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The Benefits of Virtual Shelves Beyond Endless Inventory

Tags: endless aisle inventory management virtual shelves

by Camille Chin  |  May 26, 2020

Empty grocery shelves were a common sight when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Everyone wanted antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer, and the hoarding is only now starting to subside. Whether it’s cleaning products or, say, kids toys, when consumers want something, they’re incredibly resourceful. The retail industry has to be prepared. Enter global suppliers.

The ability to access inventory from vendors worldwide and sell it to shoppers without ever purchasing or transporting any of it to a physical brick-and-mortar store is extremely powerful. In addition to bolstering inventory levels, access to stock beyond your enterprise walls also expands the assortment of your offerings. It’s an easy way to grow your store without requiring any immediate money, products and/or space.

The benefits don’t stop there. Here are five ways a global reach into your vendors’ stock (à la Endless Aisle and other similar solutions) benefits retailers like you.

1. Capitalize on In-Store Buyer Intent to Foster Satisfaction and Loyalty

No one leaves the safety of their home without an “essential” reason nowadays. If there’s foot traffic in your reopened retail stores, the people there have done their research and want something. Encourage shoppers to (safely) experience products; if a desired item isn’t in stock, the ability to access your enterprise and vendor inventory will save the sale.

Note: Endless Aisle retail sales typically occur because they were assisted by a store associate for an enhanced customer experience. Also remember, this is an opportunity to cross sell.

2. Achieve Bigger Product Assortments with Smaller Storage Demands

Your store shelves are not infinite, your warehouse does not go on and on. If only. Consider using your floor and shelf space for popular, in-demand items, and offer the rest of your product selections — like higher margin items — through your vendors. By offering an almost limitless digital selection (think Amazon), you’ll decrease the chance that shoppers will go elsewhere to spend their money.

Fact: Amazon Prime members are 52 percent more likely than other shoppers to take out their phones and buy what they need from online stores when they can’t find it in physical stores.

3. Save on Shipping Costs To and From Physical Stores

Endless Aisle solutions and the like deliver a one-two punch when it comes to shipping. When out-of-stock items or items that are not sold in all stores are ordered from your vendors, and your vendors then dropship the order products to customer homes, the benefits are twofold.

First, retailers save on transporting the order products to stores, be it the original store or another for pickup. Second, retailers save on then having to deliver the order products to households. Win-win.

4. Eliminate the Overstock Versus Out-of-Stock Tug of War

It’s one of retail’s biggest conundrums: order too much inventory and some items will inevitably go stale. Order too little, and a customer will waltz in, looking for the precise item you don’t have. Overstocks have cost North American retailers as much as US$123.4 billion annually in past years; out-of-stocks have cost them US$129.5 billion.

Endless Aisle strategies give retailers access to virtual shelves so their vendor and enterprise-wide merchandise are always within reach. It resolves the conflict of wanting to have an assortment of inventory always available for purchase, and not wanting to transport and store too much.

5. Empower In-Store Sales Associates and Strengthen CRMs

Endless Aisle solutions gives store associates the ability to sell what they don’t have. Talk about empowered. It also helps frame associates as problem solvers rather than salespeople.

Associates, interactive kiosks, mobile devices and an online store should all complement each other to provide shoppers with the best shopping experiences. An Endless Aisle and other similar solutions should deepen relationships and strengthen CRMs.

For information on Jesta’s Endless Aisle solution, click here. To start capturing more in-store sales using Endless Aisle, contact us or request a demo.

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