The use of lean storage in retail stores has slowly gained popularity over the years. Once considered too awkward and rugged for a grocery store or electronics merchandiser, the concept was reserved for hardware stores and bait and tackle shops. Customers responded by buying in bulk at any type of retail outfit with lower prices, regardless of what the stores interior looked like. As more and more companies are trying to lower costs for consumers to improve their patronage, the idea of being a discount retailer is more appealing. In fact, the concept often comes with a customers expectation of live storage in the store so that they can pay less. For retail business owners that have not yet caught on to the concept of lean storage, these are some of the reasons that it works. When it works, companies can save money and enjoy a better profit margin.
Format Making the transition from a regular grocery or electronics store may be more difficult than starting out that way. Changing the standard shelving to live storage or pallet rack structures may be less cost effective when creating a changeover. It is more effective, however, once the system is set up. One advantage is that stockers can use conveyors in stores to offload trucks to pallets, rather than storing items in the back and moving them again to the shelves. This reduces the amount of time and labor needed to accomplish the task of keeping shelves stocked in the back rooms and on the retail floor.
Structure Use warehouse shelving instead of standard retail shelves to keep in more inventory on the sales floor for customers to buy. One option is to store full pallets on the floor. Customers can easily pull bulk products from the pallets rather than navigating cumbersome shelves. It takes less time for an employee with a forklift to exchange an empty pallet for a full one than it does to restock the shelves with a few cases of soda or cartons of paper towels. Use of a pallet rack rather than standard shelving is also more cost effective.
Another option is to use higher shelves to keep more inventory on hand for customers to purchase. Rather than using a warehouse storage facility, the retailer can load product directly into the store. While higher shelves may be less accessible to customers, the product can be brought down by employees to a manageable level when lower shelves become bare. Adjusting the racks for product height also increases efficiency. All types of inventory can be melded together in one area, rather than stocking tall or large items on tall shelving for the higher levels or special aisles.
Bulk Retailers should consider letting people buy items in bulk for a lower price. This is a draw for those with large families. It is also helpful for institutional needs or corporate events where multiple containers of food or bulk amounts of electronic equipment must be purchased. Saving money is always a priority for the customer, and should be for the retail merchant, as well.