For years, the back room was essentially a storage closet. Sure, you had a desk back there to do paperwork and make phone calls, and a table for employee breaks, but for the most part, retail back rooms are jumbled messes of extra inventory.
As “omni-channel” retailing rises and customers expect that even the smallest store will have an e-commerce operation, it's time to stop thinking of your back room as a closet and start thinking of it as a nerve center. And to do that, you'll need a boost from technology.
The good news is that upgrading your technology doesn't have to be time-consuming or expensive. Here are four ideas that will improve your retail backroom — and suggestions for how to put these strategies to work.
If you're not sure which of your SKUs are flying off the shelves, mobile can help you keep tabs on your inventory and analyze which items are most important to keep around.
Beyond that, customers’ needs and wants are changing daily. And the growth of online mega-retailers has led customers to expect flexibility, a wide range of inventory — and that they can have what they want right now.
Use mobile apps to track inventory (and know where it is in your store). Even the most basic of these apps are a huge step up from tracking inventory manually. According to “Retail Backrooms: A Revolution in Roles and Business Value,” by consulting firm Tompkins International, the back room has become a “mini distribution center,” where orders can be picked, packed, and shipped.
In addition, have a plan and schedule for stocking merchandise, and make sure all your associates share this job so that everyone's on the same page. You can track cleaning activities in your back room just as you track any other activity — think about using a mobile cleaning checklist to avoid extra paper.
In other words, if nobody's regularly looking at your store’s shelves to determine which items you're low on — and which you can replenish from the back without placing a new order — your store isn't operating as efficiently as it could. With a mobile inventory app, you can easily keep merchandise cycling and avoid having it languish on backroom shelves.
Whether you’re looking to turn your back room into a distribution center to accommodate online orders, or you just want to keep better tabs on stored inventory so you know which items are selling the fastest (and slowest) and when to re-order, technology can help. It's easy to get started injecting new technology into your retail operation. Give GoCanvas a try, free for 30 days and see how you can change your business by converting your paper checklists and forms to mobile.
If you're looking for inspiration on what kinds of retail forms and processes you can automate with GoCanvas, check out our collection of mobile form templates for retail, sales and wholesale distribution.