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- May 21, 2007 -

 
   

RFID News: Is a “Mini-WMS” or Real-Time Locator System the Answer to Retail Stock Room Inventory Woes?

 
 

Retailer Cabela’s Simply Puts WMS into Each Store to Locate, Pick and Deliver Inventory to the Floor with High Levels of Accuracy

 
 

 

SCDigest Editorial Staff

The News: Outdoor retailer Cabela’s recently told a group of attendees at the Manhattan Associates User Conference that it is now using the WMS that it had originally installed in its DCs to manage store inventory and floor replenishment in its retail stores.

SC Digest Says:
It would seem that implementing a light WMS, especially one that can be hosted centrally and simply accessed by the stores, could be a relatively fast and simple way to get control of the backroom and inventory levels for many of these retailers

What do you say? Send us your comments here

The Impact: With so much of the recent focus on RFID and consumer goods centering on the challenges of finding and delivering inventory from stock room to the sales floor, Supply Chain Digest has often wondered why more companies don’t consider the WMS light route. The WMS a company owns for the DC, or another downsized commercial package, could be the smart and immediate answer for better store execution.

The Story: Cabela’s (Sidney, Neb.), a company focused on outdoor and sporting goods, has seen strong growth in its retail store channel after starting out as a catalog-based merchant.

Its 18 retail stores are massive, with the stock room alone often sized at 30,000 square feet; the stores carry as many as 150,000 SKUs.

To some people, implementation of a "light" Warehouse Management System may make sense in a large scale retail, but would not for smaller footprint stores. We think perhaps the concept should be tried in more places.

At Cabela’s, incoming inventory is scanned into general location areas in the stock room, providing a very accurate picture about what inventory is located where. Part of the business case for RFID is that retail associates can’t find product needed for replenishment in chaotic back office stock rooms, though retailers like Target, that use even lower tech, basic back room location systems are less vocal about this potential RFID benefit.

When inventory is needed on the floor, a “pick list” is generated, and replenishers using Radio Frequency terminals scan the inventory out of the stock room and confirm its placement on the new location on the floor or shelf.

Sounds pretty simple to us.

We’re often surprised at how few retailers have accurate perpetual inventory systems at the store. It would seem that implementing a light WMS, especially one that can be hosted centrally and simply accessed by the stores, could be a relatively fast and simple way to get control of the backroom and inventory levels for many of these retailers.

WMS providers would have to rethink pricing models to reflect reduced use of functionality and a different perspective on the right price for a “site,” but if we were retailers, we might try this before mega-spending on RFID.

Could more retailers use “light” WMS functionality to improve inventory management at store level? What are the barriers? Is there a better answer? And is it RFID? Let us know your thoughts at the feedback button below.

 
     
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