Inventory and shopper experience teams must collaborate

One of the trends affecting the need for tight collaboration between inventory and experience is the rise of marketplace selling. In 2018, more than half (58%) of Amazon’s sales occurred through third-party selling rather than wholesale. There has also been a significant increase in new routes to market that operate as marketplaces, such as Instagram, and Google Shopping Actions. Shoppers now discover and buy products directly from media platforms as they are going about their daily lives.

On the digital shelf, back-office functions are just as much a part of the product experience as messaging and photography. For example, on Amazon, an unintended back-office stockout doesn't just mean a potential sale is lost. Even after restock, it can take months to bring back product SEO. Potential sales can be lost to a competitor's product that continued to show up in results and wasn't punished by search ranking algorithms for a stockout. On the flip side, an overstock can result in price and value decline due to excess supply and elastic product demand.

Additionally, consumers can only discover products that have available inventory, and are intolerant of orders that can’t be fulfilled because inventory levels were inaccurate. That makes “front-end-focused” systems for inventory a requirement rather than an opportunity. In this new environment, brands must handle inventory and experience together.