Innovative Retail Technologies

NOV-DEC 2016

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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Closing Points Mobile Guidance For Store-Level Fulfillment O ne of the major trends observed in recent iterations of our "Retail Tech Spending Report" is the incredible level of mobile device deployment in retail stores. Early on, the end game for these devices was decidedly POS. Now, the research (see the report on page 6) tells us that the mobile devices being shipped to stores will increasingly see duty as associate task management enablers. That's timely, given all the changes to the store associate's job description of late. Not the least of those changes is the store associate's newfound re- sponsibility for store-level fulfillment. Consider that warehouses and distribution centers have invested mil- lions of dollars in spatial science and automation to squeeze every last drop of efficiency out of pick, pack, and ship operations. Yes, those warehouses and DCs are tasked with handling an incredible number of those tasks, 24/7/365. That might not be the case in stores, where a handful to a few dozen ship-from-store orders might be routed in a given day. But, that volume is growing, and store associates typi- cally face a few more variables than their warehouse and DC counterparts. The folks in the supply chain boxes don't have a responsibility to cater to unpredictable customer requests and expectations. They don't have to dedi- cate hours of each day to merchandis- ing and shelf presentation. They don't have to fill in at cash wraps when the lines up front get too long. That's not to take anything away from their criti- cal role in the grand scheme of things. But, if DC associates are granted the benefits of pick-to-light, robotics, and automation, is it too much for a store associate to ask for a mobile device that can help them locate a SKU for a customer, guide them through the most logical shelf stocking sequence when the trucks roll in, and map out the most efficient picking path when tasked by a corporate algorithm with the store-level fulfillment of online orders? The technology is there. Modern commerce platforms provide virtual access to enterprise-wide inventory. Today's order management tools efficiently enable the fluidity of that inventory — the ability to allocate it to another store, prepare it for in- store pickup, or ready it for delivery to the customer's home. CRM programs with modern store mapping and task management applications provide a 360-degree view of the enterprise and its customers. When extended to mobile devices, these programs em- power store associates to execute. Today's store associates need mobile guidance to efficiently weave customer service, inventory manage- ment, ship-from-store, and general "shop keeping" tasks into the flow of their shifts. Whether accessing a customer's purchase history to en- hance her experience with the brand, obtaining the holistic view of network inventory necessary to save a sale, or supporting digital channels and logical fulfillment methodology by efficiently managing pick, pack, and ship operations in the ship-from-store environment, mobile access to the commerce platform — and task man- agement governance — are necessary to efficient execution. Legacy approaches to the manage- ment of store associates' tasks aren't conducive to the new omni-channel reality. Served up on a mobile device, the marriage of the extended digital enterprise and task management tools encourage and direct associates to move beyond the four walls, past the status quo, and execute on sales- enabling tasks they simply couldn't do just a few years ago. BY MATT PILLAR SENIOR EXECUTIVE EDITOR @mattpillar linkedin.com/in/matthewpillar Nov-Dec 2016 34 Legacy approaches to the management of store associates' tasks aren't conducive to the new omni-channel reality.

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