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Written by Retail Assist
Having sufficient stock levels is a vital component of any successful retail business, and is something rendered ever more important by changing consumer habits. Immediacy has become a dominant force in retail, and has significantly enhanced the need for stock to be available in the right place, at the right time. Using a retail allocation system is the best way to make retail allocation a more efficient process, in order to meet new and increasing demands.
Allocation is the initial process of distributing stock upon delivery from the supplier, through the warehouse, and to a retailer’s various locations.
Using retail allocation systems and software helps retailers adopt new approaches to stock. Data can be gathered, interpreted and analysed from shopper behaviour and habits, in order to get a more localised and specific idea of what sells well in different locations. The process is sometimes referred to as ‘localisation analytics’ and supports effective store grading. Items that may be big sellers in a certain location may not sell nearly as well in another. Recognising and monitoring this can ensure that stock is allocated to the location it is needed most, avoiding low or overstocking.
This also provides the opportunity for retailers to encourage sales by pushing stock of a similar type, or that a certain type of shopper may favour, to certain locations. Having a system that allows this information to be analysed for future forecasting is something retailers can profit from. Not only are retailers able to react to trends, they are even able to predict them. The power of data within retail allocation is significant.
The way in which a retailer deals with their pre-allocation is important to consider during initial stock intake. Pre-allocation refers to products that have been decided at the time of purchase order management, and has the advantage of reduced handling time at the distribution centre, thanks to an ‘in and out’ approach.
Using a retail allocation system which recognises and flags pre-allocated stock is highly beneficial in any retail allocation strategy. This removes the need for it to be subject to a put-away process, meaning that it can make its way to retail outlets much more quickly, fulfilling customer demand faster, and increasing sales potential. As well as improving relationships with customers, who are more likely to be satisfied, smoother-running warehouse IT systems thanks to pre-allocation can also mean that suppliers are kept happier.
Manual allocation is a useful secondary process, for example if there has been a smaller number of products delivered than anticipated, and another delivery needs to be allocated soon afterward.
Retail Assist’s retail allocation system within Merret also has the functionality to define and recognise allocation exclusions. This can be particularly useful for global retailers trading in lots of different countries: for example, do not allocate certain products to certain countries due to dress codes or product unsuitability.
If a retailer has a set number of sizes usually allocated to store, ‘allocation size ratios’ are a useful tool that can be pre-set, to ensure that the optimum range of sizes are received by stores.