Flexible workstations improve retailer’s operations

The workstations helped the retailer successfully pivot to e-commerce.

  By ·

Thirty years ago, a nationwide home accessories and furniture retailer wanted to improve processes for registry items. These items are a major source of revenue for the business, but they knew the customer experience could be improved. Many of their customers would inquire about shipping, intending to bring items to out-of-town weddings. As a result, the retailer wanted to send a purchased item to a different store for pick-up, which would save their customers time, money and logistical headaches.

At the time, however, shipping between stores was a relatively new concept and inventory sharing was still in its infancy. Brick-and-mortar retailers generally didn’t have the proper equipment.

They turned to a supplier that helped the retailer convert its stores into multi-use spaces—with its physical retail locations functioning as warehouses and distribution centers, as well as places of purchase. Since the product mix varied in weight and size (posing a unique challenge), the supplier provided efficient inventory storage and packing solutions for items as big as tables and as fragile as champagne flutes. Ultimately, it helped develop and deploy a solution across their network of stores, which improved throughput by 25%.

Since then, e-commerce has exploded in popularity and the pace of the industry has increased dramatically. While using the workstations the supplier provided 30 years ago, the retailer was able to seamlessly pivot to a successful e-commerce program, as the flexible, customizable units have been able to accommodate and adapt to innovations in equipment, packing materials and processes. Flat screen monitors and scanners are integrated into the workstations to help the retailer leverage new technological capabilities. Storage solutions for more durable protective packing materials, including air pillows and poly bags were implemented.

In addition, the supplier helped the retailer optimize its processes to meet customer expectations around expedited shipping, in-store pickup and hassle-free returns. Through these modifications, productivity of existing workstations increased by more than 20%.

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