- Store managers now juggle order fulfillment, inventory visibility and staffing needs to satisfy customer demands, according to the latest JDA Voice of the Store Manager survey results.
- Order fulfillment and limited staffing tied as the biggest challenges for store managers, according 29% of the 2252 U.S.-based respondents. Inventory visibility was the next biggest challenge, due largely to inaccurate data, limited stock and slow replenishment.
- Technology is making a difference, however. At least 64% of managers are relying on technology in some capacity affecting inventory availability. Mobile or wearable devices are slightly more popular at 33% versus a central computer system at 31%.
Retailers are racing to keep up with the rising pace of e-commerce, and the burden is quickly falling on store managers.
"Store Managers in our survey believe that in-store fulfillment of customer orders presents the biggest challenge to store operations," James Prewitt, vice president of retail industry strategy at JDA Software told Supply Chain Dive. Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and ship-from-store services have each seen a significant increase in usage, according to more than 40% of respondents, but these services rely heavily upon inventory visibility and dedicated staff.
"Of those retailers in the survey that offered 'buy online pickup in store capabilities (41%), store managers cited data accuracy as a major issue, noting that inventory online is often different than in store, and visibility is lacking," said Prewitt. "A third of seasonal hires will help run buy online pick up in store operations, which highlights the importance that strategy will have this holiday season."
So what do these conditions mean for those in retail? Store managers may be at the front-lines of the changes in consumer habits, but they are not alone as they adapt to changing consumer habits. Each link in the retail supply chain — from executive strategy to the distribution center to the store and last-mile logistics — is shifting.
Retailers are by-and-large maintaining higher ratios of safety stock at distribution centers in order to keep up with rapid turn times as they labor to incorporate successful e-commerce strategies, even as e-commerce absorbs their traditional workforce in its quest for logistics success. Worker redistribution and the changing market is even affecting companies like UPS, as it watches its B2B deliveries wane while B2C grow.
The survey and recent events show the store will shift according to these changes. “In the future, we foresee some stores evolving into distribution centers, fulfilling 100% of customer demand, while others will morph into showrooms with centralized fulfillment,” Prewitt said in the press release.