I find it quite incredible that in today’s world so many retailers still do not have real-time stock.
Take my experience. I bought a cardigan online and when it arrived I discovered it was too large. I rang my local store to find that they did not stock it. To my surprise they could neither tell me which branch had my size in stock, nor arrange to have it reserved it for me.
I then rang the customer service centre. They said they would telephone each of their stores and find one who could reserve it. They soon phoned me back to notify me that their Covent Garden store were taking it off the rack, and holding it in my name - but only for 24 hours.
The next day I was delayed. Realising that I would miss the 24 hour target, I rang the Covent Garden store. They had never heard of me and there was no recollection of that particular cardigan being reserved. So once again I asked if they had this product in store. She was unable to give me an answer without first checking the stock room or the shelf.
The reason that all of this happened was that the retailer did not operate a real-time stock system and therefore lacked the ability to reserve stock in store easily.
I think in today’s technological environment there is no excuse for this. I am amazed by how many fashion retailers still do not have real-time stock.
If you have real-time stock you can offer click and collect in 30 mins, which is a serious game changer.
Click and collect in 30 minutes means you never have to lose a sale. It means that, if you want to, you can offer same-day despatch. It sends a strong message to customers that you are at the top of your game. If they want something, they can be secure in the knowledge that you can find it and reserve it.
When The Entertainer put our real-time stock system into practise, and started offering click and collect in 30 minutes, the consumer response was overwhelming. Whenever a popular product came in, it sold out within 2 hours.
No retailer ever gets stock distribution 100% right. In fashion retailing, where size is critical to making a sale, having real-time stock allows you to answer the question – “which store has my size in stock now” – which results in you never having to lose a sale. If you have not got your stock distribution right, it no longer matters as much as you can always service the customer.