All jobs have those tasks that we don’t like doing. The accountant filling in their spreadsheets, sales populating the CRM, the doctor filing blood results.
These tasks all have one thing in common. They are tedious. They take time and are dull.
Retail is no different. It has its fair share of tedious tasks. But although tedious, they are still vitally important to making sure stores run smoothly and customers are happy.
Retailers need to find a way to unburden their store associates and ensure tasks don’t get delayed, or worse, not completed at all.
But what are those tasks? And how can associates be relieved from them to focus where it really matters?
In this guide, we explore the five most tedious store operations tasks and how to shift them to technology.
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Every retailer receives goods in one way or another. In all cases, they must know what they have in stock, so typically involves counting. Either manually counting and updating the system or scanning and counting boxes one by one.
It can be slow and error-prone. And getting the count wrong here has repercussions across a business.
According to the Auburn University RFID Lab, the average level of inventory accuracy for U.S. retailers is 65%, meaning that more than a third of the time, the average retailer can’t tell where a particular item is, or whether they even have it in stock.
It can cause stockouts and overstocking which costs retailers money.
Solving errors at source
Manual counting is the tedious part and it’s where errors happen as concentration wavers. Plus we are human and we all make mistakes.
Faster counting and immediately alerting store associates to any issues means errors are solved at the source.
MatrixScan Count makes receiving goods 10x faster and error-proof. Its ability to scan multiple barcodes simultaneously and provide real-time feedback using augmented reality (AR), not only improves productivity but also the experience of associates.
But what if the receiving area doesn’t allow for neatly stacked boxes and barcodes face in many different directions?
SparkScan is the fastest and most intuitive way to perform single scanning using smartphones. We obsessed over every detail of the user experience so our customers don’t have to.
Suitable for scan-heavy tasks, SparkScan makes scanning effortless. Enabling one-handed scanning at any angle without having to rely on a screen for aiming.
The result? Receiving goods is easier, quicker and ultimately not as dull.
Accelerated by the pandemic, omnichannel options like Buy Online Pickup In Store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup have placed a greater strain on retailers to fulfill orders.
of global consumers are likely or very likely to do the majority of their shopping online in 2023.
Source: Mirakl, Consumer Preferences in the Digital-First Economy 2022
Loved by customers, but less so by store associates, in-store order fulfillment has added quite a few tedious tasks to the to-do list.
One of them is order picking.
It can be very scan-heavy, especially for groceries where basket sizes can be well over 100 items. Scanning the item and the bin each time. Not to mention trying to find the right items in the first place.
Errors here are a source of frustration for shoppers, with dodgy substitutions getting a good laugh on social media.
Fish fillets instead of Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream anyone?
Image courtesy of Sky News
But the impacts on retailers are more serious. In a world where delivery times and product availability rule the roost, slow and inaccurate picking can erode customer loyalty.
Easy does it
For order picking, SparkScan and our augmented reality capability are an ideal fit. The physical picking still has to be done, but we make the finding and scanning of each item as easy as possible. Resulting in 30% faster order fulfillment.
The ergonomics of the SparkScan interface reduce the strain on the associate as they go about picking their orders. It can be integrated into existing store ops applications with as little as 5 lines of code and the pre-built user interface means you can get up and running in minutes.
If associates are happy with an existing UI, then our Barcode Scanner SDK provides the same unmatched scanning performance but with the option of further customization.
Finally, being able to save time when trying to find each item on the shelf can be a game-changer for the store associate.
We can drastically reduce the time spent head scratching and aimlessly searching for items.
Using Scandit’s MatrixScan Augmented Reality capability, store associates can be instantly shown where an item is for picking.
Once orders are picked and stored back-of-house ready for the customer to collect, the right order must be found when they arrive. A customer’s order may contain multiple items that are stored in different locations.
Finding all the correct elements in the staging area can be a slow process. Scanning or visually inspecting labels one by one.
Similarly, conducting a staging area audit suffers from the same inefficiencies. When orders get canceled or expire, it’s imperative that store associates can see at a glance the status of orders and what can go back on the shelves. Especially when perishable items are included.
Give the green light
The ability to instantly see which items are needed can be a huge time saver for the associate. Not having to inspect each tote or bag can cut frustration and satisfy customers with speedy service.
Getting a glimpse of the staging area status using a traffic light system can easily identify anything that requires action.
Scandit’s unique MatrixScan Augmented Reality capability means multiple barcodes or QR codes can be scanned at once and valuable information displayed as an AR overlay.
Just by holding a smartphone up to shelves, the store associate can see at a glance what order to assemble and the status of others that might need actioning.
Price, promotion and label execution
Executing prices and promotions correctly can provide retailers with a big sales boost. But getting them wrong can have equally sized negative effects.
On average, half of retailers lose 5-10% in sales due to poor execution.
Not only can poor execution cost retailers revenue but customer trust is eroded too. Discrepancies between the shelf and point-of-sale leave customers frustrated and unwilling to accept overcharges.
The poor execution normally stems from the fact that manually checking and updating prices is time-consuming and error-prone. Very much a retro process.
Scanning labels and visually checking each one is tedious. It can take a few seconds to do each one and the time adds up. Thousands of hours can be spent simply checking prices.
The price is right
Cut the time it takes to verify the price on shelf labels and you remove the tedium. Provide real-time actionable insights at the point of data capture and you remove the errors.
In just one second, this is exactly what Scandit ShelfView can do. Using a smart device, individual shelf labels including the barcode and price are captured. Both bits of data are sent to the cloud where the shelf price is compared to the system price. Feedback is provided directly to the associate via augmented reality on the device screen.
One Scandit retail customer reduced the time it took to audit 100 labels by 93%. With any corrections required immediately carried out.
Different retailers handle shelf replenishment in different ways. But regardless of the precise workflow, many of the issues are the same. Stockouts are costly and eyeballing gaps on shelves where there is low or no stock can be hugely time-consuming.
If a customer has come to the store for a particular item and it isn’t there then not only do sales get lost, but customer loyalty is affected.
Many retailers use gap scanning, with varying efficiency.
Recording with pen and paper and taking that list back-of-house being the least efficient. But even regular single scanning can be a bit annoying when items are all over the shelf and sharp eyes are needed to find and scan the label.
Speed is crucial to ensure items get restocked or reordered as quickly as possible. So how can we make this faster?
Mind the gap
SparkScan can accelerate gap scanning and restocking list building. Low-quantity items can be anywhere on a shelf, so the ability to easily aim and quickly scan the barcodes speeds the whole process up.
The list is generated automatically and when synced with an inventory management system the associate can perform a back-of-house check and rectify any stock inaccuracies with a few taps of the device screen.
We can not only display current stock but also show how much is being delivered and when. For areas that look low on stock or where a promotion might be coming, the associate can interact with items at the shelf level using MatrixScan Augmented Reality.
Making replenishment an easier task and ensuring customers can buy what they want when they want it.
Like every job, there are tasks that we just don’t like to do. Regardless of what you sell or your store set up, tedious tasks exist. But for retailers and their store associates, there is hope.
We have worked alongside retailers to solve their biggest challenges when it comes to inefficient store operations. Our Smart Data Capture technology has unique capabilities that can enable store associates to work smarter and faster.
Dive deeper into our Smart Data Capture Platform to see how we can make the working lives of your associates better and improve the performance of your business.