichannel retail.

3. What is the difference between multichannel & omnichannel?

It’s important not to confuse omnichannel with multichannel, despite their similarities. Like omnichannel, multichannel refers to retailers selling to customers through different sales channels. Yet, in a multichannel setup, these channels are not integrated. 

Unlike omnichannel, multichannel does not unify the customer experience. And more importantly, multichannel retail costs merchants a lot more money because they need to log into separate tools or channels to manage inventory separately, or see sales and customer history. This is a time-consuming process that can lead to lost sales and errors. It also increases the complexity of your sales and tax management. Additionally, multichannel increases the cost of managing inventory if sales are being fulfilled from the store or the same place.

Multichannel retail costs a lot more money to run because a retailer needs to manage her or his business in separate tools or channels.

4. Why is omnichannel retail important?

Omnichannel selling offers a data-driven approach to retail. As stock levels change, you will want to know the product levels in every channel. A good omnichannel system will do this automatically. This means you will never have to manually manage stockouts. A good omnichannel system will also increase sales by highlighting your best customers across all sales channels. It will focus on faster fulfill of every sale, no matter where the sale originates.

Omnichannel systems are increasingly effective at attracting people to brick & mortar locations. They do this by linking to Google to drive foot traffic to stores based on how close nearby shoppers are to available stock. This increases overall profits by increasing in-store and sales conversion rates.

The goal is a memorable and positive experience for your customers. Omnichannel can make this happen.

TAKU Retail can provide you with a comprehensive and integrated omnichannel strategy that will remove friction between channels. Because TAKU is cloud-based, it can function on any device since it’s not tied to any specific type of hardware. This enables you to use any existing web-enabled devices from desktop computers or tablets to smartphones.

TAKU can not only help you increase sales and reduce operational costs, but it can also help you get in front of shoppers before they even leave their homes. Click below to find out about other ways TAKU Retail can help you achieve a successful omnichannel system for your business.

Omnichannel retail with TAKU Retail
Why It’s Important To Offer BOPIS With An Omnichannel System

Why It’s Important To Offer BOPIS With An Omnichannel System

Shoppers now expect the perk of Buy Online Pick Up In-Store to be a given. However, you need to consider the operations of your retail business before you can offer BOPIS. Without support from modern retail software, BOPIS runs the risk of decreasing customer satisfaction.

Being able to find exactly what they want at the price point they need will undoubtedly thrill shoppers. However, if the second half of the process falls short of expectations, it will drive customers to search elsewhere and put the business lower on their list of trusted retailers.

1. Accurate inventory information without extra staff

Omnichannel inventory management

Retail expert Suzanne Sears notes that more and more consumers are feeling confident about returning to in-person shopping. She says “Pent-up savings among consumers, who have greater access to products than services, are making purchases. This has created a demand for work in warehousing, shipping, supply chain, buying, stores, e-commerce, and right on through the entire operation.” This has significantly impacted the search for qualified new hires. Staffing shortages have become a widespread problem. Businesses across North America are not only struggling to find employees but also struggling to keep them around.


Reduced staff means there are fewer employees available to manually track inventory across multiple systems. Understaffed stores cannot handle these challenges, resulting in inventory accuracy as low as 70%. This means that at any given time, nearly a third of inventory stock can be inaccurate. This is especially true with high-traffic or high-inventory stores, many of which are understaffed today. In order to offer BOPIS successfully, retailers will have to invest in a system with real-time inventory across all sales channels. This will let them provide the type of inventory availability accuracy that today’s shoppers expect.

2. Automatically attract more local customers

The best omnichannel systems today will not only help retailers effectively offer Buy Online Pick Up In-Store, they will help them automatically attract more nearby shoppers. Because real-time omnichannel solutions such as TAKU are able to provide reliable, accurate inventory information and real-time stock availability, they are able to connect to local marketing tools to automatically drive more foot traffic in store.

Omnichannel systems such as TAKU help retailers manage all of their inventory across all sales channels with a single, smart product feed . The feed can then be connected to Google Merchant Center and Google My Business. This integration is a built-in feature of TAKU that automatically helps retailers can be found more easily on Google. By plugging their store inventory into a free product showcase called ‘See What’s In Store’, retailers can easily show real-time stock availability in store. Where before large retailers would need to hire agencies or staff to upload products into Google manually, modern omnichannel systems are able to do this without any data entry and stock levels update instantly as you sell in-store or online.

Omnichannel data integrated to Google to drive local traffic to store.
TAKU Retail helps you automatically showcase your products on Google

The retail market is increasingly competitive, retailers need proper inventory management to compete. A system that automatically updates all stock quantity info right away (no matter where or when the sale takes place) is essential. That is why retailers will need to make investments in modern inventory systems. It will allow them to ensure they have properly implemented BOPIS.

See How TAKU Can Help With Seamless BOPIS

TAKU is a single retail platform that will put you in the driver’s seat. It enables you to manage all of your in-store and online operations in a single place. Whether you have 5,000 or 100,000 SKUs, TAKU lets you quickly import customer and inventory data from your current POS, feed file, or e-commerce platform. Unlike other retail cloud platforms, TAKU is customizable and crazy fast in-store and online. With an easy-to-use design and built-in training tools, set-up is faster than many other systems. Never manage products or stock levels in different systems again.

Learn more about how TAKU works by clicking below.

A graphic depicting a woman picking up local products through BOPIS. Link to a webpage of TAKU Retail's features.
What is Buy Online Pick Up In-Store?

What is Buy Online Pick Up In-Store?

BOPIS, also known as “Buy Online Pick Up In-Store,” is an important feature that today’s shoppers expect when shopping with their favorite retailers. Sometimes referred to as “Click and Collect,” Buy Online Pick Up In-Store is exactly what the name describes. Your customers shop for and purchase your products online and then pick them up in person at one of your physical locations.

Curbside Pickup is a form of Buy Online Pick Up In-Store that increased in popularity in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic restricted many retail stores from offering in-person shopping. BOPIS and online shopping continues to grow as customers find it convenient to “pre-shop.” 

Buy Online Pick Up In-Store should be an essential feature for any retail business, but especially for merchants running physical stores that target local shoppers. According to an Invesp survey, a whopping 50% of people surveyed said that they decided where to shop online based on whether or not they could pick up in-store. 

Here are 6 reasons why more and more shoppers are choosing to use BOPIS and why retailers need to offer the option.

1. Increase profitability with BOPIS

When customers purchase items online and pick them up at one of your retail locations, it significantly decreases the cost of fulfillment. According to John Mulligan, Target’s COO, Buy Online Pick Up In-Store purchases are 90% cheaper to fulfill than orders shipped from a warehouse.

Benefits of BOPIS infographic with TAKU Retail
The benefits of BOPIS.

That’s not the only way that Buy Online Pick Up In-Store reduces costs and increases profitability. It also cuts down the cost of packing materials and requires a lot less labor because the order only needs to be picked instead of being picked and packed up for ship out. As a result, there is no need to offer free shipping or cover the cost of shipping fees with Buy Online Pick Up In-Store. This will not only save you money, but it will also save your customers money. 

2. Avoid shipping costs & shipping delays

Shipping costs stock image

Shoppers increasingly expect free shipping. But a recent study conducted by Hanover Research and LaserShip, the largest regional e-commerce parcel carrier in the U.S., reveals that shipping rates are rising faster than they have in a decade. Not only have there been general rate increases but 64% of top online retailers are struggling with an off-schedule price increase. The study indicates “nearly half (49%) of these increases are price hikes between 10% and 19% and another quarter (27%) fall between 5% and 9% increases.”

At the same time, the pandemic has significantly increased the demand for shipping, overwhelming many shipping companies. An earlier study indicated that the U.S domestic package market was on track to reach 100 million packages per day by 2026. That number is now expected to be reached in 2022, with e-commerce responsible for 86% of that growth. This greater overall demand has driven up the cost for retailers to ship out online orders that often require free or subsidized shipping, and increased delivery delays.

Besides shipping costs themselves, BOPIS is also more environmentally friendly for small to medium physical retailers that target mainly local shoppers or carry products that are costly to ship (e.g. bulky or fragile products). If you don’t have the ability to ship from a warehouse or a dark store, using a lot of single-use packaging material or shipping out products that were already shipped once to the store or already merchandised on shelves is wasteful and causes unnecessary emissions. BOPIS encourages shoppers to buy from local, nearby stores instead of having something shipped from much further away or packaged with a lot of disposable packaging materials.

3. BOPIS leads to lower rates of return

In addition, items picked up in-store result in significantly lower rates of return. This is because merchants are more likely to check purchases when they are picking up items so returns are avoided before products leave the store. And returning in store is something that the majority of shoppers want. An Inmar Intelligence survey from July 2020 found 58% would prefer to return purchases in a store.

And lowering return rates is key to ecommerce margins as it is becoming increasingly costly for retailers to handle the return process. Although some retailers do offer to cover return shipping costs, this is becoming less possible as the overall cost of shipping increases. Bloomberg reports that return costs for retailers rose 59% in 2021 and added that it now costs $33 dollars for a retailer to process the return of a $50 item. Forcing customers to mail returns adds to their frustration, making it less likely that they will want to repeat the experience. By allowing them to return items in-store, they don’t have to deal with the inconvenience and expense of mailing orders back.

Again, the shipping cost of returns is only part of the story. Oftentimes retailers will need to spend extra money to cover the cost of offering return-friendly boxes otherwise they risk the chance of receiving returned goods that are unsellable due to damage during the return trip. With e-commerce return rates almost 3x higher than with in-store shopping, this means a 3x higher chance that returned goods are unsellable at their original price. The waste of damaged goods along with 2x the amount of disposable packaging materials just adds to the true environmental cost of shipping out online orders vs. BOPIS for local retailers.

4. Reduces merchant processing costs

With so many retailers starting to sell online since the pandemic started, many merchants now know that e-commerce sales generally require higher merchant processing fees to accept payments online versus payments taken in person in store. But once you take into account that return rates can be 3x higher with online orders, this means that retailers pay significantly higher merchant processing fees in general with online orders because any fees that are paid during any sale is lost during a return. Returned sales do not refund transaction fees. Some processors even charge additional return fees. This is why it’s important to consider features such as BOPIS to reduce returns and/or even take more payments in store.

5. Increase shopper basket size

Increase customer basket size with TAKU Retail
Increase your consumers’ basket sizes.

One of the biggest reasons why Buy Online Pick Up In-Store is often more profitable for retailers is that it increases the opportunity for bigger orders and for impulse buys. Research indicates that 75% of shoppers who’ve used BOPIS will make an additional purchase and 49% of shoppers go on to make additional purchases while picking up their items in store. Not only does this result in a more satisfied customer, but it also means more profit or higher margin sales for retailers with minimal effort.

Creating a separate section for BOPIS pickups means that shoppers don’t have to wait in long lines. And placing items strategically in the BOPIS section will also benefit retailers since having a positive experience makes customers more likely to purchase other items while they’re in-store. In-store retail management systems such as TAKU are great for upselling during the BOPIS pickup process as they have the ability to handle all orders and take payment for add-ons, all under a single login. So the same staff member helping a customer pull his pickup order can also accept payment from him for those extra high-margin impulse buys he wants to add.

6. Increases customer satisfaction and loyalty

Buy Online Pick Up In-Store gives businesses that have both an online and brick-and-mortar presence a competitive advantage over those retailers that only offer online shopping. Customers can choose between shopping online, in–person, or a mixture of both. BOPIS allows customers to shop from anywhere at any time. They are no longer restricted to retail business hours which means they benefit from the convenience, flexibility, and faster service that BOPIS provides, especially to local shoppers.

Satisfied customer and increased customer loyalty

BOPIS also gives customers visibility into which stores have a given product in stock, helping them avoid wasted trips and thus improving their overall shopping experience. Customers can get an accurate view of which items are in stock at a particular retail location, so they don’t have to waste time getting to a physical store only to find out that the item they want isn’t available. 

Michael Ketzenberg, a professor of the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University, feels retailers should embrace and aggressively market BOPIS, stating in Harvard Business Review that “It’s more profitable than other omnichannel services and it gives retailers the opportunity to offer a small discount or other incentives to encourage customers to opt for the BOPIS option, creating a win-win for both the customer and the business.”


Want to learn how to easily integrate BOPIS into your business?

Why Retail Stores Need To Use Cloud POS Software

Why Retail Stores Need To Use Cloud POS Software

To keep up with shoppers today, merchants need a modern cloud POS software that will allow them to quickly adapt to market changes and easily sell both in-store and online. Cloud technology offers that flexibility.

The Coronavirus pandemic changed the way that consumers shop, work, and live. Retail is no exception. In 2020, over 80% of consumers shopped at least once online. Since the pandemic, there have been new sales strategies that retailers are adopting such as contactless payment, curbside pickup, virtual consultations, and even social commerce (purchasing products through social media). According to retail experts and shopper surveys, this new behavior is here to stay.

What Is Cloud POS Software?

Retail Cloud POS

A cloud POS system is a retail management software that doesn’t need to be installed anywhere. Instead of maintaining a server computer in your physical store, cloud POS companies host your information on secure third-party services such as Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure. This is different to traditional POS systems which can only be installed and/or used on specific devices.

Cloud-based systems has advantages in the current shopper environment when compared to installed software. Some obvious advantages are its flexibility and affordability. These characteristics make a huge difference during uncertain times and are key reasons why more merchants are switching to cloud-based systems than ever before.

Until the pandemic started, multi-location retailers were the businesses most likely to look at cloud-based POS. This makes a lot of sense since the sharing of information between different stores is much harder with traditional POS systems. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increased the demand for online sales options. For retailers with only a single physical store, this means that they need to manage customers and inventory between in-store and online sales.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the main benefits of replacing your traditional retail POS with a cloud-based system.

The Benefits Of Cloud POS Software For Retailers Today

1. Real-Time Inventory Management Across Your Entire Business

inventory management

As traditional shoppers are increasingly buying online for store pick-up or delivery, retailers need a solid strategy to keep track of inventory, This can be stressful for retailers since online sales are often handled separately from traditional POS systems. Keeping track of inventory history and stock levels everywhere you sell is critical as stock-outs can lead to upset customers and lost sales.

A lot of traditional POS solutions have “cloud” options but many of these are clunky, remote workarounds that don’t sync inventory across locations in real-time, often break down, require expensive third-party tools and technical support to fix.

With uncertain demand throughout the pandemic, managing inventory can be difficult with traditional systems. This is because these systems are sometimes separate or sync only once a day can be a serious drain on resources and finances. The pandemic has also made it even harder for merchants to afford the staff necessary to manually manage inventory or check stock levels because the quantities in the POS system aren’t accurate.

With a modern cloud-based retail POS platform, retailers are able to do all of the following within a single software:

  • share the same products across all locations and digital channels
  • split the same product stock quantities by store, website or warehouse
  • easily create new stores or stock splits to re-allocate inventory at any time
  • give staff the ability to check all locations for real-time product availability
  • control exactly how much access staff have to see costs and inventory details
  • fulfill online sales from stores for pickup or delivery with ease
  • buy online, pay in-store during pickup
  • buy online, add more / exchange / return in-store
  • minimize stock-outs because you can quickly adjust purchasing or move stock quantities around as sales happen, not after the fact

2. Flexibility To Work From Anywhere, On Any Device

Work anywhere with a smart cloud POS

A cloud-based retail POS system provides greater mobility which basically means that retailers can sell from anywhere inside the store, outside the store or online 24/7. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that retailers need this kind of flexibility in their business. During the recent lockdowns, retailers with access to their POS systems from anywhere were able to immediately work from home or take payments outside of their stores during order pickup. 

Modern systems such as TAKU Retail can function on any device which makes it even more cost-effective for retailers to adopt. True cloud systems are not tied to any specific device. Where earlier cloud systems are limited to only a single type of hardware (e.g. iPads), the latest cloud POS systems allow retailers to use any existing web-enabled devices. Similar to how people sharing a Netflix account can watch shows on Windows or Mac computers, Android or Apple smart devices, people selling using a cloud POS can work off of any of these devices together. This type of flexibility helps merchants reduce the overall cost of hardware, even as they grow, since almost any existing device can be turned into a station.

And accessibility doesn’t refer only to selling or accessing reports. While older installed or cloud systems only give retailers access to specific functions, true cloud systems give you full access to all of the features in the software so you can run your business from anywhere. This also includes managing access rights all from one dashboard. If you’re a larger retailer, you should be able to quickly manage (or revise) the access rights for each staff member across all devices wherever you happen to be working.

3. Manage Shoppers From Every Channel In One Dashboard

unified POS

While the Coronavirus pandemic will pass, changes in consumer shopping habits are here to stay. Retail consumers are now shopping locally, cost-consciously, and digitally. Being there for your customers wherever they are is often called “omnichannel retail” or “unified commerce”.

What’s important to remember is that being omnichannel is about more than simply making sales in all channels. It’s about providing a seamless experience for shoppers. It means making it easier for shoppers to find you, buy from you or even bring something back to you. There’s no doubt that taking orders online is important to the survival of a lot of retailers during the pandemic. But in the long-term, omnichannel retailers are more profitable because they have more opportunities to engage with their shoppers across different channels. And omnichannel drives higher-margins in-store sales together with the convenience of online 24/7 shopping.

Another thing to keep in mind is that online sales naturally come with higher return rates as shoppers make mistakes or shipments are damaged. Being able to manage all of your sales and returns across all channels from stores is important to minimize returns and to minimize the costs of these returns – e.g. by offering in-store returns or exchanges to avoid losing sales or paying double the processing fees.

4. Cloud POS Software Grows With You More Easily 

retail store growth

Many retailers experienced significant growth in online sales and store pickup during the pandemic. In fact, in some essential sectors, traditional stores were unable to keep up with the demand as they struggled to handle the sudden boost in traffic. 

As your business grows and becomes more complex, your retail management system must be able to accommodate new stores, new sales channels, new employees, and new product lines without any limitations. A flexible unified commerce system will have the built-in options required for you to adapt as your business grows. This includes functions such as unlimited physical stores, unlimited back office users, unlimited stock quantity splits and customizable tax rules. With customizable settings, fast onboarding support and transparent pricing, modern cloud systems offer retail owners a flexible tailored solution that can easily scale without hidden costs.

5. Automatically Be Found Online Locally

Google integration with POS

With shopping behavior shifting constantly throughout the pandemic, being able to track, manage, and engage with customers across all channels is key for long-term success. An all-in-one cloud POS software allows you to handle all of your touchpoints from in-store shopping and curbside pickup to local delivery, all under a single login. It allows retailers to be flexible with their business processes and adapt quickly when the environment changes.

With traditional systems, data needs to be manually managed between different sales channels. In comparison, cloud-based systems give merchants access to shared retail data which makes it significantly easier for them to see trends as they happen in real-time.

Built with next-generation technology, modern cloud platforms are even able to help retailers leverage their own retail data to attract more shoppers. As the first POS company to be a Trusted Google Partner, TAKU is the first platform in the industry to automatically help retailers be found online by people searching nearby for what they sell. Not only can newer cloud POS systems increase sales when shoppers are engaged, they can now help retailers get in front of shoppers before they even leave their homes.

Make sure you’re using retail technology that can keep up with the rapidly changing world post-pandemic. Make the switch to cloud today – it’s easier than you think.


Want to know how TAKU can help you sell anywhere and at anytime?

How To Reduce Post-Holiday Shopping Returns

How To Reduce Post-Holiday Shopping Returns

In 2018, $400 billion worth of inventory was returned; of this number, $95 billion worth of goods were returned after the holidays. This means that 25% of all returned items were returned within the span of one month. UPS estimates that over one million returns are made daily in December from purchases made earlier in the year.

As January rolls in, people will be more careful about money after the busiest spending months of the year. There will be a lot of returns that take place both online and in physical stores. You will need to prepare for this and find new ways to tackle loss prevention too.

receipt returns shopping

Rewrite And Reconsider Different Return Policies

You need to communicate your return and exchange policies to customers both in-store and on all receipts. Make sure you have your policies posted around the store and the checkout area so that staff also understand them. Some important things to remember when writing them are being clear about:

  • acceptable return windows
  • condition of items
  • type of items that can be returned (eg. some stores will not allow cosmetics and intimate items to be returned), return fees, etc.

Being clear about policies can reduce stress for both staff and angry shoppers post-holidays.

Examples: Zara employees tell shoppers their return / exchange policies during checkout. The policies are also printed and circled on their receipts. Zara also offers a short window of exchange for regular-priced items so that people do not keep returning seasonal items for new releases. Having these rules in place are especially important for stores that carry seasonal items. Canadian Tire does not offer returns or exchanges on Christmas trees past December 24.

Retail tip: When processing returns, you should cross out items on shoppers’ receipts and take down their information so that you can see if there is a history of similar behavior. This will help with loss prevention.

Encourage People To Exchange Items Instead

You should minimize refunds because they are a net loss. Besides damage to the products themselves, one of the main costs of returns is bank processing fees. Banks charge fees for purchases as well as refunds by card. In other words, you end up paying twice the fees when refunding money to customers.

While you might offer refunds in your policies, you can minimize your losses by offering shoppers an exchange instead. That way, instead of losing money, you still have a chance to keep the sale or in the best case scenario, make more money.

Retail tip: Offer Buy Online Return in Store (BORIS) so that people can still shop around before they return their products. Shoppers are more likely to buy more or exchange their items in-store. This also gives you a chance to introduce new items to them or impress them with your customer service.

retail holiday shopping

Automate The Process

Shoppers are more likely to return to businesses when they have a good return experience. Whether you sell in-store or omnichannel, retailers need clear return policies and systems in place to handle returns smoothly. You should also make it easy for people to return both online and in-store. This helps nudge customers back into your store in the future. Plus, since you already have their personal information, you are able to send retargeting ads and emails to them about upcoming sales and store events.

Retail tip: You need to get shoppers’ consent before sending them SMS messages or emails.

Resell Merchandise At A Discounted Price

Instead of throwing products away, stores can offer any imperfect items at a discounted price. This lets you keep selling things that would otherwise be wasted.

Example: Best Buy offers both customers the option of buying open-box and refurbished items at a discounted price. This is especially important for high-ticket items such as electronics. Amazon offers different prices for used or returned products based on their condition (used, used-good, etc.). These retailers are able to keep selling products even after the products have been returned.


Want to know more about successful inventory management?

inventory management essentials retail
Inventory Management Essentials For Retailers

Inventory Management Essentials For Retailers

For retailers, inventory planning matters. Inventory is your largest asset and has the greatest impact on your business cash flow. If you plan your inventory well, you can reduce your overhead costs and increase cashflow. This article will help you understand the essentials to inventory management for retailers.

Cashflow in Retail

Cashflow sitting in old or out-of-season inventory is money that could be better used elsewhere. Many successful retailers don’t carry a lot of excess stock to have the flexibility to introduce new products more quickly. This is particularly true in industries such as grocery where products can easily expire or fashion where products can be trendy. All products are worth less over time as they get “stale.” But in fast-moving sectors, products have shorter life cycles, meaning they lose their value faster. As such, carrying too much stock means an increased chance of getting stuck with products that require deep discounting to free up your cashflow. Consider this the next time your suppliers offer you better prices to buy a larger volume of product.

Remember though, keeping your inventory “lean” doesn’t only mean keeping stock levels low. If stock levels don’t match your sales demand and are kept too low, you will constantly have out-of-stock products. You want to avoid stock-outs as they are costly to retailers. They lead to lost sales, wasted marketing efforts, and unhappier customers.

There are many different inventory management methods but ultimately, it comes down to one thing, “do you have stock when you need to sell it“.

In the end, selling at any price is not the objective. To be profitable, retailers need loyal, repeat customers that don’t require expensive marketing campaigns to get them to buy. When you think of it this way, inventory is an important part of your overall customer service. Customer service is the new marketing as every touch point impacts how your customers view your business. Less stock-outs means higher sales in-store and faster fulfillment for online orders, all of which means better customer satisfaction.

What Can I Do As A Retailer To Better Manage My Inventory?

If you’re a small-to-midsize retailer and all of this sounds scary, don’t worry. Not all retailers have the resources of the big brands, and regardless of your size, there are things you can do to better plan your inventory.

Real-Time Inventory Management Essentials

1) Make Sure You Always Have Access To Real-Time Stock Levels

You can’t manage what you don’t know. With an increasing number of sales channels (e.g. e-commerce, pop-ups, etc.), a retail POS that can handle “unified commerce” with real-time stock levels is essential to inventory management in today’s market. Unified commerce is just another way of saying a total retail management platform that you can log into from anywhere that offers a single view of inventory, sales, and customer data across an entire business in real time. As expected, the need for real-time inventory data grows as the business and transaction complexity increases.

Minimum Stock Levels

2) Use Minimum Stock Levels

Use minimum stock levels, also known as safety stock levels. In many retail point-of-sale systems, you can assign a minimum stock level to every product in your store which you can easily track in comparison to your actual stock level. You should also be able to easily make mass updates in your POS when you review your minimum stock levels every 3-6 months.

3) Track Inventory Stock Levels By Supplier

Track inventory stock levels by supplier so that you can consolidate purchases to minimize stock-outs, lead time, and shipping costs. This will also allow you to more easily meet supplier minimum order amounts.

4) Track Inventory Turnover

This is essential to inventory management in retail. Basically this refers to how many times a product is sold and replaced over a certain period of time. This can be tracked at a very high level (e.g. including the entire store inventory) or at the product / category level. There are different ways to calculate turnover but whatever approach you use, consider using Cost of Goods Sold instead of Sales as you will get a more accurate measure as your result will not include markup. For example:

TAKU Retail Inventory Turnover
  • From Jan-Mar, this company had inventory turnover of 13.33. This is calculated by taking the Sales$ for this period and dividing it by Average Stock Value$. Now you can convert this to “inventory days” by taking 365 / 13.33. So from Jan-Mar, inventory turns 13.33 times a year and is on hand for approximately 27.38 days. If you run the same calculations for Apr-Jun, inventory turns 18.33 times a year and is on hand for approximately 19.91 days.
  • From these two examples, the higher your turnover rate, the more efficient you are, since it means that your inventory is being sold faster and you have more cash flow in your business. A lot of people forget that the cost of inventory is not just the original purchase cost of an item. It includes the ongoing cost TO SELL that inventory. The longer it takes to sell something, the greater your real inventory cost as your money is sitting in that dead stock instead of products that are in high demand.

5) Determine Your Ideal Reorder Days

It is always a good idea to estimate the lead time required to reorder products in time for suppliers to produce OR deliver them before you are out-of-stock. For example, if you know it takes two weeks to receive orders from a particular vendor, make sure to factor that lead time into your reorder timing. In the beginning, you don’t want to cut it too close as unexpected delays can happen (e.g. snowstorms in the winter). This is especially true if you are ordering for a busy time of year such as Christmas. For some retailers, losing a week during the holidays might mean the difference between Christmas and Boxing Day pricing.

Inventory Management Essentials for All

Inventory Management – Essential For All

A lot of independent retailers or businesses often think that they are not large enough to use inventory management tools and try to use spreadsheets to keep track of their goods. While this can work in the beginning, as your inventory items grow in both size and attributes, you will either overstock (to prevent stock-outs) or have constant back orders. You will also lose out on freight savings and volume discounts you might have received if you had consolidated your vendor orders more efficiently.

Start improving your operations by following the key essentials to inventory management we’ve listed above. Then when you’re ready, start to slowly automate these functions one-by-one. With the proper point-of-sale system, you will be able to spend less time managing your inventory and more time selling it.


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This article is an updated version of a blog post first published in the ACE POS Solutions blog.