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Barcode Order Entry Retail

3 Things to Look for in a Retail Barcode Solution

Barcodes are a fundamental part of retail automation solutions. Advanced retail operations use barcodes to guide and document nearly every operation, from initial packaging and shipping, through supply chain management, delivery, in-store inventory placement, and the point-of-sale transaction.

Mobile computing and data capture solutions (including barcodes) provide retail companies with better visibility and control over inventory and stock levels, improved employee productivity, and a better overall customer experience. However, not all retail barcode solutions are created equal. Here are three things to look for in a barcode system:

1. Intelligent Order Entry

This functionality is important both for suppliers that have field sales representatives visiting retail clients, and for retailers who are able to place replenishment orders from the sales floor. Field sales personnel need a real-time view of customer and product information to do their jobs effectively. Phoning and faxing orders from the road is inefficient and can lead to errors, delays, and lost sales opportunities.

An intelligent order entry solution eliminates “blind ordering” from the field by enabling two-way communication between the sales team and your enterprise systems. As orders are sent in from customer sites, product, customer and pricing information can be updated on their mobile computers.

For retailers, using mobile computers to place new orders based on in-store inventory scans can result in more accurate and timely replenishment and fewer out-of-stocks.

2. Inventory Management

The key to having the right item on the shelf at the right time is through effective inventory management. Automatic data collection solutions (such as barcodes and RFID), combined with wireless networks, can help manage the inventory flow from the receiving area to the stock room, and even to the shelf.

Nearly every level of packaging includes a barcode, so retailers can use the technology to maintain tight and accurate control over inventory. At the warehouse, every pallet, case, and unit-level item can be scanned as they enter and exit the facility, providing an accurate shipping record.

When goods arrive at the retail location, store staff can scan the products as they enter the stock room or when they go on the shelf. These records can then be compared with point-of-sale scans at the register to maintain highly accurate inventory data.

Having all of these scans linked to an online portal can provide every stakeholder with updated shipment status and sales data. Scan data can also be used to generate automatic replenishment orders and maintain a continuous inventory record.

3. Leading Edge Data Collection and Mobility

Mobile computers and tablets are playing a lager role in retail operations as well. In the field, sales staff can use handheld computers to scan on-shelf inventory, accept customer signatures, process payments, and send orders directly to the back-end enterprise solution.

At a retail store, mobile associate solutions can improve stock management by allowing staff to use barcodes for inventory and for price checks. Associates can also use their mobile computers to check backroom stock for customers, order merchandise from a supplier or initiate a transfer from another store location.

Many retailers have also leveraged tablet technology to rapidly increase their checkout capacity during peak times/seasons by providing the ability for associates to accept payments on the sales floor. These line-busting applications can be rapidly scaled up or down to meet demand.

Barcoding technology can deliver higher same-store sales, fewer out-of-stocks, and increased inventory turnover, while also providing long-term efficiencies for retailers. When selecting a retail barcode solution, make sure to carefully evaluate all of the features and functions, and find a solution that will help take your retail operations to the next level.

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Order Entry Retail

Retailers Can Maximize Profits with an Intelligent Order Entry System

Handheld computers have been essential to the retail industry for years because they offer an efficient means of transporting remote orders from the field.  Inventory strategies that utilize mobile computers have been proven – time and time again – to produce a better return on investment for businesses by minimizing in-process inventory and eliminating other costs.

The use of handheld computers is now an industry standard, but, even though they increase cost savings, there is still room for improvement.  In order for retailers to maximize their profits, they need to begin by adding intelligence to their aging order entry systems.

One of the biggest challenges retailers face is the task of eliminating lost items from orders.  For many businesses, product catalogs change frequently and vendors have shifts in the items they carry, so antiquated/legacy handheld computers cannot always be depended on to verify barcodes.  Many older handhelds use digit and length checks to ensure that items are entered correctly, but they cannot ensure that items are current products or are being carried in the inventory.  Older handheld technology is limited by slower processing power and unimpressive storage capabilities.  As more and more products receive barcodes, the problem only gets worse.

Issues also occur on retail store shelves.  Moving items to make room for products that just arrived or creating displays with items that are on sale can result in a shelf’s tag not accurately reflecting the shelf’s contents.  If an employee scans a shelf’s tag without verifying what is on it, the wrong product could end up being ordered.  Incorrect or unnecessary orders damage profits and can even cause a business to lose customers.  Taking the time to verify a shelf’s product is a smarter move, but this process is more time consuming and slows down efficiency.

Mistakes/errors like these typically impact revenue enough to account for a loss of 3% to 7% of total sales.  Constantly losing revenue is a recipe for disaster, and this unproductive process can even cause retailers to lose customers.  In order to overcome these challenges, retailers need to invest in newer handhelds that utilize an intelligent order entry system.   Handheld computers compatible with intelligent order entry systems empower remote workers to easily and quickly access real-time information, so processes are streamlined and orders are accurate.  For retailers that employ handheld computers, up-to-date and instantaneous information greatly increase efficiency and productivity.

Newer handheld computers allow workers to enter data in a variety of ways, including scanning, keypad entry, and touchscreens – whichever is quickest for the application at hand. An order entry system also allows two-way communication for field workers, meaning that customer and pricing information is updated on the handhelds as soon as orders are sent in; faxing or phoning in orders is no longer needed.  Intelligent order entry eliminates manual steps for workers, improving efficiency, reducing paperwork, and minimizing the chance of human error.

Technology is constantly changing the retail landscape. Businesses that react appropriately to these changes are the ones that are most likely to not only survive, but thrive.  Losing 3% to 7% of sales because of inefficient processes and technology should never be an option.  An intelligent order entry system allows businesses to reduce lost sales, improve profitability, and gain a competitive edge over competitors.