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The Key to Store Fulfillment Success: Empowered Store Associates

By Manhattan Staff,
The Key to Store Fulfillment Success: Empowered Store Associates

The on-demand economy is changing the way consumers buy, making instant gratification and convenience a top consumer expectation. PWC estimates that the on-demand economy will reach a whopping $335 billion by 2025, as consumers require immediate fulfillment at their fingertips and businesses find unique ways to satisfy this need.

Fulfilling orders in retail stores is a by-product of this new economy. Customers enjoy picking up online purchases in local stores, which satisfies their insatiable demand for immediacy and flexibility. Further, ship from store is becoming more popular as a way to meet the increasing demand for fast delivery.

However, store fulfillment is a time-sensitive undertaking. If the same-day shipping or pickup windows aren’t met, customers end up dissatisfied – and it damages the brand. As the on-demand economy grows, stores must meet expectations for time-sensitive fulfillment and manage increasing volumes of store orders. That’s where store associates come in.

Unlike highly automated distribution centers, stores are difficult environments for time-sensitive fulfillment activities. And store associates are not experts with a singular task of managing order fulfillment. Teams need fulfillment management capabilities like their counterparts in distribution centers. Such tools will help associates rapidly and accurately find items in the store, pick them from the shelves or stockroom and prepare for fulfillment – all while managing multiple other store tasks. To succeed, retailers need to empower store associates to manage store fulfillment as efficiently and painlessly as possible.

This requires addressing three key challenges. Fortunately, Manhattan Associates also has three solutions. Here is how Manhattan Store Inventory and Fulfillment helps store teams excel in the new environment:

Challenge 1: Multitasking

Problem: Store associates are being pulled in multiple directions at once. Often, when they are trying to prepare an item for fulfillment, an in-store customer needs help. For example, a store associate might be printing a shipping label for an online order when a customer walks up to the register. The associate needs to be able to easily switch between these tasks, saving the shipping label and moving quickly to sales functions. Outdated store environments can complicate associates’ work and decrease productivity by requiring them to move between multiple applications with different user interfaces and procedures.

Solution: Manhattan Store Inventory and Fulfillment operates as part of Manhattan Point of Sale, helping users to simplify multitasking by seamlessly navigating among all store tasks. If a store associate stops one activity, he or she can navigate between store functions in one application without losing his or her place. And since the technology has the same responsive user experience, proficiency, speed and satisfaction increase.

Challenge 2: Finding Items

Problem: In the average retail store environment, items may end up in a plethora of locations. They may be in a specific area to support a promotion, shuffled to another section of the store by a customer or remain in the stockroom. There are also a variety of items that look alike. Many items, like lingerie, have only small details like lace or other trim to differentiate them. Naturally, that can create difficulty in trying to find items quickly to prepare for in-store pickup or shipment. 

Further, many people working in the stores are Millennial or Generation Z employees. These generations are digital natives, growing up with access to endless information at their fingertips and expecting to be connected to information for decision making. In many store environments, they’re given a basic pick list of items for fulfillment that isn’t supported by precise details like black bra, multicolored t-shirt, gold button earrings. There are SKUs provided, but the employee must rifle through the items to find the correct one. Clearly, this is not a recipe for success – especially with the growing volume of store orders and the increasing demands of same-day fulfillment.

Solution: Manhattan Store Inventory and Fulfillment excels at providing store associates with guidance to simplify and speed up location of inventory for fulfillment. The solution equips users with a visual guide to find items for picking, including multiple photos, accessible on their mobile devices. Associates can zoom in on the black bra and see that it’s the one with the correct lace detail. In seconds, they know exactly what they are looking for.

RFID-enabled stores make this process even more efficient. Manhattan Store Inventory and Fulfillment is built to use RFID data to help store associates find the precise location of items via a store map on their mobile devices. So they know the multi-colored shirt with a flamingo image, while it is normally found in the men’s department, is actually now on the display at the front of the store. Manhattan’s solution uses product and location data from the RFID tag to tell the user precisely where the item is, at any given time.

Challenge 3: No Room for Error

Problem: Customers have high expectations for their retail experience. If they order something online, they expect prompt, correct fulfillment. There is no room for error. But in the typical store environment, there are many potential pitfalls that can result in missed promises and damage to customer satisfaction. Consider a store associate manually inputting a 24-digit order number into an outdated user interface to prepare the order for shipping. The length of the code alone means it’s very easy to make a data entry mistake, particularly considering the hectic retail store environment.

In addition, the new, younger crop of store associates does not enjoy manual data entry. They grew up with automation and expect processes to work efficiently. Given their experience with consumer-facing apps – where they can scan in barcodes and instantaneously get information – they expect the same from the technology they use at work.  

Solution: By seamlessly using inventory and order data across the entire process, Manhattan Store Inventory and Fulfillment eliminates typical errors that can delay or hamper fulfillment. It validates picked items in real time to ensure associates pick the right items. Shipping labels are automatically generated with the appropriate order and shipping information, eliminating data re-keying. And customer validation at order pickup is executed seamlessly. 

As the demand economy grows, fulfilling orders in store is here to stay. Manhattan Store Inventory and Fulfillment optimizes processes, empowers store associates and ensures timeliness, precision and exceptional experiences.  

Enabling Technology, Empowered Associates, Exceptional Experiences

The time has come for retailers to equip their store teams with tools for guided management of end-to-end store fulfillment. Mobile tools, with familiar user interfaces that provide visual guidance, bolster store associates’ productivity and work accuracy. Manhattan Store Inventory and Fulfillment is designed with an outstanding user experience focused on improving how associates handle store order picking, staging, packing, shipping and customer pickup. It’s an application created specifically to overcome challenges, improve efficiency and ensure customers are always satisfied.

To learn more about Manhattan Store Inventory and Fulfillment, contact us today at +1 (877) 596-9208.

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