Omnichannel Inventory Visibility Still Lagging Behind for Retailers

By Marcus LaRobardiere - January 25, 2018

Over the weekend my friend sent me a funny video of her dog, Stella, frantically digging out a rubber bone that was buried in the snow. Stella was overwhelmed with excitement having found her favorite toy which had been lost for what must felt like an eternity (three days!). Much like Stella looking for her missing bone, shoppers and store associates face a similar nightmare when it comes to searching for, and finding, a particular product and related inventory.

In our Mobile Retail Report, we found that while retail brands have made improvements around Search & Discover on mobile, scoring a “C+” grade compared to a “C” in 2016, there is still work to be done. Product pairings and displaying related products are quickly becoming standard, but few brands are providing transparency into multichannel or omnichannel inventory. What’s more, the majority of retailers don’t provide simple web access to store associates. Here’s a quick snapshot at some of our additional findings:

  • 25% of retailers empower store associates with real-time inventory visibility on a smartphone or tablet on the shop floor
  • 30% of brands researched in the report provide in-store inventory visibility via their mobile site or native app
  • 31% of retailers tailor the online shopping experience by displaying previously searched products on a customers’ next visit
  • 46% of store associates have access to their brands’ product catalogue on a mobile device, in-store

There is hope, though. In the Mobile Retail Report, we highlighted five brands outperforming their peers in the Search & Discover category: Abercrombie & Fitch, The North Face, Tory Burch, LOFT, and Sephora. Amid its impressive turnaround, Abercrombie has also solved the omnichannel inventory dilemma, providing total transparency to online and in-store shoppers. Further, Abercrombie  arms store associates with mobile devices to check on in-store inventory so customers don’t have to search through clothing racks and neatly folded piles to find a specific item or a size.

Whether you’re a consumer or store associate, it’s much easier to find what you’re looking for if the right technology and tools are in place to do so. This is key for retail brands to help deliver a seamless customer experience, online and in-store. As for my friend’s dog, it might be easier to just keep her toy’s inside until winter is over.

For more data on how brands scored a ‘C+’ for Search & Discover, download the Mobile Retail Report.