Make store stock digitally available
Fashion on demand
By Steffie Broere
By Steffie Broere
In our on-demand society, we watch movies and show series on Netflix, listen to music on Spotify, and order pizza whenever we like. Especially on those lazy Sundays, nothing beats not-so-healthy comfort food delivered at your front door in no time while binge-watching your favorite series after a busy week.
Retail is increasingly adapting to the on-demand lifestyle by offering convenient ways to order online. This ‘pizzafication’ of fashion retail is a must to meet expectations in a “stay home” economy. The last thing retailers want is to end up with is having shoppers empty-handed at a birthday party like our colleague Hilbert Dijkstra back in 2018 when he wrote this blog post.
Still, “the legacy” processes and technology solutions hamper many retail organizations’ ability to nail the pizzafication game. Especially in times of lock-downs and physical distancing, shopper behavior has massively shifted to buying online. Typically, e-commerce orders are fulfilled from a dedicated warehouse or distribution center. However, retailers often don’t realize they are sitting on a goldmine. With their dense network of stores, they are often close to where their customers are, a necessity for fast on-demand fulfillment. Ideally, retailers want to make all stock available for online order fulfillment, whether stored in stores or a DC,. The challenge is: a bunch of legacy systems need to be connected.
Why say an item is out of stock online, while it is still on-shelf in one of the stores? It all starts with accurate inventory levels and a unified view of the stock. Both can be enabled by RFID and EPCIS technology. With those technologies, store employees can be notified when a BOPIS (Buy Online Pick Up in Store) or Click & Collect order has been placed near their store and prepare it for pick-up immediately. The same goes for BOSS (Buy Online, Ship from Store). When a web order can’t be fulfilled from a DC, why not instantly check store stock and ship from there, just like Outdoor Voices and Scotch & Soda?
To nail the pizzafication game, understanding customer demand and adapting to it quickly are key. Today’s hyper demanding customers want their ordered items ideally instantly or at least the next day. If you know a shopper is located near your store, last-mile delivery services can change the fulfilment game. Young start-up providers, as well as major parcel services, are expanding their offering with such concepts quickly. Using such providers will allow retailers to increase their service levels without investing in dedicated infrastructure themselves while boosting customer experience and brand reputation.
One of the main benefits of leveraging a unified stock pool is that it takes away the need to apply sky-high safety stocks to guarantee item availability. This way, retailers can get rid of a true margin killer as safety inventory can’t be sold. As you only produce or purchase what you actually need to fulfil customer demands successfully, items no longer end up displayed in outlets or shredded in high numbers.
Leverage RFID to improve retail supply chain management?