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Does the store backroom need to look like a DC?

As retail goes omnichannel, more vendors are filling online orders from stores. This has big implications for their backroom operations.

By Susan K. Lacefield

The well-known supply chain consultant Jim Tompkins has an analogy for the typical retail store backroom. These backrooms, he says, look like many people's garages, serving as an unorganized storage space, with items and boxes stuffed and precariously stacked in every odd corner.

However, as more and more retailers experiment with fulfilling online orders from their brick-and-mortar stores, backrooms can no longer function this way. In a recent white paper, "Retail Backrooms: A Revolution in Roles and Business Value," Tompkins' consulting company, Tompkins International, argues that the backroom must evolve into a place for picking, packing, and possibly shipping orders. But accomplishing that will require greater organization, more attention to processes, and possibly automation.

In short, backrooms will need to look less like a hoarder's garage and more like a mini-distribution center. As these storerooms start to undergo this transformation, retailers will have to ask themselves the following key questions.

 

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