Reinventing our store experience through operational efficiency
With over 750+ stores and multiple warehouses in the region, working with our partners to enhance our store operations is key to achieving a sustainable supply chain.
Optimising efficiency of our Store Operations
Our Retail Store Operations teams are responsible for ensuring that our stores are operationally performing at the highest standard to better serve our customers. In 2019, our team embarked on two major projects to improve the day-to-day operations of our stores.
Retail Store Operations (RSO) Platform:
RSO is a digital platform, that supports our store-front employees in their daily operations. It is made up of different modules, including a messenger tool that enables real-time communication between our front-line and back office support services.
The platform digitalises all communications and requests for the front liners removing paper forms from the stores where stores can easily log incidents or submit requests through digital forms. Since its launch in 2017, our teams have been working on improving the platform to ensure efficiencies across all processes in all countries. In 2020 we will be taking the platform to the next level to make it even more user friendly. This year, we introduced a Transfer module which allows us to live track the physical movement of any assets & stock along with the number and whereabouts of the drivers on the road. The RSO platform is fully integrated with the Logistics delivery app to ensure there is clear visibility on delivery and tracking. The platform digitalises all communications and requests for the front liners removing paper forms from the stores. As of 2019, we have witnessed stronger compliance regionally to new store standards and processes, proper logging of all incidents and corrective actions taking place in our stores as well as an ability to generate detailed dashboards and reports which helps us further improve upon our operations. With greater reliance on RSO, our stores can contribute to realising the Group’s vision of going digital, in turn reducing resource consumption, creating greater efficiencies and saving time and money.
XStores equipped shops:
In 2019, we also introduced ‘XStores’, a point of sale system that allows our store employees to perform transactions with mobile devices instead of relying on completing counter sales allowing for a more seamless customer experience. We also expect XStores equipped shops to help us reduce the number of physical receipts that we issue, by providing our customers with environmentally friendly e-receipts via email. The platform will also reduce the transaction time, as customers do not have to wait in line at the sales counters.
Using these different platforms, we have been working towards going paperless in stores by reducing our Point of Sale (POS) prints (i.e. opening and closing reports), promoting more digital receipts to customers, as well as encouraging our store employees to avoid unnecessary printing. So far, we have been able to reduce our paper consumption with the equivalent of 136 boxes of paper recycled in the UAE.
We have removed all plastic and styrofoam options from store supply request forms, in line with the Group’s single-use-reduction strategy. For more information on this strategy, please refer to the following page. For 2020, we aim to measure the impact of all these initiatives in over 600 stores across the region, as well as automate our petty cash operations. This comes as a plan to better control our drive to be resource-efficient and avoid plastics. More than ever, we are encouraging our employees to adopt a sustainability mindset by offering them reusable water bottles and by moving to digital forms that were previously filled-out manually. By undertaking these initiatives, we will serve as an inspiration for other retailers in the region to adopt innovative and sustainable practices.
Efficient logistics and warehouse operations
In 2019, we started to measure the emissions of our ‘Freight Forward’ program, focusing on the import of products from Asia, Europe, and North America. By doing so, we have worked on route optimisation by investing in air shipment on direct flights instead of relying on more time-consuming indirect flights, leading to a reduction in carbon emissions. By the end of 2019, we aggregated all carbon emissions from the different types of freights (land, air, and sea) based on full year reports that are shared with us by the freight companies that we work with. Furthermore, to continue on our path of further growth and transformation, we have implemented a freight forwarding digital tool Logitude in Q3 2019, to enhance tracking and collaboration between stakeholders, namely brands, accounts, and logistics.
In 2018, we launched ‘FarEye’, a tool to manage our last-mile distribution. The last-mile delivery experience is a direct contact moment with the customer and therefore an essential part of our logistics. The ‘FarEye’ tool is directly linked with the Retail Store Operations (RSO) platform to allow for a more efficient way of handling all store related movements and the home deliveries. By eliminating manual transactions and data entries, it has allowed us to create several efficiencies, including shifting to paperless transactions. In 2019, we have continued to leverage the possibilities of ‘FarEye’ by using it to gather more information on our routes. With access to increased information, the tool has allowed for route optimisation, resulting in shorter and fewer routes for the same amount of deliveries. This increases the speed of our deliveries and reducing our carbon footprint.
Furthermore, to give a personal touch to our deliveries, we had launched our ‘associate delivery’ concept in 2017, where we source our own employees to deliver items in a shorter period. The proof of concept piloted in 2017 has allowed us to launch ‘associate delivery’ in Saudi Arabia and expand across the UAE in 2019.
To further our progress in becoming more resource-efficient, we have also started using CAFU, an on-demand car refueling service. As per our current practice, all logistical vehicles that are returning from delivery should have a full tank, to minimise any delay the following morning. All of our delivery staff were previously refueling the vehicles at the gas station. Waiting in line at a gas station also consumes a large amount of fuel, leading to unnecessary carbon emissions. By using CAFU’s service we are eliminating wait time at the stations, consequently leading to less carbon emissions and increasing productivity of our staff who no longer need to use time out of their working hours to fill-up the tanks. As a result, we estimate that we can reduce our CO2 emissions by approximately 8,148 Kg in a year through the on-demand car refueling service.
We are convinced that by challenging ourselves to optimise our logistics and supply chain, we will not only reduce our environmental footprint, we will also be able to offer a higher level of service to our customers.
Case Study: Stores Towards Earth’s Protection (STEP)
As part of our commitment to operate in an ethical and sustainable manner across all our value chain, we developed the STEP rating system in 2017, an in-store assessment tool to be completed once a new store opens. STEP helps us to assess how environmentally friendly our stores are and enables us to find ways to improve our sustainability performance. In line with the Group’s vision to digitalise our processes for increased efficiency and reach, we have revamped our STEP scorecard in 2019 and incorporated it within the RSO software. This allows for the assessment to be a mandatory digital audit with other required store opening checklists. In addition to architectural and fit-out considerations such as the energy and water efficiency of our stores, types of construction materials used, the updated version further expands on the commercial operations section to assess our colleagues’ sustainable behavior and choices. Stores are rated based on their ability to provide us with adequate evidence that they are operationalising our brand’s commitment to sustainability. In 2020, we aim to use the smart dashboards and reports to increase our store’s sustainability performance and make recommendations to our brands to adopt more responsible practices.