Case study

Balance a multi-channel commerce operation through effective inventory management solutions

Mar 9, 2022 | Pallet Racking

Failing to meet customer expectations is the quickest and easiest way to disappoint and lose them, so as e-commerce continues to avert traditional commerce, pressure mounts for retail experts to become experts in e-fulfilment too.

For an existing bricks and mortar retailer, the integration of e-tail is the perfect opportunity to grow its customer base. The convenience of anytime, anywhere order placement has a growing appeal, however balancing this new formality of how products come into the possession of customers through the e-commerce transactions with in store transactions can be challenging. So, what practical solutions can be adopted to ensure both operations are effective?

Let’s begin with e-fulfimnent

For the exchange process to be successful in the online world the customer’s great confidence in the retailer to deliver must never be jeopardised and the weight of this burden lies heavily on the e-fulfilment process. Here is where the order details are received, the itemsare located, picked and then dispatched. This sounds pretty straightforward; however for those incorporating e-fulfilment into an existing retail operation for the first time, juggling both can feel a lot like a balancing act, so here is a few simple ways to help your online service live up to the expectations of your customers:

Choose an optimal layout

Whatever the size of the storage area, the key benefit to an optimal layout is that it saves a significant amount of time, particularly during the picking process.

To ensure the most powerful layout, inventory and departments such as goods-in, storage, packing and dispatch should be positioned to streamline processes. Creating an optimal layout based on navigational tactics, will help facilitate directional flow where by departmental activities are positioned in sequential order. This encourages a more streamlined process as inventory travels through the facility without the need to change direction. Illustrating the I, L, and U directional flow options, the diagram below shows how each works in accordance to the entry and exit points of inventory and this can be adopted in facilities of any size.

Inventory directional flow diagrams

Utilise your space

Space, large or small comes at a cost so why not utilise its full potential by making the space you pay for, work for you? You can do this through the implementation of storage solutions designed to match your storage needs whilst maximizing your space at the same time. Pallet racking for example, is available in many different formats with variations to how each can utilise space. Compact pallet racking configurations can be implemented to ensure the entire cubic area is maximized, whilst tall configurations are ideal for tall spaces with limited floor space. See the below diagram to visualize how these two formations are configured to maximise space.

Diagram Comparison - Compact Vs Standard

 

If usable floor space is a priority, this can be doubled or even tripled within the same surface area through a mezzanine floor and staircase installation so there’s no need to extend the footprint area of the facility and there’s no need for planning permission either making this a quicker and more cost-effective way to create much needed floor space. A storage mezzanine floor is an ideal solution as the pallets can be transported to and from the platform easily and safely by using a pallet gate, whilst lifts are also an option.

Support inventory

Manage your inventory in accordance to its speed, value, delicacy, quantity and shelf life through storage solutions that work to support your inventory needs. Delicate or high value items for example can be stored at height when using tall structures or within enclosed compact structures, keeping them out of easy reach. If stock rotation is a priority a system that operates by the First-in First-out method (FIFO) takes out the need for manual stock rotation to eliminate any complexities to the operation and simplify the picking process. Labour time can then be utilised elsewhere, whilst waste is limited resulting in increased profitability.

Diagram First in first out

Bricks and Mortar Retailing Solutions

The integration of e-commerce can be used to strengthen the overall perception of your business through an impeccable service both online and off-line. The physical store experience still has a very common touch and as society adopts the ‘learn to live with covid19’ approach, there’s much more aspiration for bricks and mortar retailing. As the foundation of the business, caution is required not to neglect the physical store whilst nurturing the new ecommerce element of the business and the retail mezzanine floor can help you do this.

The retail mezzanine

A mezzanine floor in a retail setting is a growing trend because it can help support your in-store operation in a number of ways:

Create additional floor space – and this is without the need for major construction works, so the store can remain open throughout installation which can be carried out during quiet periods, overnight or in a sectioned-off area. The additional floor space can be used to display more products, add a customer café or staff areas with WC’s. Whatever your intended use, the retail mezzanine floor is by far the most cost-effective route to more usable floor space within the same premises.

Improve the atmosphere – Yes, whilst introducing more floor space, a mezzanine floor can become a centric feature within the store. From basic structure to embellished, the mezzanine floor can be used to trigger curiosity with visiting customers following their instinct to explore the upper level. The possibilities are endless when it comes to choice in staircases, hand rails, edge protection, carpets, colour scheme, fixtures and fittings so you can create your very own desired look.

Increase sales: In short a mezzanine floor can influence how the customer feels whilst in the store as well as the length of time they spend in the store. An overcrowded, disorganised store can be off putting resulting in a short visit, however a well-organised open airy space will encourage longer browsing time as the customer feels comfortable and this can result in a sales.

Which practical solution would be most suited to your requirements?

At WSL, we understand the challenges growth and expansion can have on a business and it’s our belief that the opportunity to implement affordable and sustainable solutions to enhance prosperity during such trying times should be available to all businesses, and this includes yours.

So why not contact our expert team today to find out which practical solutions could assist your expanding operation?  We’ll start the process with a free site survey where you can spend time relaying your requirements to an expert ear. Information gathered from the survey visit will then be used to devise a bespoke solution which you will receive in the form of a plan, along with an on-budget quotation. Contact WSL today on 0113 2045350 or email sales@wslmail.co.uk

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