Click & collect growth forces rethink of in-store processing
Rapidly increasing demand for click & collect is causing issues for retailers who are having to deal with significant volumes of store-picking of goods in order to fulfil this growing number of orders. By Glynn Davis in New York
Marks & Spencer has been able to deal with levels of 200-300 click & collect orders per day in its stores, but with predictions that they could move up to facing as much as 3,000-4,000 per week then the existing software and processes will begin to struggle under the increased pressure.
The company is now working with software partners to group together a number of products for picking at the same time. This will boost the efficiency levels of employees engaged in in-store picking, which is one area of inventory management that M&S is looking to improve.
Such inefficiency with cick & collect has been recognised by Su Doyle, North American Field Marketing at Checkpoint, who says utilising RFID technology can help alleviate some of the growing problems in-store: "Stores are not efficient with Click & Collect."
At present, Doyle says it is typical for lists of barcodes to be scanned on individual Click & Collect orders and only a modest text description being given to help locate the items. This can lead to a lengthy picking time - especially for part-time and casual staff with limited product knowledge.
With RFID, Doyle says a scan of the tag will bring up detailed information on the product and visual imagery for ease of finding the items. Utilising a Geiger counter sound from the handheld scanner can further help locate the products. In addition, multiple orders can be dealt with concurrently to again increase efficiency.
Steve Powell, director of sales - EMEA, at PCMS, says handling Click & Collect orders is just one of a growing number of elements that in-store systems now have to deal with as multi-channel takes greater hold.
He suggests the ideal scenario for retailers is to run all such customer-related aspects through their Point-of-Sale devices whereby they act as the hub through which can be pulled CRM data on the customer, their social media activity, along with relevant product information and stock levels. It should also be possible to process Click & Collect orders, deal with returns, issue refunds in real-time while also adjusting inventory levels at the master level accordingly.
Marks & Spencer and Waitrose have both moved down this route with their implementation of PCMS' OnDemand solution, which also allows 'mixed baskets' whereby customers' online orders can be mixed with their in-store purchases in a single basket and transaction on the PoS.