Every local electronics store or favorite online e-commerce gadget stop are there simply to sell products. Or are they? Increasingly, customers want more. They want to buy from retailers who solve their problems and do it quickly. This was a key takeaway from JDA Software Group’s second annual Voice of Store Manager Survey.
“It’s clear that retailers are making progress to better handle operations in today’s retail environment, but inventory and staffing needs are often a bottleneck,” said Jim Prewitt, vice president, retail industry strategy at JDA. “It’s not a question of whether stores will evolve, but rather a question of ‘to what?’ Successful retailers are looking at how quickly their supply chain and store operations need to react and adapt.”
The supply chain is critical to executing successfully on this goal, though. Order fulfillment, inventory visibility, and staffing are all critical at the store level. Store managers report that stock data inaccuracies and slow replenishment top the list of headaches.
Technology is emerging to help with fulfillment challenges. Today, most (64%) have technology to help check availability using a mobile or wearable device or a centralized computer system. Increasingly, stores can offer customers a lot of flexibility with buy online ship from store; buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS); buy online return in-store (BORIS) options. These services help solve customer problems with the added benefit of encouraging them to shop both online and in stores.
“As customer expectations continue to rise, it will be crucial for brick-and-mortar stores to streamline how they fulfill customer orders and work to draw in shoppers with incentives for in-store fulfillment options like BOPIS,” Prewitt said. “In the future, we foresee some stores evolving into distribution centers, fulfilling 100% of customer demand while others will morph into showrooms with centralized fulfillment.”
Successful implementation, though takes careful planning, staffing, and training and ready to deal with the influx of returned products at the store level. “As store operations change with increasingly complex order fulfillment capabilities, the demands for staffing will change as well,” said Prewitt. “Based on our survey results, we predict there will be an uptick in tailored staffing hirers for both BOPIS and ship-from-store services.”
For this survey, JDA polled 252 U.S.-based retail store managers. The infographic below from JDA outlines some of the findings of the survey.
— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, EBN