Amid a growing shift to omnichannel retail, stores are becoming an integral part of the supply chain. That’s why Hardis Group developed Reflex In-Store Logistics, a logistics management system for retail outlets, remote stockrooms, urban hubs, and other local stock points. In this post, we look at the system’s many benefits, from real-time stock overviews and operational efficiency gains, to automated sales floor replenishments and happier customers. By Julien Lavagne, Product Manager, Reflex In-Store Logistics.
Knowing your customers + managing logistics: a winning formula for successful retail operations
As omnichannel services—click & collect, online reservation, drive-through collection, and more—experience rapid growth and customer expectations change, stores are having to rethink both how they sell and how they organize their operations. The heyday of customer knowledge and loyalty programs is long gone. Today’s customers demand a flawless service no matter what channel they use. Internally, meanwhile, processes operating in silos undermine efficiency. Why, for instance, would a store deliver a parcel shipped from the retailer’s warehouse when it could simply pick the products from its own stock?
After observing these trends and changing customer requirements, Hardis Group launched the Reflex In-Store Logistics project. Mirroring a startup model and with an emphasis on trial and error, the project was led by a mixed team of consultants and R&D specialists. The aim? To bring to market an application that meets the specific logistics management needs of retail outlets—from real-time stock overviews (outlet and stockroom) and real-time alerts of impending shelf stock-outs, to the ability to check stockroom availability without leaving customers waiting, suggested alternative products or availability in nearby stores, and optimized online order preparation processes.
The big idea behind Reflex In-Store Logistics was to develop a simple yet effective solution to the key challenges of physical outlets, i.e. improving customer service, achieving sales floor productivity gains, preparing orders (drive-through collection, click & collect and online) and, of course, boosting sales!
Testing the system on the ground and with customers: a proven approach
Several Hardis Group customers—both general and specialized retailers—agreed to take part in the project. Each had its own imperatives, from deploying a click & collect service, to setting up a remote stockroom or replacing an outdated back-office system. Involving customers in the pilot phase is a tried-and-tested Hardis Group approach designed to see how the application and its features cope with realities on the ground.
In this case, it quickly became apparent that the system’s success would hinge on two factors: speed of deployment and a short learning curve for users. That’s why, once the core model is set in stone, Reflex In-Store Logistics can be deployed in just five days—including integrating physical flows, connecting IT flows, configuring storage locations, and equipping staff with smartphones, which are cheaper and more practical than hand-held scanners.
A transparent, learning in-store logistics system
Customer feedback indicates that store staff can spend up to 40% of their time on logistics tasks. Reflex In-Store Logistics is designed to ease much of this workload while at the same time serving as a sales support tool by delivering efficiency gains both in logistics operations and in sales staff’s core duty, i.e. selling products to customers.
With Reflex In-Store Logistics, retailers can avoid overstock, improve on-shelf availability and, therefore, reduce the amount of stock they have to hold in store. The knock-on effects in terms of outlet cash flow and revenue are self-evident. The application supports granular management of stock locations, especially in the stockroom. These detailed insights overcome the traditional problems associated with macro stock management (i.e. without precise stockroom locations)—not least the loss of goods in stock, with its attendant financial implications: goods can quickly become unsellable (when they reach their expiration date) or have to be sold at heavy discounts (out-of-season items).
Last but not least, using big data techniques to analyze till receipts revealed that beer sales spiked when they were placed close to babies’ diapers. As a result, one retailer opted to display these two products side by side on the shelf. The data generated by Reflex In-Store Logistics can produce even deeper insights. In the past, these types of correlation could only be drawn retrospectively by analyzing sales data such as basket contents and time of purchase. Now, information about the location of goods and shelf stock-outs can be incorporated into these analyses, allowing retailers to adjust their merchandising and replenishment strategies in real time and, in doing so, drive up average spend.