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Retailers use inventory data to figure out what factors drive traffic

Richard Jones Archive

In the retail sector, the rapid rise of modern technology has significantly accelerated business. Now that people can shop for products anywhere in the world using their web browsers and mobile phones, they're acting quickly to deplete merchant's inventories. If a product becomes popular today for whatever reason, it might be sold out by tomorrow. People all over the world have all the tools they need to snatch it up.

This presents a challenge for retailers, but it's not an insurmountable one. Companies simply need better tools for keeping track of their inventories and making sure the supply chain is effective at meeting customers' evolving demands. This is largely a matter of collecting and maintaining the right data.

Watching the warehouse carefully
Companies need to use agile new technologies to keep an eye on their warehouses and watch their product inventories. This way, they can anticipate shortages or surpluses and adjust their marketing and sales strategies accordingly.

According to Street Fight magazine, this can have a profound effect. Mike Wilson, chief executive officer of Goodzer, notes that using this information can influence shoppers in both the online and brick-and-mortar realms.

"If you take deep, hyperlocal data and create an online presence, you can provide a deeper story," Wilson said.

The key is to keep operations running smoothly so that all customers, both the in-person and virtual ones, have access to the goods they demand. Keeping data on inventory and sales can help keep shopping on both fronts chugging along, according to Sherry Thomas-Zon, shopping vice president at Krillion/Local Corp.

"As long as I see the refrigerator, you can bring it to me any way you want," Thomas-Zon told Street Fight.

Striving always for accuracy
Obviously, it's important that companies settle for nothing but the best when it comes to the accuracy of their inventory data. Even the slightest mistake could lead to retailers marketing the wrong products. This could throw off sales operations over the long haul.

"We amass a huge amount of data, and there are subsets interesting to certain groups," Thomas-Zon said. "We have to be flexible enough to serve those folks, and those folks will pay for access to that information."

Retail data can be mined in a lot of ways - looking through people's web traffic, their purchasing decisions, their habits vis a vis customer service. But all of those are consumer-facing pursuits. The internal questions are just as important, and inventory data is one way that retailers can improve their operations overall.