As the apparel retail industry prepares to open its doors again, phased re-openings 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 fulfilment centers, Checkpoint Systems has announced a new technology agnostic software solution – Inventory Quarantine (IQ).
The SaaS-based solution can be stand alone or integrated and allows retailers to assign returned stock into an automated quarantine ‘holding pattern’ for a number of hours, removing items from visibility to customers both online and in-store.
Recommended to be set to retailer or local government guidelines in order to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19, the simple but effective solution helps retailers process returns, releasing items only when deemed safe for re-sale – maximising sales while minimising health risk.
Succeeding in the ‘new now’
IQ uses unique software to identify returned items in fulfilment centres, 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 complete. A push notification is then sent to employees notifying them that items are safe for re-sale.
During the coronavirus pandemic, online apparel sales increased 34%, according to Adobe Analytics, while ACI Worldwide has claimed that many online retail categories saw an uptick in sales of up to 74% for March. These increases in sales will no doubt lead to a sharp rise on the standard 30-40%  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 re-open 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 minimising 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.
Phil Fisher, Director HALO Global Product Manager at Checkpoint Systems, commented:
“Across the world, the shopping experience we have grown to know is dramatically changing. Retailers that implement new processes that demonstrate they’re keeping people safe will undoubtedly be seen favourably by shoppers.
“Returns and fitting rooms have always presented a huge challenge to retailers, but that has been compounded by COVID-19. Shoppers who use dressing rooms are 70% more likely to buy, so it’s important to get them safely open as quickly as possible. Inventory Quarantine will enable retailers to do just that and will ensure stores minimise the financial impact”.
Checkpoint Systems, a division of CCL Industries, addresses two critical issues for its customers: Improving Profitability and Improving Consumer experience. With consumer demands accelerating at an extraordinary rate driven by technology, Checkpoint recognizes the challenges faced by its customers in the rapidly evolving retail market. We deliver intelligent solutions – bringing clarity and efficiency into the retail environment anytime, anywhere. Through a unique offering of software, hardware, labels, tags and connected cloud based solutions, Checkpoint optimizes operational efficiencies through analysis of real time data captured throughout the Supply Chain and in store then translating this to clear concise actions and tasks.
We provide end-to-end solutions enabling retailers to achieve accurate real-time inventory, accelerate the replenishment cycle, prevent out-of-stocks and reduce theft, thus improving merchandise availability and the shopper’s experience. Checkpoint’s solutions are built upon 48 years of radio frequency technology expertise, innovative high-theft and loss-prevention solutions, market-leading RFID hardware, RFID software, and comprehensive labeling capabilities, to brand, secure and track merchandise from source to shelf. Checkpoint’s customers benefit from increased sales and profits by implementing merchandise availability solutions, to ensure the right merchandise is available at the right place and time when consumers are ready to buy. Checkpoint operates in every major geographic market and employs 4,500 people worldwide.