Stock is the number one challenge facing retailers in their bricks-and-mortar stores estates, with both stock availability and replenishment capabilities hampering retailers’ efforts to drive efficiency and deliver customer experience in the store, the latest research from Pricer shows.
Original research of 100 UK retailers by Pricer, the world’s most trusted electronic shelf label (ESL) provider, showed that over a third (34%) of senior c-suite Operations Executives cited stock as the top issue causing inefficient operations in their store estates, followed by serving online orders through the store network (16%).
One in three (29%) said stock availability was pain-point, with shelf gaps proving a key challenge. Over half (52%) of UK retailers said up to 20% of their store inventory is unavailable at any given time on shelf, while a fifth (18%) said over 50% of their inventory wasn’t available on shelf at any given time in-store. Meanwhile, separate original research of over 2,000 UK shoppers in Pricer’s latest ‘UK Consumer Insight Report’, showed that six in ten (61%) shoppers currently experience out-of-stocks in-store.
And as the role of the bricks-and-mortar evolves, with the store now expected to play a greater part in digital – two fifths (39%) of the retailers polled felt that in the last 12months there has been more pressure put on the store to fulfil ecommerce orders – this is also impacting stock replenishment strategies. In response to the rising demand for ecommerce, 72% of retailers have increased replenishment through their store network, while 66% have changed their replenishment strategy for the store. A further 56% said they had implemented fast replenishment capabilities for the store to meet operational demands of fulfilling online orders from the store network.
And the challenge of efficient replenishment is being keenly felt by store associates; 52% of those polled by Pricer said being able to restock shelves in a timely manner was the top challenge in their everyday roles. Over a third (35%) said computer vision capabilities at the shelf-edge to alert them when items need replenishing would help them be more efficient in their roles, while 22% said they would benefit from pick-to-light technology, which flashes to alert the store staff which items comprise an online order picked from store.
Duncan Potter, CMO at Pricer, commented: “Stock availability – or lack thereof – and effective replenishment aren’t just a headache for retailers, we know they also are a great source of dissatisfaction for shoppers. Our research shows shelf gaps and unavailable stock not only creates poor customer experience (CX) at the shelf-edge, but also risks lost future sales in the long-term, eroding hard won customer loyalty.”
“As the number and type of store journeys grow, shopping baskets will be less predictable and that demands a more agile and nimble approach to assortment, allocation, replenishment and picking strategies,” Potter added. “This can be achieved by effectively digitalising the shelf-edge to cope with these new pressure points and ease bottlenecks, so shelves remain stocked and customers’ demands are upheld.”
Originally published in Retail Times on September 7, 2022.