By Amber Trendell-Oracle on Jan 15, 2016
Inventory—or lack thereof—can make or break a sale, influencing the immediate purchase and making a lasting impression on the shopper.
And although retail executives have long voiced the need for a single view of inventory, the demand is now deriving from the shoppers themselves. In Oracle’s 2015 “Retail Without Limits” survey, 70% of consumers said they wanted visibility into retailers’ inventory in order to make their purchases anytime, anywhere.
With stakes this high—and with a growing number of paths to purchase—it’s becoming increasingly necessary for brands in 2016 to offer consumers an accurate, right-now view of items in stock at any location or online.
More retailers are achieving one fluid view of inventory that facilitates the services customers prefer – sometimes before they know it. Nordstrom long ago set the standard for excellence in service by making customers’ convenience its top priority. The retailer, which uses Oracle solutions as the foundation for its world-renowned inventory and merchandising operations, was among the first to allow customers to return items purchased at any of its brands to any convenient store, including at a sister brand location: Nordstrom Rack and Haute Look.
“Our strategy is straightforward: to realize the strengths and advantages of One Nordstrom,” David Boeschenstein, VP of merchandise and supply chain technology for Nordstrom, said in a presentation at Oracle OpenWorld in October. “As we entered the Canadian market, we wanted to fuel growth. We wanted to avoid customizations and maintain the upgrade path, so we didn’t face the same situation going forward.”
Nordstrom launched a new, upgraded version of Oracle solutions to form the foundation for its retail operations in Canada. The features and functionality provided within the latest Oracle applications mean the retailer can avoid customization, a change that paid off quickly when Nordstrom rolled out upgrades to its Canadian store systems just nine months after the first location opened in 2014.
Another retailer using a single view of inventory to further its success is specialty brand Lids Sports Group, which operates 1,300 stores in North America and an online business. What makes the retailer unique is that its brick-and-mortar assortments are hyper-localized and feature products from regional favorites, as well as national teams. The brand recently needed to upgrade its inventory systems so that all of the regionally available sports memorabilia could be seen by a consumer shopping in any store nationwide or online.
In April 2015, Lids rolled out Oracle Retail Order Broker, enabling the retailer to nearly double the number of product SKUs available for sale online by exposing inventory in all Lids stores as well as throughout its supply chain.
The new system gives associates and customers real-time, chain-wide inventory information whether products are sitting in a warehouse, an e-commerce distribution center, or on a store shelf hundreds of miles away. Employees can easily find available items and then ship them to customers’ homes or businesses, or to any store in the chain. The deployment also replaced end of the day inventory tracking with real-time views.
“Oracle Retail solutions have made a dramatic difference in how we do business, both with regard to our internal systems and in relating to customers,” said Larry Havlik, VP , IT and systems, Lids Sports Group. “This is a significant step toward driving growth, by expanding the items we offer and giving customers the full benefit of our locations, in-store service, and e-commerce site.”
Previously this year Kevin Thompson, Director of Applications Development at Lids Sports Group shared the company's experience working with Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service and Order Broker Cloud Service in a webcast. View the archive to hear their story.