When warehouse technologies make their in store debut
Pandemic has turned the retail sector upside down. Stores under lockdown restricted by curfew became warehouses overnight. This sudden change has blurred barriers that used to separate the traditional physical store from the logistics warehouse.
While some consumers are happy to return in physical stores, others have definitely embraced online shopping. The store must therefore reinvent itself to meet the demand.
Inventory, shelving and return/refund methods were already part of the vocabulary of in-store salespeople. Now they will have to integrate warehouse terms: picking, packing or quality control. In this article, we present six warehouse technologies that could be transposed to the physical store.
This method works with warehouse management software (a WMS): lighted tags are integrated into the warehouse shelves and light up to indicate to the operator to come and pick the goods. The light also specifies the number of products to be retrieved from the shelf for greater accuracy and fewer errors.
Such a system allows for greater operational fluidity by reducing unnecessary paths. This organization saves time on the control of prepared orders to limit errors. The Pick-to-light also allows a real time stock update by transmitting the information to the WMS software as soon as the operator has picked the requested products.
In retail, the Pick-To-Light is ideal for eliminating errors in the preparation of online orders for Drive or Click & Collect deliveries. In the shelves, the process would be simple: the salesperson selects on his device the product to be collected, the light beacon lights up on the shelf and the product can be easily retrieved.
To go further, we could imagine that this system is available to the customer who shop in store. Via his mobile application, he could choose his product and be guided by the light to move faster in the aisles. The customer's journey in the store would be smoother and more efficient.
With this method, the operator is equipped with smart glasses to prepare his orders. These augmented reality glasses are of great interest in the logistics sector. Operators can see the environment in which they work and have access to additional information: product references, their location in the warehouse and the quantity to be picked.
Depending on the model, the glasses can also read bar codes. Useful in the retail sector for salespeople who prepare orders. Here, the worker saves time on the picking of products but also on their scanning, all in a more comfortable way since he frees his hands from a cumbersome device: everything happens under his eyes.
These stores respond to the new consumer habits at the end of the pandemic. They have the appearance of physical stores, however, dark stores are only intended for the distribution and preparation of orders.
This allows salespeople to wander the aisles without being disturbed by customers or disturbing them. With the increase of e-commerce purchases, the operators on the shelves must be agile and efficient. Guided by warehouse management software, salespeople can pick faster by moving through the aisles with their picking carts.
Dark stores work like warehouses but are located closer to the customer. This system facilitates last mile delivery.
Connected objects and augmented reality facilitate many actions in the warehouse. For example, voice picking is a widely used method that consists for the operator to wear headphones and a microphone while proceeding the order preparation. He receives instructions and validate them aloud throughout the order preparation process. Fingertip scanners also free up the operator's hands to work faster and more comfortably.
Such technologies in warehouses are perfectly transposable in stores for order picking. They increase productivity and can even motivate operators since they are better equipped and work in better conditions.
Collaborative robots are already part of many steps in the supply chain of a product. These robots are designed to replace operators in tedious and repetitive tasks (moving bulky products, for example).
Tasks performed by the machines are precise and limit errors in the supply chain. They work without interruption and relieve the operator of complex or dangerous tasks.
By freeing up such tasks, the operator has more time to devote to conception or data analysis to improve the production process.
This is also a very effective method to think about in retail. When the salesperson selects the product he wants to reach, his device communicates not only the location of the product but also the best path to take in the aisles to reach it.
The salesperson's journey is simplified, sometimes shorter and ultimately less exhausting. Again, this affects the efficiency of the salesperson. And by carrying out optimized actions, intelligently thought out and therefore less tiring, he is necessarily more motivated.
To integrate such technologies in the retail sector, it is important to extract good data and to know how to analyze it. These analyses will allow you to know precisely which methods are adapted to your activity and save time on the testing phases.
Since customers are always demanding more precision and personalization in the way they buy, it is impossible to operate with old technologies and workflows that are not optimized. Having the right methods and knowing how to analyze your data to understand the changing customer demand is key.
Monstock is the complete inventory and flow management solution that gives you the best tools in retail to manage your points of sale, your customer journey, your inventory, purchases, orders, deliveries and returns.
Thanks to Monstock, guarantee a better customer satisfaction, a better production of your teams and orders sent without preparation errors.
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