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Solving the Problem of Store Fulfilment

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By Published On: September 20, 20190 Comments

In a recent webinar hosted by Power Retail, eStar and Briscoe Group discussed the imperative nature of store fulfilment, and how to solve the problem from an ever-growing e-commerce industry. 

Cheap prices, social media marketing, click and collect – there are many strategies and developments that are happening within retail that’s exciting for all those involved. However, there are some aspects of the industry that sometimes go unrecognised, such as store fulfilment.

In Australia, the growth of E-Commerce plans to further develop from $28.6 billion to $35.2 billion by 2021. “When we look at the Australian market, we see that the growth trend is set to continue, just like the global graph prior. With retail growth rates in the low single digits, it’s clear that online shopping is going make up a greater proportion of business and hence the challenge of keeping stores relevant and managing online fulfilment is set to continue,” explained Dave Hughes, the GM e-Commerce at Briscoe Group in New Zealand.

The Challenge of Globalisation

While the thought of growth is fantastic in terms of revenue and profit, there are a few complications that can hinder a company’s expansion online – store fulfilment. “For Briscoes, there’s always focus on growing sales, and like other listed retailers meeting this challenge is getting harder as retail is globalised. You just have to love your customers. The retail market continues its rollercoaster ride up and down particularly in the current environment, where we’re seeing pressure on house pricing in both New Zealand and Australia – the likely effect is the knock on to perceived wealth and discretionary spending. This means we are all fighting over the dollars that are being spent,” explained Mr Hughes.

“Now, at this point, you would have to ask yourself, why would you continue with store fulfilment. My prior experience in pure-play was telling me that there definitely was an easier way, and we were going about it all wrong,” explained Matt Neale, the Chief Technology Officer at eStar. “What fascinated me about store fulfilment was the positive impact it had on the stores – fulfilment stores tended to outperform their peers as did the managers of these stores – they used fulfilment information to manage stock onto floor faster, manage flow in stockrooms and better manage their people between the two competing tasks.  I really want to emphasise store fulfilment creating stronger, more capable people. I also think store fulfilment keeps stores relevant – putting click and collect into a fulfilment store was relatively simple as our people were trained and ready to go. We are now rolling out click and collect to non-fulfilment sites, and our fulfilment gives us a solid template to work from.”

Is Tech Just a Tool?

“It’s all well and good writing a bunch of code to implement an idea conceived around a whiteboard, but after all, the tech is just a tool. It’s a tool that people use, to get things done in the real world. And these things [stores] have real-world problems that don’t go away (Mainly stock – it moves and sometimes disappears, and sometimes, it’s not where you need it to be), so no matter how smart your developers are, or think they are, we needed to really understand the environment in which we were playing. So we went in-store, and we took a bunch of our devs, and these guys took them through the process, and we were able to take some of that and apply it back,” explained Mr Neale.

“All of these things seem obvious – but the key to it is the outcomes it creates. We wanted to make our stock available from a number of sites – that way we could reduce the load on any individual stores – in our first version of routing we were assigning orders to stores, however when a store had a failure and couldn’t keep up this would knock on to the rest of the network.”

Where To From Here?

Store fulfilment acts as a benefit for both the retailer and the customer. With excellent customer feedback comes a better customer experience, something that ties in with further business growth. “As you improve one area, and take a rock out of the flow – you see the next one, and the next… And that’s where we’re at – removing rocks that impeded flow,” said Mr Neale. “We’re chasing incremental; we’re working on those quality of life improvements in the tool. And what we’ve got out of it is something that’s truly world-leading; Briscoe’s results are one thing, and as Dave said at the start, they’ve thrown the ball a long way, they’ve got the scale they need to start looking at other areas of their business. This is not a constraint. We’ve since rolled our Advanced Routing solution to a number of other customers, with impressive results – and what’s been great to see is that as we’ve encountered more of those ‘real world’ problems – franchises, order quota management, boutique stores – that the architecture we started with has not been compromised.”

“We’ve had recognition as a finalist in the NZ Hi-Tech awards, up against some truly amazing competition. We’ve been had Gartner chasing to include us in their order management vendor guide, and we’ve had interest from our E-commerce competitors in integrating to. Which is a real testament to the success it can help with. Our Advanced Routing is available independently of our E-commerce platform. It has full headless API coverage, as well as the management and user interfaces.”

If you’re interested in learning how they solved the problem with store fulfilment, listen to the full webinar below.

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