Key to improving inventory management is meeting your inventory where it lives on the shelves. This is achieved through mobile computing enabled by inventory management software, wireless networks, mobile hardware, and sound processes. The cost of computing and wireless networking have fallen to the point that retailers of all sizes are capable of deploying mobile inventory management solutions. Vendors of mobile computing solutions such as Motorola and Zebra are focused on delivering inventory management solutions to the retail industry on the convenient form factor of a handheld computer. Scanning; ticketing, shelf labeling, and item labeling (which are three of a retailer’s few constant and controllable customer interfaces); price auditing; markdowns; and promotion execution are but some of the inventory management applications retailers can run more efficiently using mobile technology driven by modern software solutions. Aisle level shelf labeling, for instance, has consistently reduced store relabeling time 40% among retailers deploying the technology. Driven by merchandising software, mobility enables the labeling and relabeling process, whether it involves tickets, shelves, or items, to be as simple as a scan of the SKU’s UPC with a scanner-enabled handheld. This is followed by the automatic printout of the correct label or ticket on a portable printer, and application of that label or ticket to the item or shelf. The reduced cost and time spent on inventory management that’s enabled by mobile scanning, labeling, and ticketing saves margins and has a ripple effect by enabling more frequent and creative pricing and promotion initiatives.
In terms of process, the flexibility enabled by mobility is important as well. Because pricing and promotion changes can now happen so quickly, retailers can combine applications like price auditing, markdowns, clearance, and relabeling. For example, as an item is scanned for price auditing against the central store system, the system beeps if a new price applies to the item. Simultaneously, a new label or ticket is printed for application. Mobility speeds the time it takes to implement price changes by up to 50%.
“Store execution practices can also ensure that orders are automatically placed without associate intervention, with training regarding the ordering practices for new associates shortened,” says AMR’s Griswold. He also says supply chain leaders recognize the link between this kind of execution and merchandise planning. “Consumercentric merchandising integrates demand, assortment, allocation, space management, pricing, and promotional planning processes, allowing retailers to align product and promotional decisions with store-specific consumer demand signals,” he says. “Organizationally, retailers must move merchandising and marketing functions from traditional, vendor-driven events to more collaborative and consumer-driven strategies.”
- From Zebra Technologies