Physical Stores, Virtual Inventory

My latest blogs have centered around the continued shift in the retail landscape that we have all been experiencing. And these changes haven’t gone unnoticed by those outside of the retail sphere, as displayed in an article I read the other day. In The Store (It would seem) Is Not Dead (at Least for Now), penned by Carl Swanson, Kenneth Himmel was interviewed; Himmel is the president and CEO of the retail development company Related Urban. In the interview, Himmel is said that what’s happened is the trends are so accelerated that nobody can keep up.” Now, while Himmel is speaking to the struggle of developing retail stores, the concept applies to other retail phenomena such as keeping stores up to date, technology implementation, and pretty much everything retail.

Retailers are trying to accommodate consumers while consumers are looking for the most convenient solution to get what they want but, at the same time, they don’t really know how to find that solution. And technology is changing so fast that neither retailers nor consumers can keep up. 

This got me thinking: making major updates to existing stores is challenging, opening new stores is expensive, and choosing what technology is best for your business is just downright overwhelming. But what if you didn’t have to choose between retail trends? Optimizing both online and in-person inventory can help you quell all of your shoppers biggest asks.

So, what can a retailer do to remain successful until this disruption stabilizes using the power of inventory?


Endless aisle

This technology — a natural feature of the digital store — can also be used to allow physical store shoppers to browse and select long-tail” add-ons and accessories on a kiosk, screen, or tablet in the showroom. Given the proper data integration, retailers can push selected products over to their POS solution, where they can be checked out on a single invoice at the same time as a smartphone purchase.


For some add-on items that are difficult to inventory at the store level, the best service option may be a drop ship integration with vendors who can reliably deliver items to the customers’ homes or offices. Best practice would be to provide customers with accurate availability and delivery information, drawn from the retailer’s online inventory application.



More specific to wireless retailers, the long repurchase cycle presents CRM challenges since smartphone customers may have little incentive to interact with the retail store between phone upgrades. For this reason, it is desirable for stores to find opportunities to communicate with customers as a follow-up to purchases and in preparation for new purchases. Messaging should be as targeted and relevant as possible. The objective is to foster more intimate customer relationships, encouraging more repeat visits (digital and physical), and better customer retention.

All this technology exists today and can be implemented with little to no disruption to existing processes and will provide retailers with a mechanism to satisfy customer shopping preferences.

Curious how you can make the most of an endless aisle solution? Check out these implementations to see all the ways having physical and virtual inventory can make you more money!

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