That merged inventory will presumably be the base for Macy's item-level RFID efforts, which are slated to go chain-wide by 2013. Merged inventory could also smooth out some of the kinks in Macy's Search-and-Send program, which lets one store access inventory from another store and have items shipped directly to a customer. That's currently in only a few dozen stores, but it should be easy to roll out chain-wide once the merged-channel inventory is in place.
Macy's is testing a merged version of its brick-and-mortar and online inventory systems chain-wide, and it expects to go live with the new system early in 2012. On Wednesday (Nov. 9), Macy's CFO Karen Hoguet told an earnings call that "we're going to be able to do [chain-wide merged inventory] very soon. We're testing it right now. And early next year, I think we're going to start doing it more and more, with the systems we have today. Having said that, we are going to invest over time in better systems that allow us to maximize the inventory easier without as much manual intervention, but it's not going to prevent us from doing the site to store to door."