Gap Stores Address Biggest Customer Frustration with New “In-Stock” Mobile App
by Chris Cooney, Gap Inc. Communications
At Gap Inc., we’re always listening to feedback. One of customers’ biggest frustrations is when they visit a store and they can’t find an item they want in their size. What we found was that about 40% of the time, the item was in the store, but just in the stockroom. This means a customer leaves disappointed, and a sales opportunity was missed. So, Gap Inc.’s digital and engineering teams got to work on a solution and launched the “In Stock on Shelf” app.
Developed in-house and piloted across Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy, the “In Stock On Shelf” app is designed to to help store associates better manage inventory on the sales floor, replenish items that have been sold, and help customers get the size they’re looking for. And this technology just went live in all Gap brand stores in the US.
How It Works
First, units are scanned into the app, including size detail, color and stockroom location. When an item has sold out from the sales floor, instead of manually going through the racks, sales associates are now proactively alerted on their mobile device when an item needs to be replenished. Similarly, if a customer can’t find a size, an associate can now scan a barcode of the same item, and the app responds with a list of every size and color of that item available in the store. If the right item is available, the app provides the stockroom location, saving time for the associate and ensuring the customer finds what they needed.
Store teams have called the new technology “brilliant,” “remarkable” and even “life-changing” for their day-to-day and for the business. After deploying the solution in Gap stores in the US, the rate at which an item is available in the stockroom but not on the sales floor has decreased to just 1% across all stores. This means if customers are looking for a specific size and color, it’s now out on the floor and easy to find.
Hans Jacobsen, district manager of Gap stores in Minnesota, said the time savings are an immediate win for store productivity. “Store associates don’t lose time looking for product in the back room anymore,” he said. “The technology can easily view what’s available and where it is at all times.”
The app also speeds up replacing sold merchandise with back stock, ensuring every available size is represented on the sales floor. The In Stock On Shelf app generates a real-time replenishment report, factoring in what sold and where to find replacement units. “We no longer need to manually pull reports or manually check for size integrity,” Jacobsen said,” it’s all done within the app.”
Store teams love it because there’s no more guesswork in searching through stockrooms and shelves for specific styles. Customers love it because the product they want is in their hands almost immediately.
After testing the solution, other stores found new ways to use the app to improve their day-to-day. Visual teams, who used to have to visit stockrooms multiple times to make decisions on what styles to display, can now check the app and decide on the spot how to change merchandising based on inventory.
Because the solution was created internally, the app is tailored to work seamlessly with our organization’s other retail technology across our suite of brands. For example, when a desired size or style is truly out of stock, the associate can toggle to Gap’s “Order In Store” app to find it online. The customer instantly has a digital cart with the desired style, and leaves with a positive customer experience.
With early success in Gap brand stores, the “In Stock On Shelf” app is currently in pilot across its other brands.