This is a guest post from Michael Koploy, Analyst with SoftwareAdvice.com,
There’s an emerging trend among multi-channel retailers of fulfilling online orders with inventory from retail outlets, not distribution centers. While the practice was unheard of in years past, a number of merchants including Nordstrom, Toys R Us and Macy’s have begun to process online orders in stores.
This means that in addition to customer service and cashier duties, as well as keeping the display floor organized and tidy, retail associates will be tasked with finding items, packing them and preparing them for shipment to the online shopper’s address.
Retailers will need to deploy a number of technologies for this strategy to be successful. One of which, is to tag items at the store-level with radio frequency identification, or RFID, chips. Paired with RFID readers, store associates can then locate inventory instantly, even if its been moved by other associates or store customers.
However, an equally important technology solution that retailers must deploy is workforce management software. Management will have to accurately forecast labor needs and build schedules accordingly. In addition, management will have to train associates on how to fulfill orders, and ask that employees are always on-time due to their added responsibilities.
Here’s how workforce management software can help:
- Management can design optimized schedules that take into account the needs of the store, as well as associates’ proficiencies at finding, packing and shipping online orders.
- Attendance and absenteeism can closely be monitored and addressed if it becomes an issue with certain associates. The added task of fulfilling online orders will require employees to be on-time and to not miss a shift--as online orders may require items to be packed immediately before the shipping truck arrives.
- Employees will have to be trained to use RFID readers, manage alerts from the inventory system, how to properly print packing materials and prepare items for safe shipping. This training can be tracked in the workforce management system, and managers can always ensure that each shift has the right number of associates that have been properly trained.
An efficient labor force is key to fulfilling online orders from the store inventory, and workforce management technology is pivotal to retailers getting the most out of their associates.
Michael Koploy is an Analyst for SoftwareAdvice.com, an online website that reviews technology for retailers. He can be reached on Twitter for more info: @POSAdvice.