Dematic rolled out a world-first stocktaking solution for one of Australia’s leading fashion distributors, The Just Group.
RapidStocktake, an innovative Bluetooth-enabled solution, provides a host of efficiency benefits and cost savings for the retail group which includes well-known high street outlets including Just Jeans, Portmans, Peter Alexander and Jay Jays.
With around a thousand stores in Australia and New Zealand, the twice-yearly stocktake has traditionally been a labor-intensive and costly operation for the group, with stores remaining closed on the day of stocktaking until the process is completed.
For the past ten years, the group has been using portable data terminals (PDTs) with integrated laser scanners in a batch-driven process. Stocktaking typically requires about four PDTs to be sent to each store. After connecting each PDT to the store’s Point-of-Sale (POS) register to download the required data for the stocktake, staff would use the PDTs to scan and collect the stock data. When stocktaking was completed, the PDTs would then be reconnected to the store’s POS register one at a time, and the data uploaded to the group’s host computer.
With the PDTs nearing end-of-life and becoming increasingly unreliable, The Just Group asked Dematic to review the operation and suggest how the process could be improved.
In conjunction with The Just Group, Dematic reviewed a number of options to make the process wireless and eliminate the need to connect each PDT to the POS register before and after stocktaking. However, wireless networks normally require the installation of a WLAN and, with close to a 1000 stores, this would have added significant expense to the project.
Working in conjunction with Smart Scanner supplier Motorola and retail software specialist Bizcom, Dematic came up with the idea of using Bluetooth to facilitate wireless data transfer within the stores.
The Just Group’s Project Manager, Daniel Dunstan, said RapidStocktake has reduced the time required to complete a typical stocktake from around three, to less than two hours.
“The new Smart Scanners are equipped with image rather than laser scanners, and this makes the task of reaching into a rack of clothes and scanning tickets a lot easier and quicker for our staff,” he said.
“With the old laser scanners, staff always had to make sure the ticket was level while scanning to ensure the barcode would read correctly,” explained Mr Dunstan.
“Now, with the Smart Scanners, they don’t have to struggle to try and get the ticket in a certain position to ensure it reads correctly, as the image scanners are much more forgiving than laser scanners.
“Not counting the time we save by not having to physically connect the Smart Scanners to the POS register at the start and end of the process.”
“We expect to average labor cost savings of around four manhours per store. With two stocktakes across close to 1000 stores each year, that should deliver significant cost savings for the group.”
“Not only that, with the new stocktaking process typically requiring an hour less to complete, we have also been able to open our stores on the day of stocktake by 9.30am instead of around 10:30am in the past.
“Across our network of stores, we believe the extra trading hours could generate significant additional sales.”
With the new MT2000 Smart Scanners being significantly smaller and lighter than the previous PDTs, The Just Group has also been able to reduce the cost of shipping the units between stores.
“Our previous PDTs were much bulkier and heavier and required a significantly larger shipping case,” said Mr Dunstan. “We estimate that with our new shipping cases being much more compact and weighing 6kg instead of 15kg, freight costs will be reduced by around a third or more.”
The Just Group’s Stocktake Manager, Ken Dobeson, said the use of Bluetooth was an innovative and very effective solution.
“Bluetooth is ideal for use in our stores as it is an effective wireless data transfer method in enclosed spaces, and it is also a very secure system. A feature of Dematic’s solution that appealed to us was that the actual stocktaking process was still effectively the same, which meant we didn’t have to retrain staff.
“Our staff also find the new Smart Scanners much easier to handle and operate than the old units,” said Mr Dobeson.
Benefits of RapidStocktake
- Faster stocktake resulting in labor cost savings
- Stores open longer generating additional sales
- Reduction in shipping costs of the stocktake equipment
- Cost savings as new WLAN infrastructure not required
- No need to retrain staff in the use of equipment