Retail stores are feeling the pain of an evolving marketplace, where consumers have multiple paths to purchase and stores have become fulfillment nodes in the retail supply chain. One of the many challenges this presents is a dramatic shift from linear inventory flows to more complex multi-point flows between DCs, stores and customers.
The effects of this transformation are already being felt. For example, it is currently estimated that worldwide there is a one trillion dollar out-of-stock problem in stores, resulting in lost sales and dissatisfied customers.
One solution is simply to stuff the supply chain with more inventory. Not only has this not solved the problem, it is reversing the gains made from previous innovation in supply chain logistics. Instead of inventory costs being reduced, they are actually increasing. Clearly, a new approach is called for.
Store Inventory Visibility
A new solution aimed squarely at solving the problem of out-of-stocks in the retail store is needed. The solution must provide visibility to inventory within each store coupled with coordinated task management to ensure customer expectations are met by having products always available when the customer wants them.
Utilizing technology such as RFID chips will take inventory visibility to the shelf level. Retailers will not only know when shelves are low on stock, but also when inventory is out of place, such as when a customer picks up an item and then puts it down someplace else. By integrating the information from RFID technology into task management systems, retailers can immediately assign associates to move inventory to ensure there is always sufficient inventory on shelves and that it is in the right location within the store.
The Bigger Picture
Ideally, the visibility solution should also be integrated with floor planning and planogram solutions to create store layouts that meet the needs of customers and are also more efficient for employees to stock, restock, and pick from for in-store customer pickups and home deliveries. The goal is that however a customer chooses to shop, whether buying online and picking up in-store, or buying in-store and having items shipped home, coordinated inventory and task management capabilities will enable stores to swiftly and profitably meet those needs.
The store of the future will need to be more than just a place to buy or pick up products, however. It will need to become a center for more personalized customer shopping experiences. Since shoppers can go online for product pricing and feature comparison, the store must go beyond mere product presentation to provide an improved customer experience that differentiates the retailer in the marketplace.
One component of this experience is improved interaction with store employees. To enable this, stores must be better organized, freeing up employees to engage customers and aid them on their path to purchase. An integrated task management system that can prioritize tasks, ensuring employees are available when shoppers need them.
With new store logistics and task management solutions, customers will find the products they want, when they want them, while at the same time store associates will be more productive, with increased availability for customer engagement and selling.
Stay tuned for more on this from us in coming months as we bring forth next-generation Store Logistics technology, in tandem with Intel. Catch a sneak peek of what’s to come in the Intel IoT blog: Intel IoT Tech Drives Enhanced Store Intelligence Solutions at JDA FOCUS.