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Automate your inventories to stay competitive

By Brianna Liestman

The grocery industry and the boating industry are, on the surface, completely different from one another. After all, one is a need-based industry while the other is want-based. However, there is a lesson we can learn from the grocery industry’s resistance to change.

According to an article in The Washington Post, the typical manager of a food retail shop is “pretty much guessing” about their inventory. As cited from a study by Blue Yonder, a retail tech company, of the grocery managers and directors surveyed, 44 percent said replenishment of inventories is a manual process and a further 46 percent said that even when the process is automated, it can be overridden by managers.

Even worse, 48 percent of grocery managers and directors said they use a “gut feeling” when making inventory decisions. I have a feeling that’s why I went to a grocery store this summer and was told they “just didn’t have” any blueberries.

“Guessing” is not how you make inventory decisions if you want to be considered reliable by your customer base. Automation keeps inventory levels accurate and helps business owners know when it’s time to replenish to meet the customers’ needs. This is of particular importance for keeping parts and accessories inventories up to date.

In the Blue Yonder study, it was reported that a quarter of grocers are not delivering at the speed their customers require. That poses a great risk for businesses that could lose customers to a competitor – say, Amazon, who is rumored to be entering the brick-and-mortar grocery business.

“'Only those retailers who understand the importance of advanced machine learning algorithms and big data will survive and thrive grocery retail into the future,’ said Michael Feindt, Blue Yonder’s founder in a company’s blog post.”

The same could be said about marine parts and accessories retailers. If you want to survive and thrive, get your inventories automated. Otherwise, you can’t confidently tell your customers you are their go-to source for all things boating.

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