Faced with increasing competition and the emergence of new channels, it’s vital for retailers to ensure their store operations are as efficient, customer-focused, consistent and secure as possible. However, achieving this level of operational excellence is no easy feat; retailers must find exactly the right mix of tools—both in-store and at the corporate level—to provide real-time visibility into store operations, allowing them to automate routine tasks and aid in effective decision-making.
In the past, visibility within grocery has been limited to point-of-sale data, staff scheduling, and inventory updates. Nowadays, however, thanks to a rise in technologies that allow retailers to gain a clearer snapshot of their business, this level of detail has become much more granular.
So what exactly does full visibility into store operations look like from a retailer’s perspective? And, what’s more, how can it be used to help optimally fulfill demand and enhance profitability within a grocery business?
Let’s take a closer look.
1. Visibility Allows for Closer Monitoring of Inventory and Service Levels
Visibility benefits both retailers and their customers in myriad ways. For example, visibility into inventory levels means that if a product is out of stock, both employees and customers are able to obtain information about the estimated time of arrival. Better yet, thanks to product availability and movement information that is up to date, out-of-stocks will be reduced significantly, assuring that customers get what they came for.
2. More Efficient Use of In-Store Resources
Ensuring you have the right amount of food preparation staff based on demand—while meeting budget targets and complying with labor laws—is a difficult job if done manually or with old-fashioned tools. Modern technologies help address these challenges by ensuring that in-store resources are allocated in the most efficient way possible, and in accordance with current task requirements.
3. Open Communication Between Head Office and Stores
This is an important factor when it comes to corporate initiatives for promotions, pricing and brand experience. However, in this day and age, traditional modes of communication like phone calls, emails and faxes simply aren’t enough. Store managers and head office personnel require a structured and automated approach that prioritizes tasks and provides detailed instructions, as well as a means of verifying completion and transmitting feedback.
4. A “Single Version of the Truth”
When it comes to grocery eCommerce, the ability to analyze site performance at aggregate levels is critical to improving service and reducing costs. It requires integration with multiple data sources to acquire timely, meaningful information that can be presented on dashboards and graphical displays tailored to each individual user. With greater visibility into all systems, data can be easily synchronized and transformed into actionable business intelligence that can be leveraged to improve operations and customer experience.
5. Intervention Made Easy
Visibility also allows intervention at the store level when required. For example, if a particular order is delayed, visibility into store operations allows managers to intervene by allocating more resources to that order. Alternatively, if an associate has a low success rate for substituting products, visibility enables a retailer to intervene by providing more training in that area. Lastly, visibility allows an assessment of the efficiency of a store’s pick strategy. Instead of doing single-order picks, for instance, a store could use multi-order (or wave) picks for greater efficiency.
Conclusion: A Worthwhile Investment
When a grocery business is viewed as a single, unified system, its underlying core processes become clear. By managing and improving these processes as components of an integrated system, retailers can make significant improvements to critical success factors, such as lead-time requirements and the exact availability of stock when required throughout the supply chain.
Perhaps most importantly, greater visibility into operations can also help control costs—something that is of critical importance for grocers. Wasted time and resources can represent a significant cost, and it’s one that retailers simply cannot afford.
To learn more about how visibility can help drive profitability for your business, download our white paper, as featured in Progressive Grocer: "Investing in Visibility: How Grocers are Gaining Deeper Insights and Driving Operational Success".