IBM unveils new inventory management software

Inventory Visibility tool aims to offer a single view of inventory and allow real-time inventory counts

IBM (NYSE: IBM) has announced a new product, known as IBM Inventory Visibility. It is a modular supply chain application based in the cloud that gives a single, real-time view of inventory tracking across an entire fulfillment network.

IBM is hoping for this product will make big inroads as they say its architecture is designed to integrate with firms’ existing order management or ERP systems and work across silos and different systems. The software also has an open architecture to allow IT resources to make software changes and quickly deploy without significant up-front investment.

On top of this, IBM says that the analytics capabilities are also included, such as through monitoring fluctuations in demand.

Inventory Visibility is aimed at addressing what IBM sees as today's most pressing fulfillment and inventory challenge, which are:

  • Lack of accurate available-to-promise inventory levels across channels, resulting in lost sales and poor customer experiences
  • Giving away margin due to markdowns and unplanned expedited shipping charges
  • Limited ability to enter new channels to grow their business

"In a growing hunger to offer increasingly convenient and flexible shopping options to their consumers, retail company consumer fulfilment processes have become increasingly complex. Retailers now recognize that investment in distributed order management (DOM) systems is necessary to manage this growing consumer order fulfillment complexity," wrote Tom Enright, VP Analyst, Gartner. "Such varied shopping patterns generate unpredictability into a retailer's fulfilment and inventory positioning practices…Expect some minor and unanticipated interface requirement changes to emerge during the build stage. During this stage, place a primary level of importance upon the need to understand end-to-end inventory."1

"I have seen that smart brands have learned a cohesive omnichannel strategy – inclusive of physical locations—can be a very powerful differentiator and is no longer optional as order fulfillment and speed of delivery have grown in importance with customers expecting to receive what they want, when and where they want it," said Jeanette Barlow, VP of Offering Management, IBM Watson Supply Chain. "This level of service fundamentally impacts the cost to serve every order. Legacy ERP and eCommerce order capture systems cannot provide a complete, real-time view of all inventory as SaaS-based solutions can, and also quickly integrate into any channel to optimize profitability."

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