If you are an apparel retailer, your team probably thinks that the term “floor ready” means your merchandise arrives at the store with industry approved labeling attached. It may also be pre-hung for display. As a hard goods retailer, you may not consider the notion of “floor ready” but it applies to you as well. Today’s retail customers expect merchandise to be properly located, easy to select and purchase – in order to satisfy their shopping needs. As a retailer, being “floor ready” should be one of your key goals.
One large retailer of both hard and soft merchandise calculated that, on average, 8 % of store-level labor cost was spent just preparing merchandise for the floor. This was exclusive of any sorting, movement to the floor, and recovery, which added another 2-3 % (depending upon the merchandise). Another 13 % was required in the stock replenishment function (from stockroom to the sales floor).
So how do savvy retailers cope with these challenges? Here are some examples:
- Preprinted bar code and pricing tags can be supplied to vendors for application in their lower cost environment.
- Requirements for carton labeling can boost productivity when all the information that will help a store receive, stock, or replenish the sales floor is provided. A vendor violation policy to back up the requirements adds credibility as well.
- Merchandise shipped with the appropriate quantities and size scales within packaging enhance store performance by reducing handling time.
- Advance notice of a major store delivery, either regularly scheduled or not, permit stores to schedule appropriate labor and equipment. To plan labor and equipment needs properly, it is necessary to have advance notice of how much and what type of merchandise is arriving.
- The policy of re-hanging prestige merchandise on wooden hangers can be stopped in favor of utilizing vendor supplied hangers.
Retailers depend on timely delivery both before and during promotional periods. Planning for these deliveries includes staging, preparing special space end caps, mass stacks, tables and racks and ensuring signage is available at the right time. The type of merchandise that arrives will create its own unique impact on the store. Replenishment, new, promotion, bulk, full case or piece-picked tote merchandise all affect the labor capacity of the store. Proper unloading equipment is necessary to maintain desired handling productivity. Trucks that have been hand-loaded require rollers or conveyors to unload in an effective manner.
RECEIVING, STAGING AND STOCKING CONSIDERATIONS
The receiving process may differ from retailer to retailer due to each retailer’s unique control requirements, ranging from assumed receipt to detailed check-in. Even in an assumed receipt situation, the truck may require accuracy sampling. DSD (direct store delivery) receipts may require detailed check-in unless the vendor has a proven track record of accuracy.
Once received, merchandise should be moved to the floor rapidly and displayed as planned. Replenishment items should be moved to their intended selling space rapidly. Totes should be efficiently distributed to the proper sales floor location, aisles, or zones in the store for put-away. Where ever possible, distribution center picking routines should be aligned with store layout – with similar aisle or zone merchandise packed together. Overstock merchandise should be placed in its assigned location, which may be top or bottom stock. Whenever possible, and when visually acceptable, bulk merchandise can create an effective display.
Overstock control is important in maintaining an in-stock position that permits the customer to locate desired merchandise. While backrooms should be organized in the same manner as the sales floor, this organization should also support the effective movement of merchandise to the retail floor. Top or bottom stock availability may be indicated to associates by placing a colorful spot label at the sales shelf location. The spot label should be dated, and indicate where the overstock location can be found for later re-stock. Do not forget to remove the label when the last overstock is moved to the shelf. Rotating stock to the shelves maintains freshness on the sales floor and the appearance of a full range of merchandise.
PRICING AND SIGNAGE CONSIDERATIONS
Depending on local statute and/or company policy, individual item pricing may need to be applied. Appropriate pricing materials, price books or price check equipment should be available and properly functioning to ensure customer satisfaction and appropriate compliance results. New items may have special requirements, such as unique signage, special location placement or even an updated plan-o-gram. Staging new items, ensuring proper pricing and creating an appealing display as part of an introductory promotion must all be handled correctly and will demonstrate your merchandising skill to the customer.
Being “floor ready” is challenging at best and often a daunting task in our busy retail world. It is, however, one of the differentiators that permit world class retailers to prosper and grow in challenging times. If you feel your merchandise flow could be made more effective, you should take the time and invest the capital to improve your processes and lower your overall operating costs. Those who have done so have received a significant return on their investment that will continue to pay dividends long into the future. If you feel you require assistance with this challenge we invite you to contact us to discuss how we may be able to assist your organization.