STORES Magazine - June 2011 - (Page 92)

NUTS AND BOLTS / STORE OPERATIONS System Update Powell’s Books manages warehouse inventory with handheld technology BY DAVID P. SCHULZ I diosyncratic bookstores selling both new and used titles live in the domains of halcyon college days and learned travelers. The few such businesses to survive into the 21st century have had to fend off the rise (and fall) of book superstores, and its ilk and, most recently, the e-book reader. One such survivor is Powell’s Books, in Portland, Ore., which is using modern technology in its warehouse to remain customer friendly, both in its stores and online, so as to live to sell books another day. Powell’s opened 40 years ago, and over the years its flagship store has grown to fill a four-story building covering an entire city block — approximately 68,000 sq. ft. of space divided into nine color-coded rooms. Some 3,500 sections hold the various categories of the million or so books on the shelves. Approximately 80,000 people shop the store, five smaller locations and online on a typical day, and founder and owner Michael Powell estimates that he has probably sold well over 100 million books. Keeping those shelves stocked with pre-read books falls to used book distribution manager Jason Ellingson and his staff. One of Powell’s warehouses is filled with new titles in neat rows; the other is Ellingson’s stomping ground, where he presides over more than two million volumes wedged in wherever there is shelf space. Therein lays a tale about the need for an enhanced technological solution to keep tomes flowing to shelves while holding down costs and improving productivity. Managing the problem The warehouse staff was struggling with hand-held scanners, which often faltered when trying to read faded titles on some book spines. In addition, Powell’s employed two different barcodes — one placed on the books and carrying data like the title and relevant SKU information, and a second acting as a locator code and placed on the shelves where the books were stored. Unfortunately, the scanners could read only the SKU barcodes, so the locator barcode information had to be entered manually. In addition, when space opened up on a shelf it had to be “The NEO not only has the ability to be programmed specifically to organize our plethora of books, but has proven to be effective, affordable and the best option that meets all our requirements.” – Jason Ellingson, Powell’s Books 92 STORES / JUNE 2011 WWW.STORES.ORG http://WWW.STORES.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES Magazine - June 2011

Stores - June 2011
Editor’s Page
President’s Page
Retail People
CEO Compensation
Customer Service
Business Strategy
What We’ve Learned
Loss Prevention Supplier Directory
Customer Rewards
Business Management
Social Media
Planning Solutions
Loyalty Programs
Business Intelligence
Store Operations
Divisional Update
NRF News
Point of View
Retail Industry Calendar
End Cap

STORES Magazine - June 2011