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New Inventory Quarantine tool to help automate returns

By admin-demo 29 May 2020

As the apparel retail industry prepares to open its doors again, new technology has been released to aid retailers with inventory quarantine.

New Inventory Quarantine tool to help automate returns

As the apparel retail industry prepares to open its doors again, new technology has been released to aid retailers with inventory quarantine.

Phased re-openings hinge on a safe shopping environment for both employees and customers, with this including quarantines of handled or returned goods before they are made available for sale again.

In response to the many questions surrounding the handling and management of returns in fitting rooms, stores and fulfilment centers, Checkpoint Systems has unveiled a new technology agnostic software solution to help: Inventory Quarantine (IQ).

The SaaS-based solution can be stand alone or integrated with an existing 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 solution helps retailers process returns, releasing items only when deemed safe for resale – maximising sales while minimising health risk. 

Succeeding in the ‘new now’

IQ uses 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  completed. 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 are likely to 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. 

“Returns and fitting rooms have always presented a huge challenge to retailers. Covid-19 has compounded this challenge even further,” says Phil Fisher, director, product management – MV DC/Supply Chain at Checkpoint Systems.

“Shoppers who use dressing rooms are 70% 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 minimise the financial impact.”