Global industries are facing unforeseen challenges due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While governments work to contain the impact of the virus on businesses, it’s fair to say that most supply chains will endure challenges for the foreseeable future. While many face disruptions in their business, industries like eCommerce have reported sizable spikes in demand. As retail stores limit their opening hours, some closing altogether, home-bound consumers are turning to the internet to purchase their goods.
E-Retailers Must Adapt During Lockdown
Worldwide, eCommerce supply chain leaders have been forced to quickly adapt their processes to manage the sudden uplift in orders. The latest data shows that year-over-year, online transactions are up by 37% in the USA and as high as 200% in parts of Europe. Some businesses are turning to solutions such as queue management systems to handle website traffic. Industry giant Amazon reports hiring 75,000 staff to meet demand.
But while having more hands on deck may be helpful, it certainly isn't the only strategy to consider. Many retail customers are increasing their focus on automating their processes to help meet demand.
“Business is very busy - we have increased our workforce by 3 times and just bought 20 new scanners. RF-SMART has been great to enable us to be so flexible to expand quickly.” - PetShop.co.uk (Featured in the above BBC Midlands Today clip and also in TheBusinessDesk.com)
How Automation Helps You Meet Demand Challenges
As evident with PetShop.co.uk, automated process can swiftly enhance business activities during spiked periods. Here are three areas where a mobile retail inventory management solution can provide measurable improvements:
Free Up Cash Flow - Businesses with poor inventory visibility usually possess a greater amount of obsolete stock. This can be in the form of expired goods, duplicate goods, or misplaced items. It’s hard to meet demand when you already lack efficiency.
PetShop.co.uk overcame these challenges by barcoding all of their inventory, then storing it in defined locations. They halved the amount of obsolete stock they once had, freeing up a large chunk of their cash flow and increasing the value of their balance sheet by 20%.
Reduce Manual Processes - Manual data entry is error-prone and unnecessarily time-consuming during periods of high demand. By leveraging mobile inventory technology, workers can scan inventory as they go, updating information into your ERP in real-time. Once you switch to mobile, you’ll quickly gain a more productive workforce that’s capable of fulfilling far more orders.
What’s more, mobile helps you minimize contact from paper handling to help meet growing health and safety requirements. Paper pick slips often pass through multiple hands during an order cycle, increasing the risk of contagion. By assigning handheld devices to set users, who then scan barcodes from a distance, you mitigate this risk significantly.
Faster Order Fulfillment - A mobile inventory solution will quickly give you greater inventory accuracy. This means workers will always know what stock is on hand, and where it’s located; your team will now be able to fulfill orders much faster.
Before implementing RF-SMART, Skin Script was struggling with their picking efficiency; they were completing a maximum of 250 picks per day. After optimizing their warehouse layout and adopting streamlined mobile picking, the business doubled their number of picks. Skin Script’s orders are now shipped faster and more accurately than before, greatly improving their customer satisfaction.