How to Avoid Out-of-Stock Issues During Major Disruptions
Out of stock situations are an inevitable part of retailing and a significant challenge, leading to almost $1 trillion in missed sales annually. The main causes of out of stock issues, such as human error, technical issues, and shrinkage, will always affect retailers to some degree. But the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these issues, making them even more of a problem for retailers today and requiring a more intelligent approach towards solving them.
COVID-19 has changed how customers shop in stores, whether it’s characterized by fewer trips to the store, or by using a grocery delivery service like Instacart. The pandemic has also shifted the demand for certain products and made it increasingly difficult to schedule enough labor to manage everything that needs to be done in the store. Stores are being hit with a number of new high-priority safety initiatives, which mean that other tasks, such as stocking shelves and managing inventory, are more likely to go incomplete.
Often during out of stock situations, the item in question is in the store but not on the shelf. As a result, these issues can be solved by understanding the underlying issues that lead to out of stock on the shelf:
- Are the items Out-of-Labor: Do I have enough store associates scheduled to restock shelves in a timely manner?
- Are the items Out-of-Information: Are my in-store systems notifying my store managers that there is an out of stock situation?
- Are the items Out-of-Task: Am I creating specific activities for store associates to restock shelves throughout the day?
- Are the items Out-of-Priority: Are my store associates properly prioritizing these restocking activities in relation to the other tasks they have to complete?
Streamlining key store operations processes is essential to avoiding critical out of stock issues and ensuring that your customers have a safe and effective shopping experience. Accomplishing this can be done by focusing on two key areas of your store operations: labor forecasting and scheduling, as well as store execution and communication.
1. Improve the Accuracy of Labor Forecasts and Schedules
One of the main reasons that critical tasks go incomplete in stores is labor forecasts inadequately predicting labor needs to cover customer traffic and demand. With an intelligent workforce management solution, you can account for key variables in your labor forecasting and scheduling, such as sales, traffic, seasonality, standard workload calculation rules, and special factors for disruptions such as pandemics. This not only makes it easier to increase scheduling efficiency and control labor costs, but also ensures that you can account for employee scheduling preferences, improving employee engagement, productivity, and retention.
With intelligent workforce management, you can ensure that you have enough store associates in stores to handle out of stock issues, as well as other critical tasks and activities.
2. Simplify Communication and Task Execution
Often, out of stock issues occur because store associates don’t know that an item is out of stock or aren’t directed to fix it. With real-time task management, store associates can be sent an alert on their mobile device when an item is out of stock, as well as a task so they know to follow up and fix it. Store managers can set a priority level for this task so store associates know to either complete it right away or work on more pressing issues first, such as executing safety initiatives. Managers also get immediate visibility into when tasks are completed. This solution also ensures that retailers are using their store associates efficiently; if one associate knows to manage an out of stock issue, other associates can be directed to work on other critical tasks instead.
By simplifying how you streamline and communicate tasks to your store associates, out of stock issues can be fixed easily, ensuring a larger basket size and higher customer satisfaction levels.
For more insight into how you can avoid out-of-stock issues, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set up time to chat.