As the apparel retail industry prepares to open its doors again, phased reopenings hinge on a safe shopping environment for both employees and customers. In response to the many questions surrounding the handling and management of returns in fitting rooms, stores, and fulfillment centers, Checkpoint Systems has announced a new technology agnostic software solution—Inventory Quarantine (IQ).
The SaaS-based solution can be stand alone or integrated with your store management system and allows retailers to assign returned stock to an automated quarantine “holding area” for a number of hours, removing items from visibility to customers both online and in-store.
Recommended to be set to government guidelines in accordance with the lifespan of COVID-19 on garments and packaging, the simple but effective solution helps retailers process returns, releasing items only when deemed safe for resale—maximizing sales while minimizing health risk.
Succeeding in the “New Now”
IQ uses unique software to identify returned items in fulfillment centers, stores, as well as merchandise from fitting rooms—initiating a virtual “quarantine clock.” Once activated, the items remain in a retailer’s designated “safe area” until the assigned quarantine period is completed. A push notification is then sent to employees notifying them that items are safe for resale.
During the coronavirus pandemic, online apparel sales increased 34 percent, according to Adobe Analytics, while ACI Worldwide has claimed that many online retail categories saw an uptick in sales of up to 74 percent for March. These increases in sales will no doubt lead to a sharp rise on the standard 30–40 percent return rate of clothes and shoes, posing logistical issues for retailers who are implementing a quarantine on returned items.
To add to the complexity, as brick-and-mortar stores reopen their doors, customers can begin returning items in person rather than via post. This coupled with items from fitting rooms, creates uncertainty over potential contamination of merchandise in stores.
Retailers carry the responsibility of ensuring returned or customer handled merchandise does not pose a health risk to others. As a result, the likes of Macy’s, Gap, Nordstrom, and Mango have already announced plans to quarantine items for a set period of time after they’ve been taken into a dressing room.
Keeping track and minimizing time “off shelf,” Checkpoint’s IQ solution is part of a suite of Safer Shopping automated solutions that are technology agnostic and help retailers introduce effective health and safety measures—instilling confidence in both employees and consumers.
“Across the world the shopping experience we have grown to know is dramatically changing. Retailers implementing new processes demonstrate they’re keeping people safe will undoubtedly be seen favorably by shoppers,” said Phil Fisher, director, product management for MV DC/supply chain at Checkpoint Systems.
“Returns and fitting rooms have always presented a huge challenge to retailers. COVID-19 has compounded this challenge even further. Shoppers who use dressing rooms are 70 percent more likely to buy, so it’s important to get them safely opened as quickly as possible. Inventory Quarantine enables retailers to do just that, and will ensure stores minimize the financial impact,” he added.
For more information about Inventory Quarantine, click here.