Achieving excellence in fulfilment operations has become a top priority for fashion retailers in an increasingly digital landscape.
The significant rise in e-commerce, combined with the closure of physical stores in many countries, is forcing retailers to rethink fulfilment operations to better meet the changing needs of their customers -not to mention increasingly fierce competition for their loyalty.
And one way retailers are looking to do this is by launching new digital services to help customers to acquire goods despite shopping limitations, such as ship from store or click and collect.
Digital acceleration in the times of corona
Here we’ll highlight how scanning-enabled smartphones in the hands of retail associates, powered by Scandit, were integral in helping one large fashion retailer adapt during 2020, bringing forward the launch of their ship from store service, mitigating the impact of the pandemic on their profits and helping accelerate their digital transformation journey.
The challenge – Tackling surging online orders, store closures and falling sales
This high-end fashion retailer faced a challenge that will be familiar to many in the industry in 2020, as physical stores were forced to remain closed and they saw a real surge in e-commerce order volumes.
This online acceleration was putting their operations under strain, as it was proving difficult to fulfill the volume of orders from their existing warehouses, especially with large quantities of merchandise trapped in stores. They needed to find a solution, fast.
Already a Scandit customer, the retailer had smart devices empowered with multiple scanning-enabled mobile applications deployed in their retail operations for a variety of tasks, from customer-facing clienteling and mobile Point of Sale activities to receiving new items in the back of house.
In order to effectively fulfill surging online orders and satisfy their customers’ needs, knowing what products are in stock, and where they are, became even more crucial – especially as normal supply chains were disrupted by the crisis.
A ship from store fulfillment process was already planned to be launched in the future as part of their digital transformation journey – but now it was determined to bring this launch forward as part of their COVID response. And smartphone scanning had a key role to play.
The solution – Leveraging a single smart device strategy to deploy a new fulfilment app
Adapting at speed was essential. So based on the availability of both employees equipped with scanning-enabled smartphones and the merchandise already in store locations, they decided to develop and deploy a new in store fulfilment app to facilitate the ship from store service.
The ship from store fulfillment process enables the fashion retailer to use stock in their brick-and-mortar stores to fulfill orders. Fulfilling orders this way transforms the store itself into a virtual distribution hub with:
- Employees using their familiar smartphone devices to scan, pick and fulfil orders in closed stores for collection or delivery, using the mobile app powered by Scandit’s Barcode Scanner SDK, seamlessly integrated into stock management systems.
- Inventory data being constantly updated in real-time with every item scanned during the fulfilment process (or any other in store task) – providing a more accurate picture to help shift stock to where it’s needed.
So rather than being reliant exclusively on picking from warehouses, the retailer could now operate from the stores that were closed due to lockdown, rapidly launching their new ship-from-store service to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on sales in a timeframe that many rivals could only envy.
In fact, it took them less than 2 months to launch the new in-store fulfilment app. This was due to the flexibility of the technology underpinning their operations, as well as the expertise and skills in the business including:
- The app-based technology and know-how to build and launch a new app.
- iOS devices already deployed to store employees and an inventory management system that gave them the crucial visibility of stock.
- Employees are already used to completing multiple workflows on their familiar smartphones.
- Scandit’s Barcode Scanner SDK to assure high performance scanning during the order picking and dispatching process.
- Flexible IT infrastructure to support the deployment of another scanning-enabled app.
The benefits – Greater stock data accuracy leads to superior service and sales
Ultimately although the short term COVID situation accelerated the requirement, the ship from store solution is a future-proof service which helps differentiate the brand from the competition, while supporting the growing volume of online shoppers who want to acquire and collect goods in a number of ways.
It also supports new levels of employee productivity and satisfaction by leveraging a single device strategy. With one smart device, pre-loaded with 6+ mobile apps ready to go, any employee can effortlessly switch between different in store or back of house tasks as needed. No need to share, carry bulky scanners, carry multiple devices or switch between devices during a shift. See some examples of scanning-enabled smartphones in action:
So any employee can fulfill online orders and ship the items directly from stores, freeing stock, delivering superior service and merchandise availability, while keeping the retailers inventory data incredibly accurate too.
Satisfied staff with smartphone scanning
Smartphones also enable employees to communicate and access information anywhere in store for added efficiency, while staff often prefer the ergonomic experience using them too. During previous field tests conducted by Scandit with other retail enterprises, 2 in 3 of employees said they preferred a Scandit-powered smartphone scanner over that bulky dedicated scanner.
Scandit’s enterprise-grade barcode scanning performance is fast, accurate and reliable in real world considerations, enabling employees to scan with confidence whether picking orders on the shop floor or doing stock checks in the back rooms. Even with glare, low light, torn labels, scanning on high shelves or any of the other scenarios that occur during every shift.
Having personal devices for each employee, rather than limited shared hardware scanning devices in the store, means many hands scanning at all times and ensures the retailers’ inventory data is updated in real-time during every order fulfilled.
Having more, lower-cost smartphones deployed means there is no need to resort to error prone, slow manual processes during busy periods or sales, either when there aren’t enough devices to share around.
This superior inventory visibility not only helps ensure customers aren’t disappointed, it also helps the retailer by creating the flexibility to shift inventory from stores to e-commerce and in both directions as needed.
Reshaping fashion operations with smartphone scanning
This is just one example of how scanning-enabled smartphones are providing the flexibility and agility to help fashion retailers adapt at speed to an unexpected turn of events and the need for digital transformation – turning a difficulty into a differentiator.
Of course, unlike this example, you don’t need to have all of these elements already in place to launch scanning-enabled smartphones with Scandit. We’ve helped fashion retailers around the world tailor the perfect solution for their specific requirements, ecosystem and time frame.
Talk to us to learn more.