It is no secret that competition between retailers is at its peak, as all race to stay ahead of the curve with tactics to increase sales and attract more shoppers in-store and online. With the adoption of integrated shoppers service models, retailers who have their click and collect services right are the ones who impress consumers most.
With its many delivery options, click and collect is becoming an increasingly expensive service for retailers to provide. The costs of picking and delivering individual items to independent locations are soaring far beyond a bulk delivery to a physical store. However, if an investment is injected in the right areas, click and collect can become very profitable for brick & mortar retailers. They have a lot to gain from anything that brings customers in-store, where the possibility of driving upsells and re-enforcing brand engagement is strong.
It is possible to run efficient click and collect services as something other than a loss-leader or a “necessary evil”, and it’s not about trial and error, or cutting corners. The secret to making the click and collect successful and profitable is to create a process chain based on three pillars: real-time inventory visibility connected IT systems and an efficient receiving area - without any weak links.
To effectively and efficiently manage orders, store associates and systems must share accurate real-time inventory visibility. This means that systems must be able to correctly identify the location of each individual product across the business, whether that be in store, in the warehouse or the distribution centre.
Without this accurate and real-time visibility of stock in-store, retailers cannot rely on accurate identification and traceability of individual items, therefore online orders collected in-store will need to be picked and fulfilled at the warehouse level.
Pickers will need to move orders that have been individually picked from the warehouse to the staging areas, where they will often need to be combined with other picked goods before they are ready for shipment. Items can remain in staging areas until the entire order is complete, which if not managed correctly, could lead to inefficient shipment processes and add up countless incremental costs.
Therefore, the biggest hit for retailers is not the logistical issues of click and collect services, instead of the cost implications that these additional handling and fulfilment services entail, which ultimately decrease an organization’s bottom line.
As technology rapidly advances in the retail space, processes are becoming increasingly transparent and shoppers no longer tolerate poor or lagging shopper service models. Whatever channel a shopper enquiry comes from, retailers need a single, accurate version of the truth. IT systems need to be connected.
As all the different elements of the fulfilment network have different speeds and capabilities, it’s crucial to understand how orders flow through the process, and for systems to be properly connected. This absolutely must include a robust, reliable and watertight-secure wireless network.
To ensure a seamless delivery and receiving process, retailers need to ensure they have clear areas where goods can be received in-store. This includes stock-rooms, loading bays, and areas on the shop floor to receive returns. These areas need to be properly equipped with scanners, rugged mobile devices, and handheld mobile printers.
Guided receiving and put away solutions and processes are crucial to maintaining streamlined and reliable operations. These will allow store associates to access accurate, real-time information about what was received when it was received, and its condition. Providing store associates with the ability to reconcile received merchandise on-hand decreases inventory loss and increases profitability.
For more information on Zebra’s Click and Collect solutions, please visit 3 Steps to Profitable Click and Collect.
By Mark Thomson, Director of Retail and Hospitality EMEA, Zebra Technologies