As a brand owner, do you often find the merchandise your customers are searching for is either out of stock or misplaced? Systematic inventory management ensures a smooth customer experience and a coordinated flow of stock across the supply chain to avoid errors like inaccurate order picking, delayed order fulfillment, missed shipments, etc.
COVID-19 highlighted loopholes in the legacy solutions and the lack of agility and flexibility in supply chains. Fulfilling the increasing demand for omnichannel commerce requires new-age inventory management solutions that help in:
Optimizing storage space
Preventing the accumulation of deadstock
Fulfilling orders accurately and on time
Avoiding spoilage of perishable consumable items
Increasing sales by enhancing customer experience.
4 Efficient Inventory Management Techniques
JIT (Just-in-time) Inventory Management
The process of procuring raw materials from suppliers, as soon as an order is placed and managing on-time production schedules is called the JIT method. It prevents overstocking or deadstock and is an excellent way of eliminating high inventory costs.
Increff Iris, is enabling one of the leading eyewear brands to fulfill both JIT and OTC (over-the-counter) merchandise simultaneously in an automated fashion.
ABC Analysis Technique
ABC Analysis is a way of categorizing goods based on their value and the company’s profit.
For example, marketplaces like Amazon categorizes item listings on their portal based on this technique:
Category A: Most valuable items that offer the highest profit and exceed target margins are listed first.
Category B: The wide range of goods that fall in between categories A and C.
Category C: Items that make profits to meet targets but don’t make much difference individually.
This helps marketplaces maximize profits by understanding which items to prioritize on their portal.
Increff Assure, our efficient WMS and order fulfillment solution has reports that can help brands analyze sales across all B2B and B2C channels and improve delivery efficiency. Inventory serialization helps to track individual pieces accurately. It improves picking accuracy and facilitates faster order fulfillment which helps brands gain a higher customer satisfaction score and greater visibility on marketplaces.
FEFO for limited shelf-life products
FEFO is a stock rotation technique to prevent stock loss due to expiration or obsolescence. Assigning expiry dates to batches, allow brands to track each batch accurately so retailers know when to push which stock from the warehouse to the store. It is used in industries like e.g. beauty, pharma, and consumable goods dealing with limited shelf-life products for inventory optimization and minimizing waste.
The new Expiry feature in Assure allows brands to set quality benchmarks at the batch level by triggering notifications when a batch is going to expire. It enables retailers to channelize sales to various points of sales accordingly, and ensure a majority of the stock is sold within the desired timeframe.
The EOQ (Economic Order Quantity) technique considers factors like customer demand, ordering cost, and holding cost to calculate the proper levels of inventory. Customer demand is based on factors like trends, seasons, and internal factors like marketing strategies, offers, etc. Ordering costs are usually stable and decrease if you order the inventory in bulk. Holding/carrying costs generally depend on the amount of inventory in hand. This allows brands to stock optimal quantities at minimal costs while ensuring a smooth flow of business.
Increff Iris’s smart assortment planning capability involves tracking and measuring individual style performance, at the granular level, to define the ideal store-wise assortment plan that caters to the local customer demands. It helps prevent loss in sales opportunities and increases inventory turnover by identifying NOOS styles and highlighting non-moving dead styles to improve overall inventory health
Now is the time for omnichannel retailers to gear up and adapt to efficient inventory management techniques to increase agility in their supply chain and improve inventory accuracy. It presents a huge opportunity for them to offer their best merchandise across all sales channels, at a competitive price and clear their stuck inventory making room for new launches.
Retail started from local stores and expanded nationwide, cross borders, with e-commerce. E-commerce provided a uniform platform business for brands to compete on. The traditional legacy brands, having huge landmark stores and a dedicated customer base, had to wrestle with hip startups that were born in the digital era. As fast-paced technology started transforming the future of retail, it completely changed the way we shop.
What was memorable about brand stores was the unique environment they created by capturing its essence within the four walls and adding a peculiarity in interactions. This uniqueness and brand memorability get lost in multi-brand marketplaces. Marketplaces are standard platforms having their own purpose, that masks a brand’s individuality. E.g. you become a Macy’s customer or an Amazon shopper but the brand you shop for becomes secondary. Hence, D2C seems an attractive channel to directly communicate with customers and own the relationship.
Brands selling directly to customers own their most important asset; their customer’s lifetime value.
D2C is an emerging strategy to disrupt the market. It allows brands to grow at their own pace by eliminating the middleman and earning higher margins. It helps brands:
Directly connect with customers: Having direct access to customer data gives brands the ability to customize every touchpoint. Connect with shoppers whenever they want, through emailers, push notifications, etc.
Innovate: Data enables brands to understand customers better and improvise basis demand. Manufacturers can optimize existing products or create new offerings by capturing the trend early.
Build stronger brand loyalty: Using upselling and cross-selling options, retailers can create more opportunities for sale and build brand loyalty.
Increase flexibility and agility: Having full control over product supply and demand allows brands to become more agile. Gain the ability to read and react to change fast.
Going D2C is not easy. It’s important to have a D2C specific strategy, which addresses:
Initial set-up –
Building your website – Using the right e-commerce solution, that is affordable, scalable, secure and low maintenance is important. Specialized platforms like Magento and Shopify, serve as all-in-one website builders that are easy to work with. They provide multiple payment options and allow omnichannel delivery. Our web-based WMS solution, Increff Assure, has preintegration with both these platforms and we can be your technology partner. Assure is a multi-channel order fulfillment platform built specifically for fashion and lifestyle brands to improve topline and reduce operational costs. It manages inventory by tracking every piece using Unique Piece Barcode, ensuring 100% order accuracy and improving operational efficiency. Through fast and easy channel integrations Assure can manage inventory across multiple sales channels, online and offline, and display 100% inventory across all channels simultaneously ensuring higher sales and better visibility.
Deciding CapEx vs OpEx model of operations – Understanding whether you can support direct orders to your warehouse or do you need a warehousing partner is a next step. Increff Assure can help you manage inventory in your warehouse. Our Warehousing as a Service (WaaS) helps retailers switch from the CapEx to Opex model of operation as we manage anywhere, anytime warehousing through our trusted 3PL partners. Having the right tech foundation at each warehouse helps brands scale efficiently as their business grows with the increasing demand.
Supply chain challenges –
Inventory management tech-solution like Increff Assure helps optimize inventory across all sales channels to prevent understocking or overstocking at any point in time. Our Regional Utilization model helps distribute inventory intelligently across a network of managed warehouses, based on true regional demand. It helps minimize air shipments, promote surface shipments and reduce logistics costs significantly to facilitate faster deliveries. Our pre-integrations on Shopify with reliable3PL partners, Shiprocket and Clickpost,ensures complete order traceability and timely delivery. Increff Assure has inbuilt returns management solutions that very few WMS solutions provide. It help in rapid returns processing and makes good inventory immediately available for resale to prevent loss in sales opportunities.
Usage of data and insights –
Increff Assure’s 50+ insightful, actionable reports help brands make calculated decisions on inventory and resource management. They help in inventory reconciliation, identifying channels of higher sales for better order management, tracking manpower productivity, and improving efficiency by highlighting, and correcting, loopholes in operations.
Channel diversification is an opportunity to build a new relationship with customers. It is about giving a reason to customers to buy directly while ensuring the sales on partner channels do not get impacted. Offering unique services, loyalty programs, or subscription services plays a major role. Omnichannel brands can also decide on differentiating inventory across different channels e.g. D2C channel can be used for launching new products, selling premium versions of existing products, or a limited product line. Gaining better control over consumer data empowers brands to cater to changing needs by providing personalized, authentic service, and making it memorable.
Increff is recognized as a Notable Vendor in Gartner’s report “Asia/Pacific Context: Magic Quadrant for Warehouse Management Systems” published in Aug 2020. Gartner recognizes us based on our completeness of vision and ability to execute. Gartner subscribers can access the report here.
As traditional manufacturers shifted to eCommerce, their warehouses that shipped bulk orders to retailers and wholesalers, gradually turned to distribution centers for picking and packing individual orders for end users. The shift from bulk order processing to single order shipping, demands new Warehouse Management tools. It cannot depend on traditional systems with new technology and expect efficient workflow.
New integrated systems, specifically designed for a seamless omnichannel shopping experience, need to be implemented for better handling of inventory, distribution, and fulfillment operations. One solution cannot fit all, hence INCREFF has built unique expertise in its software platform ASSURE, to address the needs of fashion brands & retailers.
“Unique piece barcode serialization for smart order prioritization, intelligent pick paths, and accurate return order reconciliation”
ASSURE is an end to end cloud-based platform that comes along with pre-built marketplace integrations, inventory management, order management, and warehouse management capabilities. It can be used for both B2B and B2C operations from a common inventory pool.
Its unique piece barcode serialization feature reduces human errors through an intuitive user interface that encourages order prioritization based on SLA and channel type. Serialized scan-based checks and product photograph display feature at multiple stages, ensure right first time operations. The software interface is simple and easy to master without expert supervision or monitoring. Consolidated intelligent pick paths and easy reference maps optimize workflow to reduce picker travel time.
Quick real-time inventory and order sync not only assures efficient order fulfillment but also provides faster turn around times to your customers. This solution is built to handle 100,000 items per day per warehouse and supports multi-location warehousing. It is currently serving top brands & retailers achieving 99.9% SLA through accurate order fulfillment and improved inventory management.
A specialized WMS not only makes inventory management faster, easier, and efficient but also adds consistency and quality control, enabling brands to respond effectively to dynamic customer demand. With same-day-delivery now becoming a norm, human errors must be avoided. Brands need to move goods through their warehouse at maximum speed, improve fulfillment at every stage, and in turn boost sales and profits by making customers happy. ASSURE has accelerated the digital journeys of retailers increasing their sales velocity by 2-3x through better regional utilization, distributed warehousing, and real-time inventory updates.
Asia/Pacific Context: ‘Magic Quadrant for Warehouse Management Systems’, Simon Tunstall, Dwight Klappich, 5 August 2020
Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.
“The advances of technology are based on making it fit in so that you don’t really even notice it, so it’s part of everyday life” – Bill Gates
COVID-19 is probably the first global pandemic that has accelerated digital adoption in ways, and at speeds, no one could have predicted. As retailers and consumers switch services to E-commerce, timely order fulfillment has become a challenge. With increased viewability and availability of options online, the small screen offers more space for catalogs compared to a physical store. This is the power of SMALL over LARGE.
A smooth 24/7 shopping experience demands round-the-clock warehousing. A continuous influx of orders requires efficient processing, greater fulfillment space, and skillful operations. With same-day or next-day deliveries & free shipping demands, warehousing requires advanced technologies to accelerate automation, reduce cost, maximize exposure, and accelerate sales.
Real-time data feed for better customer experience, quick fulfillment, and customer retention. Increff’s Cloud Warehousing is a smart inventory placement service through which we help clients distribute stock to multiple 3PL warehouses, across the country, for better delivery to the end consumer. We lower overall client cost by providing the flexibility to switch from CAPEX to OPEX model of operations and assuring perfect, skillful management of warehousing with no additional operational bandwidth at their end. Our cloud warehousing service can be made operational within 2 days with complete adaptability on the quantity that needs to be stored at each location based on consumer demands.
Increff ASSURE, our web-based fulfillment platform, which is at the heart of our Cloud warehousing Service, provides a single view of the inventory across all sales channels simultaneously. It helps fulfill both B2B and B2C orders from a common pool of inventory, thus improving the overall Rate of Sale, that too from the nearest location. We have helped clients lower manpower costs by 20-25% and achieve 99.9% SLA in order fulfillment through our combination of Technology and Warehousing as a Service.
One of the largest footwear giants, increased the rate of sales by 300% using ASSURE and Cloud Warehousing.
What’s next! Unpredictable purchasing season is another concern where many warehouses find it difficult to keep up with seasonal changes and demands from consumers, often leading to either understocking or overstocking. As seasonal goods or particular fashion trends lose relevance in one region, cross-border analysis can help brands quickly shift that merchandise to regions where goods are more likely to sell. This is the future of retail and Increff is on the path of a revolutionary change, helping brands plan a more sustainable and better-designed fashion ecosystem.
Efficient warehousing is a crucial activity in the supply chain. It has become a source of competitive advantage for brands to outperform their competition in costs, lead time, and customer service. With so many WMS solutions available in the market, Gartner’s report on Critical Capabilities for Warehouse Management Systems is a helpful guide for businesses to determine their best-suited tech-solution.
In the age of A-commerce (Automated Commerce), where all warehousing processes leverage automation and new technologies from start to finish, businesses need to switch to web-based WMS solutions that lower ownership costs are easy to use and quick to deploy. Supply chain digital transformation builds greater agility and resilience in business structure and strengthens growth strategy for now and the future.
Increff ASSURE, recognised in this report, has nine notable capabilities (five core capabilities and four are additional capabilities), that make it an important new age WMS solution.
ASSURE’s nine notable capabilities are:
Easy to Use, Learn, and Maintain
Near-Zero Training and a valuable user experience
While building efficiencies independently within each core capability is extremely essential, ASSURE ties all activities together building a secure, flawless flow through the entire process.
This stage involves inward processing where a Unique Piece Barcode (UPB) is assigned to each product. The barcode captures all key details like MRP, style, color, size, SKU image, etc. of the product along with a complete audit trail of operations with timestamps. It allows scan based GRN, showing the product image and description for quality check (QC).
ASSURE’s stringent in-built QC matrix includes a comprehensive list of failure reasons covering all business requirements. If a product is found defective or unsellable, the reason is selected from the drop-down list and its UPB is marked as QC failed. Digitally bifurcated unsellable inventory, with in-depth QC failure reasons, helps in taking quick necessary actions. This product-defect mapping is linked to the seller and can help in streamlining future buying decisions.
ASSURE allows cycle counting to be done without blocking any inventory or affecting the exposure of the inventory, hence regular operations can be run simultaneously. It identifies discrepancies in the physical scan and system count as we go, making sure that it is addressed immediately without having to wait for a periodic cycle count activity. In case a certain item is marked as ‘Not Found’ during regular picking operations, the updated inventory is synced on all channels including the marketplaces within 30 seconds. These real-time inventory adjustments and live updates can be done without hindering day to day operations.
Location tracking and assigning perfect pick paths for efficient picking is another notable feature of ASSURE that is achieved through UPB scanning. Separate pick paths can be assigned for smaller and larger products. Picklists are generated using the FIFO inventory method, considering the oldest SKU first to reduce the aging inventory. It also has the ability to prioritize or release picklists according to SLA or channel priority, e.g. Express & Prime orders which have to be fulfilled within 2 hours of order receipt, or multiple marketplaces that have separate cut off and pick up timings, are addressed accordingly. A single view of inventory across all channels and 99.9% bin level accuracy exceeds RFID tagging in bringing accuracy and building proficiency. Proper inventory management in the warehouse allows capturing the true cost of the inventory with accurate aging.
Is a fully automated scan-based process, free of pen and paper, allowing first-time right pick. Using the UPB tracking method, ASSURE creates an optimized linear forward-going pick path that facilitates systematic sequential picking. It ensures that a picker exits an aisle only when all the items from the picklist have been picked. Through real-time checks, the system has the ability to throw an error and an audio alert to warn the picker if a wrong product is scanned. The picker cannot move forward until the right product is picked up or an item is marked as ‘Not Found’. In case a piece is not found in the assigned bin, a recommendation system is set to direct the picker to the next best location. An order is closed only when all the pieces have been scanned and picked.
ASSURE has a single screen for each marketplace to view the packing status in real-time. Automated prompts for packing are generated if a product packing requires any customizations, e.g. use of corrugated material for plastic ban states, or gift label print if an order is for gifting. The system provides options to print the shipping labels in different custom formats. If an order is canceled before/during packing then it is sent back to the inventory and made live for sale again, immediately.
6. Responsive UI
UI is designed for the end-operator who is used to the touchscreen on mobile devices. It is fully automated and scan-based, to avoid the use of a mouse or keyboard and eliminate chances of lapses due to human decision-making, and can run on any device; tablet, laptop, smartphone, HHTs. Normally, the operation of GRN/ return processing has a maximum number of steps, but with ASSURE it can be covered in just 4 scans. On scanning, the cursor automatically moves to the next field freezing the previous one and ensures that the operator does not skip a step. If the operator scans any barcode other than the one expected, then a pop-up error stops him from moving further.
7. Easy to Use, Learn, and Maintain
Considering the fluidity of the workforce where attrition is typically 15-20% in a warehouse, Increff ASSURE’s user-friendly interface design guarantees quick learning and easy implementation without supervision. In scenarios like the present where a large number of blue-collar workers moved out of big cities to villages, there is an acute shortage of skilled labour in big warehouses. These warehouses have to operate with a lot of temporary unskilled, less-educated workers to deliver efficient and proficient output. In such situations having easy-to-learn systems saves time that goes into training and in turn increases the productivity of the labour force.
8. Near-Zero Training and a valuable user experience
Reduced training time relates to a lot of dollars saved. Typical manpower required to operate the ASSURE interface needs the bare minimum educational qualification to read simple text. The training time is less than 5 mins so you can go-live faster and reduce manpower cost by 20-25%.
If there are multiple options available on the screen it can confuse the operator and reduce productivity. A google-like extremely simple UI, with limited options, allows a majority of the decision-making to be done by the system itself. Also, each screen has a video tutorial of 3- 5 mins embedded on the UI to train the new operator. With strict rules set by all marketplaces and different kinds of processes for each operation, it is best if the decision-making is left up to the WMS system. This helps in the easy scale-up of operations and maximum productivity from day one.
9. Multi-site Deployment
Increff ASSURE is capable of handling multi-warehousing. The creation of an environment for a seller takes a maximum of 48 hrs. Our Cloud warehousing service is based on CAPEX free model that gives the flexibility of scaling up and scaling down as per business needs. It enables sellers to easily build up inventory in different regions and optimize low-cost order fulfillment from a local warehouse, reducing logistics costs significantly. Multi-location cloud warehousing improves supply chain resilience and reduces the risk of failures.
For one of the top ethnic wear brands in India, within 15 days of launch, ASSURE GRNed approx 5 lakh pieces across 2 warehouses during peak sales. It dispatched ~170K pieces within 3 days, achieving 99.9%+ SLA and only 48 orders (0.03%) were canceled due to the item not found or excess orders. Powered by ASSURE, the brand has now fAssure and Amazon Prime quality badge for 100% fulfillment accuracy.
Every business needs to evolve and strengthen overtime to cope with the challenges of the changing market. This is the time for digital transformation and quick results. The real challenge is to choose the right system that can help you scale business operations immediately. The New-age WMS needs to be flexible and adaptable to the changing business landscape. Now is not the time to wait, but to act. Get ASSUREd!
Change is here and INCREFF is leading it. Retail has been an ever-evolving industry that has upgraded and strengthened with each disruptive change. Such disruptions pose multiple challenges with opportunities for innovation. The recent pandemic has not only accelerated digitalization but also exposed system deficiencies, highlighting the need for preparedness and resilience.
According to a recent Yourstory report, Flipkart owned fashion retailer Myntra witnessed an 86% rise in customers during its popular EORS this year. It processed more than 8,000 orders per minute and recorded a 30% growth in yearly traffic. This is a phenomenal performance by a fashion retailer considering the current economic slowdown. This shift of shopping from offline to online has defined a new role for retail stores.
Why Increff is Cool
An interesting personalized interaction at a store adds far more value compared to an online sale. Retailers must ensure physical touchpoints are leveraging technologies that create relevant assortments and product availabilities to build a memorable experience. Thus, Key to retail differentiation is intelligent merchandising and Increff IRISX helps achieve that.
Increff’s revolutionary intelligent merchandising solution combines the power of self-learning patent-pending algorithms with attribute level data analysis to predict pre-season and in-season smart assortment plan, an ideal buy plan, and a distribution plan for each store.
As we realize our interconnectivity with the ecosystem, we understand that assortment planning can no longer be limited to the pre-season stage but must also include in-season analysis and execution. It requires significant refinement of assortments using big data, both historical and near real-time, with advanced analytics and algorithmic approaches, to create store-specific assortments that mirror the buying pattern of distinct customer segments.
As one of the key players in the retail tech Industry, IRISX helps fashion brands & retailers increase sales by providing an intelligent and highly accurate merchandising planning platform helping merchandisers take pre-season and in-season decisions like what, when and how much to buy and where to showcase inventory via 100+ customizable patent-pending algorithms designed specifically for fashion and lifestyle business. It facilitates retailers to create store-specific assortments that meet customer needs while intelligently limiting excess production.
Retailers need to urgently automate legacy processes that consume time, bring inaccuracies, or fail to deliver corrective actions, to enhance speed and augment human activity.
Increff management has a wonderful combination of rich merchandising experience and cutting edge technology, one of the biggest challenges for fashion retailers has been continuously improving first quality sell-through, which Increff has really been helpful by improving the relevant merchandise available on the floor . The team is very responsive and open to learning and adapting.