Is retail an art? Or is it science? Or perhaps a combination of the two? First the merchants and planners endeavor to create the most compelling assortments at the right price points as well as sales forecasts to determine appropriate inventory levels and purchasing needs — followed by supply chain and logistics strategies to get goods to the stores in the most efficient manner. All of this is managed with a high degree of precision. Retailers are implementing merchandise management solutions to optimize assortments and pricing. Warehouse and transportation management systems ensure the flow of product into the stores is accurate and timely.

But what happens when the merchandise arrives in the store?

Granted, just about every retailer has a process for planograms and promotional sets. There are standards (created by the visual merchandising teams) that specify exactly how that wonderful assortment is to be presented to the end consumer. However,  unless the store executes their part of the last “100 feet,” those plans will inevitably fail to meet their full potential.

Unfortunately for most retailers, the concepts that serve them so well in their distribution centers break down once the inventory reaches the stores.

The shipment is received into the store, and the quantities on the invoice are simply added to the store’s perpetual inventory as if the product was all consolidated in a single location within the store. We all know that’s rarely ever the case. We are not suggesting that a store ever be able to reach the levels of accuracy enjoyed by distribution centers — where nothing moves without specific directives (from receipt to shipment), but we are suggesting that continuing to ignore the lack of precision is a recipe for disaster as the lines continue to blur between consumer purchasing channels.

Odds are, the accuracy of inventory in your store is hovering around 60%. This means that nearly half of the products in your stores are suffering from the lack of precision that ultimately snowballs into a host of much bigger issues:

  • When you walk the store and see empty shelves
  • When you re