The quality of storage areas and equipment reflects a shop’s level of organisation. It’s easy to neglect ‘out of sight, out of mind’ storage spaces, but cutting corners only nudges the problem a little way down the road before your store ends up losing stock and staff waste time searching for items.
Retailers should consider these three areas to get their stores working smoothly.
Implement maintenance procedures
Storage areas are just as important as the shop floor – they hold your most valuable assets. Effective maintenance minimises two key issues:
- Stock loss
- Injury to customers and staff
Many retailers store their stock on the shop floor, waiting to be shelved to make replenishment easier during the day, though it can be a risk to customers and staff particularly if poorly stored. Policies and procedures can impact maintenance procedures for both storage areas and equipment for retailers with a mix of shop layouts and goods for sale.
Stores should develop policies and schedules to manage their storage areas and equipment and maintain these standards to ensure their stock, staff, and customers are kept safe. These policies could specify:
- Access to and accountability for storage areas
- Receiving area security
- Safeguard of keys
- Documentation of storage area
- Use of storage area equipment
- Handling of storage related waste
Maintain quality of stock storage areas
Little day to day changes accumulate over time but go easily unnoticed, particularly in areas that aren’t customer-facing. Relaxing standards around storage can cause expensive and painful consequences if stock is damaged or staff are injured.
Head office often notices a slip in standards that isn’t immediately apparent to staff, so it’s worth conducting an audit while imaging yourself to be in the position of a head office employee. Ask yourself a few of the following questions to get an objective view:
- Are there any storage areas in view on the shop floor that could impact the shopping experience?
- Who is responsible for these areas?
- Where is stock kept back of house?
- Is the storage method suitable for stock and adequate for the volume being stored?
- Is there stock on the floor and are walkways and doorways clear?
- Is stock stored in a way that minimises workplace health and safety risks?
- Is signage clear and accurate to identify specific stock locations?
- Is there a specified area for damaged stock that is being returned to head office / suppliers?
- Is a FIFO (First-In-First-Out) system in use?
Visit a competitor as a customer to get a feel for what to do, or what not to do in your own store. Look for dangers and risks and pay attention to your own reaction as a customer. It’s often surprising to realise the impact of operations-friendly storage methods that aren’t customer-friendly, and it’s important to find a happy medium to avoid losing shoppers.
Ensure effectiveness and safety of equipment
Shops use plenty of equipment to lift, transport, house and protect products before they are put up for sale. While some equipment, such as shelving, is consistent across the shop floor and back-of-house, there is plenty of variety in other equipment needs.
Larger businesses might use warehousing arrangements and use forklifts, trucks and heavy-duty shelving, while others might use temperature-controlled or secure storage facilities. Stores should develop an approach that is suitable to their needs and check their equipment is fit for purpose and safe in order to avoid damaged goods or injury to staff and customers.
It is vital establish training, licensing and legislative requirements for equipment used to move stock such as forklifts and reach trucks. The onus is on retailers to ensure workplace health and safety obligations are met according to their specific guidelines.
Get these areas of your store in check, and you can be confident that your stock and your time won’t be wasted. Not only will you create an environment that is safe for customers and staff, but your store will benefit from having developed a customer-friendly experience.
The ARA Retail Institute runs multiple workshops on inventory control and stock management. Click on the link below to explore our upcoming courses and events.
About ARA Retail Institute
ARA Retail Institute is Australia’s leading retail training provider for both accredited and non-accredited learning programs. For more information, please visit: www.retailinstitute.org.au