Harvest Group recently hosted a webinar to help suppliers learn how to manage omnichannel product availability within the unique challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak. Michael Turner, Team Lead of Digital Innovation at Harvest Group, James Sheppard, VP of Client Management at Rich Context, and Brad Dawson, Team Lead of Replenishment at Harvest Group, gave attendees a unique perspective on how replenishment and marketing for Online Grocery (OG) are crucial to an item’s success as Walmart shifts to a stronger omnichannel strategy.
New Omnichannel Strategy + Pandemic = Online Grocery Adoption
Customers are buying more online, new adopters are getting more comfortable purchasing online, and customers that have been shopping online for a while now are relying on the service more heavily than before. Digital penetration has doubled over the last two weeks and will likely continue to boast steady growth through this quarter. For Walmart suppliers: new online grocery shoppers are choosing to shop on Walmart.com! This brings a new emphasis to the importance of managing your OG media and replenishment efforts. Using media dollars to drive traffic to OG is only effective when your items are instock. Technology that can give you instock metrics in real-time is needed to make sure you’re not wasting the customer’s time (or worse, losing a potential customer’s future business) and your media dollars.
COVID-19’s Impact on Product Availability
The increase in demand has led to the increase of out of stocks, along with the potential for OG digital media waste. Many suppliers have run into the issue of their online media campaigns driving traffic to an item’s page, only to find out the item is out of stock. It is inevitable that some items will be out of stock with the surge of consumers trying to stock up. However, it is vital that suppliers leverage new resources to avoid wasting their media dollars pointing consumers to out of stock items. Pathlink by RichContext is helping suppliers optimize media dollars on Walmart.com by only driving traffic to instock items at a shopper’s nearest store. The tool uses unique technology to protect the user experience for the shopper so brands always have the ability to convert.
Not only are out of stocks on Walmart Grocery a source of media waste, but also a lost point of sale for suppliers and poor user experience for shoppers. Strong replenishment capabilities go hand in hand with optimized media buys. Utilizing data-driven replenishment tools to optimize an online marketing presence and an item’s instock numbers will pay dividends in your success in this new era. As a response to this need, Harvest Group has invested in building strong replenishment technology to monitor instocks for online items, providing updates in real-time. A single strategy for product availability is not enough during this time. Suppliers need to have a 360 approach to replenishment, media buys, and everything in between.
Optimizing Replenishment Technology and People for Best Results
From a replenishment perspective, there are 12-14 different data sets that can unlock key insights to help you adjust your strategy in real-time. A focused team + technology package is needed to manage out of stocks, Forecast Variance, and OTIF strategically. Drilling down to the corporate, DC, and store levels is important for identifying key issues in product availability. A team with specific skills and resources is needed to identify ongoing problems and recommend adjustments to mitigate lost sales.
More people are shopping online than ever, therefore, replenishment and media tactics are going to look a little different. Ensure your item availability now by putting the right team and technology in place so your product can be on shoppers’ favorites lists for years to come.