Knowing whether an item is available online is one of the most important drivers of omnichannel behavior, more so than click-and collect and sophisticated mobile site features. This year, 82% of digital shoppers considered the ability to check in-store inventory online to be important. And retailers are responding. For the first time, investments in inventory visibility reached a tipping point in 2015; 50% of Aspirational brands and 52% of Prestige brands in L2’s Intelligence Report: Omnichannel Retail provided inventory transparency, up from 41% and 32% in 2014. Zara, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, and Marc Jacobs were a few brands that added the new feature this year.
Where is inventory visibility lagging? Luxury, filtering, and in regions outside of the U.S. and U.K. Gucci is the only luxury brand in the study that has invested in inventory visibility. The U.S. has a clear lead in other regions, but the U.K. is catching up as heavyweights like Boots, Tesco, Harvey Nichols and John Lewis have added the feature in the past year.
Furthermore, inventory visibility is seldom filtered and customized for full effect. For example, 33% of brands that allow users to set a preferred store in navigation preferences do not integrate that with inventory visibility. Showing only products available in stores the searching consumers is able to visit can cut down on frustration and cart abandonment.