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Spring Fair 2024: Discussing the Retail Industry’s Most Common Operational Challenges

Written by Harry Bray

Our time at Spring Fair 2024 was an opportunity to connect with retailers from various sectors and deep dive into the pressing daily challenges they face. As our experienced team of experts provided a whopping total of 38 free retail therapy sessions, we gained insights into the obstacles that trouble retail businesses. From reconciliation of records to aligning B2B and D2C operations, the hurdles are as diverse as the solutions. Here, we discuss the six most common challenges that retailers talked to us about and explore how data integration can pave the way for streamlined, efficient, and more profitable retail operations.

 

1. Processing High Order Volumes

 

Retailers expressed their struggle with reconciling records, often spending countless hours ensuring that sales data, inventory levels, and financial records align. Discrepancies can lead to significant issues, including financial losses, stock discrepancies, and impaired decision-making.

Our advice: Integrating data across platforms with an iPaaS like Patchworks ensures real-time synchronisation of records. This not only minimises the manual labour involved in reconciliation but also reduces errors. With integration, retailers can have a single source of truth, ensuring that every decision is backed by accurate, real-time data.

 

2. Overselling (When in Multiple Channels)

Retailers with multiple sales channels often find it challenging to maintain accurate stock levels across all platforms, this could be because of multiple software instances that aren’t aligned with their warehouse. This can lead to overselling, resulting in disappointed customers and a damaged reputation which is often irreversible.

Our advice:A robust data iPaaS can synchronise inventory levels across all channels in real-time. This ensures that when a product is sold on one platform, the stock levels on all other platforms are updated instantly, preventing overselling, providing real-time stock availability online and delivering a top-quality customer experience.

3. Manual Product Data Updates

Updating product information across multiple systems is not only time-consuming but also prone to human error. Retailers find this process exhausting and inefficient, often leading to inconsistencies in product data presented to customers.

Our advice: Integration automates the process of updating product information across all systems. This ensures consistency and accuracy in product data, saves valuable time, and allows retailers to focus on more important tasks like business strategy.

4. Pre-orders

Managing pre-orders can be a logistical nightmare. Retailers need to accurately forecast demand, allocate inventory, and ensure timely delivery, all while keeping customers informed and satisfied.

Our advice: With integrated data systems, retailers can more accurately forecast demand thanks to historic consumer behaviour data. Additionally, integration allows for streamlining inventory allocation and automating customer communication. This ensures a smoother process for handling pre-orders, leading to satisfied customers and efficient operations.

5. Actionable Insights & Reporting into Business Operations

Retailers are often inundated with disjointed data yet struggle to derive meaningful insights. The challenge lies in bringing this data together, processing and presenting it in a digestible format that allows management teams to make educated decisions.

Our advice: A unified integration platform can collate data from various sources, providing a comprehensive view of the business. Advanced analytics can then transform this data into actionable insights, enabling retailers to make informed decisions, predict market trends, and optimise operations.

6. Aligning B2B & D2C Operations 

Balancing the needs and operations of B2B (Business-to-Business) and D2C (Direct-to-Consumer) channels can be complex. Retailers need to manage different inventory levels, pricing strategies, consumer portals and customer expectations.

Our advice: Data integration facilitates a harmonised view of operations across B2B and D2C channels. Retailers can manage inventories more efficiently, tailor pricing strategies per channel, and provide a consistent customer experience, all through a single, integrated platform.

In conclusion, our experience at Spring Fair 2024 was more than just about providing solutions; it was about understanding the pulse of the retail industry. The challenges retailers face are as complex as the dynamics of the market itself. However, the key to addressing these challenges lies in embracing technology, specifically data integration. By leveraging Patchworks’ iPaaS, retailers can not only overcome these common challenges but also pave the way for a future where efficiency, accuracy, and customer satisfaction define their success.

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