How Mobile Apps and Real-Time Data Can Solve Retailers’ Out-of-Stock Issues

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How Mobile Apps and Real-Time Data Can Solve Retailers’ Out-of-Stock Issues

Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies have a dirty little secret even they don’t know about: They typically lose 20 percent of potential sales due to out-of-stock issues, missed promotions, wrong placements and similar issues, according to shelvspace. In a world in which online retailers are a tsnuami washing away many physical retail stores, that’s an existential threat to CPG sales.

Retailers can use real-time data and mobile apps to track goods, assets, demand and inventory to solve out-of-stock issues.There’s a solution to the issue, though: Use real-time data and mobile apps to track goods, assets, demand and inventory. That’s particularly useful for getting a handle on out-of-stock problems.

How bad is the out-of-stock problem for CPG? In a blog post, shelvspace reports, “Out-of-stocks can cost companies as much as 4.1% of their total lost revenue each year, translating to much more than $125 billion each year in the U.S. alone.”

The blog post sets up the issue this way: “Can you support a customer who needs to double their order and wants it delivered this afternoon? Do you know if you have the trucks, goods, and available staff? What if they need goods because of an out-of-stock? To ask it another way: what goods, people, and asset inventory do you have available and how fast can you mobilize it?”

Like most companies, you probably don’t have a handle on that information. But it’s easier to solve than you might think. The first step, says shelvspace, is to get data from partners and vendors, and to consider buying syndicated data from IRI, Nielsen, SPINS, or Spencer.

Next, combine all the data into an analytics program or business intelligence tool to identify out-of-stocks and other issues. 

But even that isn’t enough. You also need field teams that can gather up-to-date, shelf-level inventory information as well. And that doesn’t mean using email or old-school Excel spreadsheets. It means a team equipped with mobile apps that let them gather and input information directly from the field — including photos taken by mobile devices. In that way, you’ll get invaluable, in-depth, real-time information.

Combining that data with what you get from partners, vendors and third parties will give you the most up-to-date insights possible. You’ll be able to dramatically cut lost revenue from out-of-stocks as well as other issues.

If you’re looking for a tool that will let you write a mobile app to help field teams gather the data and integrate it with other sources, Alpha Anywhere is the ideal platform. It’s a low-code/no-code rapid mobile application development (RMAD) platform that lets you quickly write, change and update apps. Right out of the box, it integrates with any data source. In addition, with it, you can write offline apps, which is vital because your field team will inevitably visit some locations that don’t have internet access.

Read more about how Alpha Software is helping retailers compete in a mobile world.

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About Author

Amy Groden-Morrison
Amy Groden-Morrison

Amy Groden-Morrison has served more than 15 years in marketing communications leadership roles at companies such as TIBCO Software, RSA Security and Ziff-Davis. Most recently she was responsible for developing marketing programs that helped achieve 30%+ annual growth rate for analytics products at a $1Bil, NASDAQ-listed business integration Software Company. Her past accomplishments include establishing the first co-branded technology program with CNN, launching an events company on the NYSE, rebranding a NASDAQ-listed company amid a crisis, and positioning and marketing a Boston-area startup for successful acquisition. Amy currently serves as a Healthbox Accelerator Program Mentor, Marketing Committee Lead for the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Launch Smart Clinics, and on the organizing team for Boston TechJam. She holds an MBA from Northeastern University.

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