The incremental expenses involved in simply meeting, let alone exceeding expectations of Click and Collect, mean that most retailers are struggling to make the process profitable.
As a high-profile undertaking in a retailer’s journey to efficiency, Click & Collect carries more brand impact than traditional channels as it relies on customers being able to take delivery of their goods quickly and accurately. It’s rapidly becoming a tradition to point out that the retailers who have got their Click & Collect right are the ones who have impressed the consumer over this period.
However you slice it, however you embrace it or try to ignore it, Click & Collect is big business. Retailers with brick & mortar stores have a lot to gain from a service that brings customers instore, where the possibility of driving upsell and reinforcing brand engagement is strong.
The trick to creating an efficient process chain without any weak links lies in the following three pillars:
1. Real-time inventory visibility
To manage orders effectively, store associates and systems have to share accurate real-time inventory visibility. This means systems need to be able to accurately identify the correct location of every product across the business at the item level – whether in stores, warehouses or distribution centres. Without this visibility, items available direct from store stock might not be properly identifiable, and online orders collected in store will have to be picked at the warehouse and handled as special items, adding handling costs to fulfillment.
At the warehouse level, it’s important to consider the added costs that inefficient shipment staging can produce. When pickers move products from the warehouse to staging areas, they often need to combine items with other picked goods before they are ready for shipment and items remain in a staging area until the entire order is complete.
2. Connected IT systems
Allowing silos of information to develop and thrive is something that inevitably leads to consumer frustration down the line. Wherever an item is and whatever channel a customer enquiry comes from, retailers need a single, accurate version of the truth. IT systems need to be connected.
Given that the different elements of the fulfillment network (store, warehouse, distribution centre, manufacturer direct etc) have different speeds and capabilities, it’s critical to understand how orders flow through the fulfilment process, and for systems to be properly joined-up. Retailers must not neglect the basics – connected IT systems need a robust, reliable and watertight wireless network.
3. Efficient receiving areas
Retailers need to set, communicate and enforce a clear delineation of the areas where goods are received in-store. This will include stock-rooms, loading bays, and also 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 essential to maintaining smooth and accurate operations. These allow associates to access accurate, real-time information about what was received, when it was received and the condition it was in. Enabling associates to reconcile received merchandise on hand reduces inventory loss and thereby increases profitability.
To learn more about creating an efficient Click & Collect service, click here.