Retail Operations

3 Alternatives to Traditional Retail Inventory Management Practices

By Channing Kochylema Dec 02, 2016

Inventory management is a balancing act. If there's a shortage of merchandise, retailers may lose out on potential sales. If there's too much, retailers may have to deal with warehouse costs, spoiled products, out-of-season goods, or other concerns.

Traditional inventory control practices currently aren't cutting it. According to a 2016 study by The Hackett Group, companies with median performances held over two times more inventory than their top-performing counterparts. That suggests leading organizations are taking a strategic approach to manage their stock. To keep your inventory moving, consider one of these alternative techniques.

1. Drop shipping

Instead of using traditional techniques like just-in-time management, which relies on accurate forecasting, retailers can turn to a more convenient form of inventory control. By using drop shipping, they no longer have to store and ship items—cutting costs and saving time. Once an order is submitted, the vendor or wholesaler is notified and they can handle this task instead. That means retailers can concentrate on more important matters, like providing their customers with a satisfying shopping experience.


  • Minimize the amount of floor space required and save on rental costs.
  • Allow employees to focus on being brand ambassadors to help improve sales.
  • Ensure customers can easily receive their orders at home, work, or in-store.

2. Endless aisle

Customers have grown used to finding and ordering anything online, whether it's a rare baseball card from eBay or a specific pair of noise-cancelling wireless headphones in rose gold from Amazon. They expect the same flexibility when they walk into a brick-and-mortar store. That's why sales associates need to have a digital tablet ready when they greet a customer, so they can offer the store's entire catalog upfront. Endless Aisle is an effective way for retailers to bring the digital and physical components of shopping to the in-store experience.


  • Enable customers to quickly find what product they're looking for.
  • Easily update product pages through a centralized platform.
  • Gain insight into product views and session durations, which can help determine what to stock more of in the future.

3. Intelligent inventory

Many companies aren't leveraging analytics to manage their inventories. According to a 2016 report by Wasp Barcode Technologies, 48% of small businesses manually track inventory or don't even track it at all. Upgrading to an automated digital process can easily bring inventory control up-to-date. With intelligent inventory, retailers can harness big data to manage their stock and order more before they run out.


  • View inventory history reports.
  • Gain real-time visibility into stock quantities and details.
  • Auto-generate purchase orders for convenient order fulfillment.

Effective solutions for inventory management problems

These three alternatives for inventory control can solve many problems encountered by brick-and-mortar retailers. Worried about not being able to sell a product that's only available online? Endless aisle has got you covered. Concerned over your retail square footage? Consider drop shipping. What about those long nights counting stock for the holidays? That becomes so much easier with intelligent inventory. With these modern inventory management solutions, companies are in a better position to succeed.

To learn more about streamlining your inventory & fulfillment practices download the below whitepaper titled, 4 Components Of An Optimized Fuflillment Strategy. 

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Feature Photo: Dmitry Kalinovsky /

Retail Operations