In this episode of Retail Right Now, Total Retail's Joe Keenan and Kristina Stidham discuss an article recently published in Total Retail Report titled, “Why Flexible Fulfillment Options Are More Important Than Ever,” authored by Steve Osburn, managing director at Kurt Salmon, part of Accenture Strategy. COVID-19 has overwhelmed delivery and pickup networks as consumers are forced to shop online as many nonessential stores are closed. Many consumers and essential retailers that are still open are turning toward a hybrid version of online and brick-and-mortar shopping in the form of curbside pickup.

In his article, Osburn shares how retailers can unlock additional capacity for curbside and localized delivery going forward, including:

  • modifying store formats to support scalable curbside delivery operations;
  • offering on-demand pickup for essential items only;
  • managing customer arrival through step-by-step communication with customers throughout the process and empowering customers to alert you of their arrival, enabling lane assignment, order status, and expected wait/service time; and
  • encourage employees to bring their own device, that way workers are quickly able to take on new roles and improve pick-and-pack capabilities while reducing technology costs.

Osburn warns that while these hybrid order fulfillment programs allow for retailers to serve their customers with greater efficiency, many will still face challenges on the execution side, particularly when it comes to accurate inventory tracking. For flexible fulfillment options to work long term, retailers need to invest in real-time inventory and warehouse management systems in order to have visibility across all channels. To read the full article by Steve Osburn, click here.

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