While omnichannel retail has created multiple sales opportunities for retailers, it has created havoc in their stores and upstream supply chains. Challenged with enormous e-commerce purchasing volumes, retailers are looking at how they can effectively manage the picking of e-commerce orders to truly provide the ‘buy anywhere, fulfill anywhere, and return anywhere’ experience. Find out how one software vendor is helping retailers address this challenge.
During the recent National Retail Federation (NRF) Convention and Expo, JDA Software showcased its ability to help retailers master several key tenets of retail in the era of synchronous shopping, including several innovations that leverage capabilities from both former JDA and RedPrairie to streamline and optimize store operations and distribution processes.
As retailers’ most precious currency is their reputation, they must optimize the flow of commerce, from the distribution center (DC) to the store and ultimately to the consumer. They need to do this by linking shopping, browsing, sourcing, and fulfillment strategies to capture every sale while simultaneously lowering the cost of inventory. Success also requires mobilizing the workforce by providing the right tools to deliver real-time customer data, inventory visibility, and pricing transparency to better serve the customer.
Since merging with RedPrairie in late 2012, JDA has been focused on bringing together the product portfolios of these two companies in the following five key areas, helping retailers thrive in the era of synchronous shopping:
1. Unified customer engagement (across multiple channels)
2. Adaptive, consumer-centric offers
3. Flexible and real-time responsive supply chain
4. Profitable distributed order management (DOM)
5. Enterprise-wide demand shaping and forecasting
By mastering these five tenets, retailers could once again take control of their brand narrative and consistently orchestrate a profitable multi-dimensional brand experience throughout the shopping journey. While control of the shopping journey has shifted to the consumer, retailers can still control the integrity of their brands—from product selection, quality, and availability to delivery of every order to every customer on time—by anticipating customer desires, shortening the time to market, optimizing every interaction, and streamlining the entire order life cycle.
Under the “Retail In Sync” tagline, JDA showcased its solutions in the realm of supply chain management (SCM), merchandising, and in-store workforce and material management. The vendor has a point-of-sale (POS) software offering, but it is not considering it as a strategic differentiator, given its commoditized status and abundance of POS solutions on the market. On the other hand, the vendor is currently deciding on a partnership for a market-leading e-commerce offering.
Blessing and Curse of Omnichannel Retail
While the omnichannel retail paradigm has created multiple sales opportunities for retailers, it has created havoc in their stores and upstream supply chains. Challenged with enormous e-commerce purchasing volumes, grocery, hardlines, and apparel/fashion (softlines) retailers are looking at how they can effectively manage the picking of e-commerce orders to truly provide the ‘buy anywhere, fulfill anywhere, and return anywhere’ capabilities that their customers are asking for.
In the upstream supply chain, the main challenge is that most warehousing and DC facilities are not set up to handle the different types of orders—such as pallets vs. cases vs. each (individual item) picking—with the associated automation, shipment options, packing, labeling, etc. There are several tricky issues in retail stores too. One is allocation—if you have online orders to pick and the picker goes to the front of the store and there are none because in-store shoppers have already grabbed them, what do you do? Substitution might work in grocery (see figure 1), but perhaps not in apparel. Do you allocate certain amounts for in-store shoppers that pickers cannot touch? This tactic probably works for canned goods, but how about fresh items that could spoil if not sold? Or do you perhaps do your picking after hours to avoid conflict with in-store shoppers?
For grocers, another issue is where to store picked orders until they are either picked up or delivered. If there is a mixture of dry goods, refrigerated, and frozen, how do you pick and store these properly, but bring them together to complete the order, especially for in-store pick-up? Do you allocate precious front-of-store selling space for storage so they can be easily and quickly ready for customers to pick up? Another issue is tying your order picking into delivery. Whether you use couriers or a fleet for delivery, how should one coordinate picking, storage, and routing for maximum efficiency?
JDA In-Store Picking
JDA Software recently announced the generally available release date for JDAIn-Store Picking, a solution designed to enable retailers to more accurately and efficiently pick e-commerce orders in a store (in-store)! This is a significantly enhanced version of the RangeGate product that former RedPrairie acquired in 2005 in the UK—i.e., the product has received a multitude of enhancements post-acquisition. It is based on the JDA Dispatcher WMS product, but will eventually be migrated to the flagship JDA Warehouse Management product as part of the company’s convergence strategy.
JDA In-Store Picking accepts orders from order management systems and then allocates and clusters them to make efficient use of both store space and time when picking and processing e-commerce orders. It is a comprehensive in-store picking application that works for front-of-store, back-room, and dark-store scenarios. Customers so far have primarily been in the UK.
For grocers, the picker may choose either voice activation or browser-based devices (see figure 2) to pick products for packaging on carts and for those carts to be marshaled into staging areas before being loaded for home delivery, “click-and-collect” store areas, or for “drive-through” models as used in mainland Europe. The pickers are sent to the shop floor to pick at an appropriate time to minimize the disruption for customers in the store—and be on time for the home delivery dispatch or the promised click-and-collect time. The solution also provides different substitution strategies depending on the retailer’s brand promise, and generates customer-ready paperwork before sending the picked items electronically to the POS system.
For hardline retailers, the system not only delivers an effective pick operation similar to that for grocers, but also processes customers’ e-commerce orders that may have been picked in another store or DC and are to be picked up in-store. This enables hardline retailers to consider reduced stock holding across their entire store and DC footprint, rather than increasing safety stock in-store to allow for e-commerce allocation. For apparel/fashion retailers, products to be picked are not often where they should be. The in-store picking solution can direct the picker to the locations where the products are likely to be, as well as support shipment direct from the store with value-added services and packing functionality.
Where grocers have dark stores, the picking solution maximizes throughput and pick rates, as there are no customers in the store. For dark stores, this solution manages the receiving, shelf fill, and refill operations, and tracks every product movement, enabling stock counting, shelf replenishment, and shelf-life management to ensure that it is offering the freshest products for home delivery. The dark-store solution also connects to automated systems, such as mini-loaders, to transport the filled packages around to the marshaling areas.
JDA’s in-store picking solution can offer retailers higher levels of benefits when working in conjunction with other complementary retail solutions, such as JDA Workforce Management, JDA Mobile Shift Connect, and JDA Task Management. See figures 3 to 8 on the next page for illustration of the product’s other multiple capabilities. From an overview of all in-store picking orders and each order’s individual lines (figure 5), figure 3 and 4 show the task planning level, and figures 6 and 7 show task execution. Figure 8 illustrates possible dashboards for store managers and supervisors.