30% in the Dark: Retailers Struggle with Inventory Blind Spots

SYDNEY, March 25, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — While the concept of seamless integration between online and offline shopping experiences is widely acknowledged among retailers in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), a study by Manhattan Associates (NASDAQ: MANH) identifies a significant gap between the ambition for seamless integration between online and offline shopping experiences and actual practice. Retailers admitted that on average they only had an accurate indication of inventory across their entire operations 68% of the time – with just 4% reporting 100% accuracy.

“In 2024’s challenging economic landscape, where consumers are more hesitant to part with their money, the necessity for a frictionless shopping experience has never been more pronounced. ANZ retailers are at a crossroads, with a clear directive to enhance their omnichannel strategies,” said Raghav Sibal, Managing Director, ANZ, at Manhattan Associates. “Our research shows that if an item is out of stock, 36% of customers prefer having the option to find it at a nearby store or consider a similar product. Retailers who streamline this process, making every touchpoint and transaction as efficient and engaging as possible, can turn browsers into buyers.”

Consumer expectations reflect a clear preference for immediate solutions when products are unavailable in-store, signalling a strong demand for technologies that improve stock visibility and availability across channels. Manhattan Associates’ research also highlighted the partial integration between online purchases and in-store returns, with less than half of retailers (47%) offering this service.

Greater adoption of RFID tags in retail stores is one way to improve inventory accuracy, helping retailers to simultaneously achieve operational efficiencies and enhance the customer experience. Currently, 43% of retailers said they have adopted RFID technology into their operations, however only 34% are utilising RFID for ensuring accurate, real-time stock levels – highlighting that a significant majority of retailers are yet to advance their operational efficiency.

The significance of knowledgeable shop assistants is also highlighted, with 63% of consumers placing a premium on product expertise. Without an accurate view of stock or inventory, sales assistants are at a disadvantage, impairing their ability to fulfill their roles effectively.

“Equipping staff with the necessary tools and information is just as crucial as investing in technology to ensure they can deliver informed and engaging customer experiences,” commented Sibal.

While retailers in ANZ understand the necessity of omnichannel strategies, the challenge lies not in the desire to adopt them, but in the complexity of implementation. In today’s market, to simply offer integration is no longer sufficient.

“Retailers today need to rethink traditionally held ideas around assets and operations. This change is all about making shopping as easy and enjoyable in person as it is online. Walking into a store with prior online research is now the norm, making online and offline shopping a single, continuous experience,” said Sibal.

“Customers are looking for value, quality, and service. They demand consistency and the freedom to shop on their own terms, expecting a flawless experience no matter the method, time, or place of purchase. It’s essential for retailers to streamline their operations and technology to cater to the modern shopper, who doesn’t think in terms of channels. They require technology with the infrastructure, agility, flexibility, and scalability to join all the digital dots together if they are to maximise the potential of their stores and deliver a truly seamless and memorable customer experience,” he concluded.

For more information about Manhattan Associates, visit the company’s Careers page for a full list of available positions. Receive up-to-date product, customer and partner news directly from Manhattan Associates on XLinkedIn and Facebook.


Survey Methodology

A survey of 6,000 adult (aged 18+ years old) consumers explored their sentiments and attitudes towards the role of the physical store and store associates, innovative fulfilment options, sustainability, inventory visibility, convenience, consistency across channels and the shift in commerce.

Additionally, 1,150 management or senior-level officers in Tier 1 retail organisations (generating more than $100m in annual revenue) were surveyed about their technology based investment plans to support ecommerce, reduce customer friction and increase fulfilment options. Respondents represented retailers operating stores and online venues in the following sectors: beauty; household goods and furniture; consumer electronics; healthcare; DIY and home improvement; fashion; sporting goods; and pets.

Consumer and retailer respondents were based in the following countries: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.  

About Manhattan Associates

Manhattan Associates is a technology leader in supply chain and omnichannel commerce. We unite information across the enterprise, converging front-end sales with back-end supply chain execution. Our software, platform technology and unmatched experience help drive both top-line growth and bottom-line profitability for our customers. Manhattan Associates designs, builds and delivers leading edge cloud and on-premises solutions so that across the store, through your network or from your fulfilment centre, you are ready to reap the rewards of the omnichannel marketplace. For more information, please visit www.manh.com.