A customer in need. The retailer must have count on all the items in the back room and especially on the shop floor. Having knowledge about the exact locations of your items on the shop floor is the key in making the next sale.
I have come to understand that the journey of a garment is only
counting, counting and counting. First, when leaving the point of
manufacture someone has to pack the garments into boxes and count
that all required items go inside the box. Then, the truck driver
counts the boxes entering the truck. The next one counting is the
lady at the delivery center opening the boxes, picking the items
and repacking them into boxes based on the orders of the retailer.
When the delivery arrives to the retail shop, the sales assistants
only need to unpack the garments and count them. They count the
items going to the shop floor and the items remaining in the back
room. In addition to all this mentioned above, the logistics chain
may include more delivery centers and transporting, which lengthens
the garment journey and causes more counting, counting and
counting. How many times has the item been counted during its
journey? Really, in the retail supply chain, all you do is
Have you ever thought about how much time the personnel in
apparel (or in any other) retail stores spend time counting the
items? Ordered items, arrived items, items on the shop floor and in
the backroom, bought items, lost items. The list never ends! I bet
the sales assistants have something else to do than counting items.
They really should concentrate on selling: helping us, the
customers, who are desperately trying to figure out what colored
shirt matches the must-have skirt in the window. And despite of all
the counting, usually when asking for my size of a piece of
garment, it takes a long time for the sales assistants to look for
it or they end up telling me they haven't found it, even though it
should be "here somewhere". This is usually the result of a human
mistake in inventories: if you have to count 15 size M shirts and
20 size L shirts, the process does not necessarily lead to correct
stock values if, for example, the items are misplaced or if there
are two types of shirts in the same pile, all size M and L. Taking
inventory is not as easy as it sounds. Another factor leading to
inaccurate stock values are the deliveries arriving in a hurry.
There is no space for the arrived items neither in the back room
nor on the shop floor. What does a sales assistant do in this kind
of a situation? She (or he) quickly pushes the roll cages into the
back room to avoid being corrected by her supervisor or unpacks the
delivery fast in the back room and stuffs the items into any tiny
free space she can possibly find.
Last week I went to a store that sells apparel and shoes. I
asked whether new collections of my favorite brand had arrived yet.
The sales assistant answered that the new collections had arrived
but they were still in the back room and would be on the shop floor
in a few days. In a few days? I really needed a pair of shoes on
that day. Finally, I went to another shop, found a nice pair of
loafers and purchased them for a fairly higher price than the ones
of my favorite brand would have cost.
The shoe shopping experience really made me wonder what kind of
a system the first store I entered had, and really made me see the
possibilities they would gain with RFID. When human mistakes are
removed in the counting process, the arriving delivery is accurate.
Or if it isn't, it can be checked with a handheld RFID reader in a
fraction of the time that a manual count would take. The whole
supply chain could be speeded up and this would result in more
transparency. With transparency, the retail shops would be updated
about the estimated arrival and content of their deliveries.
Therefore, the space for the new items, both in the back room and
on the s floor, could be organized beforehand and the new items
would be accessible to the customers the same day they arrive to
the shop. This is truly something every customer would value. And
not to mention the easiness in taking inventories.
However, the next one counting the items is me, the consumer,
trying to convince myself that I do NOT own too many t-shirts…