The backroom: A retailers front line

Take a walk down any busy UK high street today and you’ll see shoppers feverishly sifting through shelves and rails for the latest fast fashion items. In retail, every minute a product sits in the backroom is a minute sales aren’t being made. The majority of these sales are made within the first week and if shoppers find the latest merchandise at a competitors store before it reaches the retailers floor, they’ll show their approval at the cash till. With the rise of the convenience and immediacy of online shopping, it’s not just the retail shop floor that has become an increasingly competitive market. These apparel conscious shoppers also apply the same ‘rules’ when looking for fresh produce as they step inside their local supermarket.

chazSo what’s the solution? How can grocers prevent customers walking out of the door and going elsewhere because something isn’t on the shelf? To ensure that the freshest produce is available backroom efficiency is key. Grocers need to manage their inventory accurately and (where possible) at all stages. Perishable items such as fruit and veg will have a shorter shelf life than that of dried food (for example) however each will need to be readily available and potentially stored at different temperatures – especially when considering dairy products – before being replenished when the shop floor stock runs low. In order to help grocers keep on top of all of these fluid assets, could technology be the answer?

In the past, retailers knew when a product was sold out and when a product was paid in cash; however, they didn’t always know how many products were stored in the back room. Implementing mobile computers into the back and front store and automating the information gathering process of various fresh, dry and slow moving items makes inventory tracking, asset management and shelf stocking far more efficient. The stress of a paper trail is eliminated as product updates are received immediately, enabling the grocery managers to have a more rounded view of what is, or isn’t, available. Honeywell’s Dolphin™ 75e mobile computer lets managers know when a shipment is received and so items can move into the back store and then be restocked when required.

Although not as prominent in the grocery sector handheld scanners can be paired with tablets, like the Apple iPad or devices running Google Android, to provide quick and accurate bar coded real-time information on the backroom to customers in store, such as stock levels of a particular item.

As both retail and grocery managers come under increasing pressure from consumers to deliver faster and smoother in-store experiences investment in backroom technologies is key to keep on top of the ever changing model that is store replenishment.