Inventory Management for Mobile Device and Accessory Retailers

Inventory Management

Mobile devices have been a hot commodity in recent years, with the launch of the latest iPhone becoming almost like a new holiday. Last September, when Apple launched the new iPhone 6, the NPD Group found that accessory sales topped $249 million in the two weeks following the launch, and that’s only for a single brand of phone.

As is the case whenever there is heavy consumer demand for specific product types, many retailers have jumped on the mobile device and accessory bandwagon. However, this category of products is more complex than other conventional retail items, and merchants will need to rethink how they use inventory management tools to account for these goods.

The mobile differentiator

So, what makes mobile devices and accessories different than conventional retail products? A big contributing factor is that these devices need to be locked down to a single customer and tracked as such through serialization. Smartphones and accessories are not identical like other products.

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Devices need to be locked down to a single customer and tracked as such through serialization.

Each mobile purchase is different, which is why it is vital that retailers can track which units are which – people may or may not want to purchase insurance policies or use different mobile service providers, for example. If customers have a problem with their phones, retailers need to be able to quickly look up the device and see when it was purchased, which configurations were purchased and which service options are available to that specific buyer.

To make matters even more complex, many phones come in different variations. Retailers may receive a case of iPhones, but as is the case with the most recent iPhone launch, it could be an iPhone or an iPhone 6 Plus, and the storage may also vary between 16, 64 or 128 GB. Again, this makes it pivotal that retailers are easily able to track each individual product. Merchants may even need to break this down further, based on whether the product is new, used or refurbished.

Utilizing inventory management systems to sell mobile devices and accessories

Retailers need to utilize inventory management and product information management systems that help them track the serial number, condition, physical location, and purchase details.

Because selling mobile devices and accessories can be such a complex task, retailers need to utilize inventory management and product information management systems that help them track the serial number, condition, physical location, and purchase details. These tools will not only help retailers keep better tabs on their smartphones and related mobile accessories, they can also be used to improve sales efficiency across multiple marketplaces, such as Newegg, eBay, Amazon and Sears.

Mobile device and accessories have proven to be a top seller for merchants. While these devices may require a more specialized approach than merchants may be used to, with the right solutions in play, retailers can move into this market to capitalize on demand.

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