Voice Technology: Built to Match the Realities of the Retail Floor
Retailers frequently adapt their service models to meet continually changing, perpetual shifts in consumer needs and expectations. Never has this dynamic been more apparent than it is today. Intense online competition had already required traditional retailers to scale up their own e-commerce and offer more services based out of their brick-and-mortar stores — such as click-and-collect and ship-from-store delivery. And in a post-pandemic environment, these omnichannel services have become even more critical for retail survival. As a result of those increased pressures, stores must become more like mini distribution centers (DCs). While the majority of retailers have added labor, they still lack the necessary infrastructures to consistently and cost-effectively meet the service level agreements of in-store fulfillment.
By applying proven voice technology to the demands of in-store workflows, retailers can address a variety of operational challenges, such as order fulfillment, shelf replenishment, inventory management and more. Used in warehousing, distribution and fulfillment for decades, voice technology enables retail associates to be hands-free and eyes-free, increasing their productivity by up to 20 percent while they perform their assigned daily tasks.
Applying Voice Technology Across Multiple Store Workflows
While the emerging demands of in-store fulfillment have become the catalyst for adopting new technology, the application of voice technology also extends to store operations and compliance workflows.
- In-store picking: Deliver on the click-and-collect promise. Text-to-speech technology directs and tracks order fulfillment work to meet service level agreements and maximize labor productivity. Device screens can supplement verbal instruction so employees can receive suggestions for an alternative if a substitute item is needed.
- Returns processing: Give customers the convenient, flexible returns process they desire without tying up labor. Step-by-step instruction quickly integrates returned merchandise into inventory management processes with clear visibility.
- Gap scanning: Enable associates to act fast in the event they notice an item is out of stock. Simply scan the shelf tab to automatically create a list of items in need of replenishment from backroom storage.
- Restocking and inventory replenishment: Improve the efficiency and visibility of restocking processes via hands-free instruction and confirmation. Track inventory from docks to shelves with system-driven receiving, staging, put-away and replenishment.
- Load to cart: Keep shelves stocked and maximize labor productivity by sorting mixed-load pallets into different carts for more efficient store aisle replenishment.
- Stock counting: Minimize lost sales due to out-of-stocks through regularly scheduled cycle counts. Connected workflows handle the complexity of greater SKU variety while eliminating paper document management, double data entry and other manual issues.
- Training: Step-by-step instruction and natural voice dialogue reduce training time for new associates and/or temporary labor, while driving consistent execution.
- Accountability: Managers can determine clear associate responsibility, with software tracking both the assignment of tasks and the acknowledgement by employees of work completion.
- Staffing: Through the operational visibility driven by data collected when using voice-directed workflows, management gains a better understanding of how long tasks take. This information then fuels labor models to build more accurate staffing requirements, ensuring enough associates are scheduled to fill orders and run normal store operations.
- Combining processes: With voice-directed picking, associates can be filling click-and-collect orders while simultaneously reporting inventory shortages, or change price labels while restocking shelves.
- Planogram auditing: Ensure items are in the correct, optimized locations to maximize sales and quality. This helps keep fast-movers easily visible in high-traffic areas and allows grocers to ensure freshness.
- Annual stock count: Enable the workforce to assist with financial compliance by tracking and reporting inventory through a secure, managed process.
To discover multiple ways to leverage voice technology and drive greater operational accuracy, efficiency and productivity throughout retail stores with Honeywell Voice, read our white paper, Leverage Voice Technology in Retail Store Operation.