Fixtures are crazy-hard

By Nick Downey

Navigating the intricacies of fixtures is undeniably challenging. Often overshadowed by other priorities, fixtures have become the “red-headed stepchild” of retail operations. Retailers often underestimate the complexity of managing fixtures or, worse, simply ignore the issue. 

Whether fixtures are sent from corporate to individual stores or requested by stores from corporate, the field needs clear visibility into fixture details and order status. This clarity is essential for successful merchandising execution.

Understanding the challenges

Identifying what you have and what you need

A common misconception in retail is that each store in a retail chain is the same. We’ve been conditioned to think that if you go to an instance of a certain retailer in Kansas, it will be the same in Atlanta. 

Just because things look the same, doesn’t mean they actually are the same. For example, the floorplan and the placement of the shelves may be identical, but the actual materials of the display may be different.

To place a fixture order correctly, you need to know exactly what is already there. And you can’t always order the same thing for every store.

Identifying where fixtures are coming from

Determining where fixtures are coming from isn’t always intuitive. Fixtures come from multiple sources, may only be used once and never again, or might be something you keep in stock.

For example, a home improvement retailer may need a new flooring display weighing several thousand pounds. In that case, the display should be ordered from a local resource. Plus, the tile available in New York isn’t necessarily the same as the tile available in California.

Also, non-merchandise doesn’t come from one central location. Some items might ship directly from manufacturers, while others might come from a warehouse (or part of a warehouse) dedicated to non-merchandise. 

Facilitating the order

Coordinating the order itself and how to get it to the store is also a monumental challenge. Retailers have specific guidelines around non-merchandise ordering, including if an item can be ordered on demand, when it can be shipped and how visibility into order status will be tracked. 

While many orders align with standard operational procedures, some might have unique requirements, such as specific dates when items can be delivered. For example, you might place an order on Monday, expecting to receive it by Tuesday. However, logistical constraints and consolidation processes might delay the delivery until Friday. This coordination becomes even more intricate for retailers managing logistics across a national presence of thousands of stores.

Impacts on retailers

Here are the most common fixture-related impacts that hinder merchandising execution:

  • Delayed new product rollouts: Fixture issues can disrupt scheduled product launches, especially when a specific fixture is needed. These delays result in wasted advertising spend and frustrate customers when they can’t locate the advertised product.
  • Unanticipated costs of material returns and disposal: Ordering errors require the return or disposal of incorrect fixtures, resulting in additional costs and operational inefficiencies.
  • Safety and compliance risks: Mismanaged fixtures can lead to potential safety hazards or compliance violations, exposing retailers to legal and reputational risks.
  • Overspending on rush shipping and excessive go-back labor: Rushed shipping leads to increased costs. The need for extensive go-back labor to manage misplaced or returned items further strains operations.

Navigating the solutions

Solutions to the challenges of non-merchandise ordering depend on the goals and desired outcomes of the retailer. However, all the solutions hinge on having one version of the truth, including information about the fixtures currently in each store. 

Instead of relying on outdated spreadsheets or cumbersome systems that don’t provide real-time information, incorporating non-merch order details into a single hub improves the efficiency of retail execution and shields users from unnecessary complexity. All fixture order details live in one place, right next to planograms, project documents and other resources. The necessary information is readily available for completing reset tasks, checking orders and initiating re-orders when required. 

With the right approach and tools, fixture ordering can transition from the neglected “red-headed stepchild” to a streamlined, frictionless and cost-effective process.

Interested in boosting your field team’s performance? 

Eliminate unnecessary fixture hassles, centralize information, enable real-time updates and facilitate seamless communication with MerchLogix. To learn more about how we can enhance your in-store execution, reach out to our team

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