IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

  • 25 Jun 2012

Guest Blog: How Technology Can Lead to In-store Fulfilment Success for Multichannel Retailers

By Michael Koploy, Software Advice


In order to better serve customers, a number of multichannel merchants have begun to augment their warehouse and distribution centres by fulfilling online orders from the inventory of retail outlets. By doing so, these merchants hope to cut down costs and get merchandise to customers sooner. In addition, retailers can avoid marking down items in the store when products are still high-demand online.

The secret to doing this in a retail environment? Think like a warehouse. Retailers can do this in three ways:

Item-Level Tracking
One of the most difficult aspects of in-store fulfilment involves the accuracy of tracking inventory. Holding accurate inventory counts is crucial to the success of these programs, as the software that backs these decisions needs an accurate picture of inventory to make the proper decision of where to pull it from.

Retailers can deploy radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to assist both the tracking of inventory and the location of items within the stores. RFID tags are attached to store items so retailers can locate them instantly – even if they’ve been moved to an incorrect position with the store by employees or customers. This is done by using RFID readers on the store aisles and outfitting associates with mobile RFID scanners. These mobile scanners can also alert associates when an item needs to be located, pulled and packed for shipping.

Optimal Labour Force
Warehouse environments commonly utilise workforce management systems to drive efficiency. Retailers can invest in similar solutions to align their shift-size to labour needs, and ensure that their employees are operating as efficiently as possible.

The first type of technology that retailers can invest in is people counting. By monitoring the traffic rates of customers in the store, retailers can create employee schedules that shift the most employees to the hours that will require the most labour. This will become important as employees are given more tasks related to in-store fulfilment.

After the correct shift-size is determined, the second type of technology that retailers can invest in is workforce management. These solutions assist with making shifts and holding employees accountable. More advanced systems can also schedule employees based on their skill sets and amount of training completed. This allows for retailers to ensure that each shift has the correct number of employees scheduled that can handle in-store fulfilment.

Recruiting and Hiring Fulfilment Experts
Finally, retailers may have to rethink their hiring criteria when looking for new employees: focusing on individuals that excel at multi-tasking and will do their job the right way – even if no one is looking.

You can read more about this subject over on the blog: Want to Master In-Store Fulfilment? Think Like a Warehouse.

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