23 Mar Championing retail operations technology
Never underestimate the opportunity and potential that resides within your retail operations function.
For context in this article ‘retail operations function’ is referring to the multitude of activities carried out by: central retail support and store communications; VM and marketing; field and store teams.
The case of best in class retail operations
Often overlooked in favour of investment in customer-facing / “omni” related initiatives, the retail operations team and the processes they manage day-in and day-out are the lifeblood of the brick-and-mortar retail organisation. At StorIQ we argue that the long-term success and hence ROI of a wide plethora of projects that are flavour-of-the-month, from click-and-collect, RFID through to mPOS, are only truly realisable if you have a super efficient and transparent retail operations and store communication function underpinning the organisation.
Don’t get us wrong – investment in innovative projects that can help meet the ever changing demands of today’s customer and neutralise the negative effects and challenges of today’s ultra-competitive retail market is vital. We just want to remind you that it is usually the moving parts of the retail operations function that are impacted or in many cases required to deliver and implement the vast majority of these projects that you are investing in. It is the store operations and communication function and its effectiveness that determines whether change is implemented successfully or not.
Our recommendation therefore is invest in your retail operations function as a priority ahead of further investment in retail innovation.
Best in class retail operations and store communication can:
- provide a better and more consistent customer experience
- unlock the true potential of omni-channel investment (for more see here)
- deliver and embed strategic change quicker and in a way that is more likely to succeed, for example, shifting the store model to one that is more ‘experiential’ requires all components of retail operations to succeed
- improve workload planning, increase retail productivity and drive down costs
- deliver brand promise whilst protecting the brand
Technology as an enabler
There is no replacement for people, management, training and individual capability but technology can and does help people do their jobs more efficiently and accurately. This is no less the case in retail operations where we can see first hand how technology can take existing processes and improve them, making them quicker, automated and more transparent. Why then do you come across so many well-known and respected retailers who have retail operations teams working with outdated and inefficient technology?
If you don’t currently have a system in place that allows you to see at a glance what is happening from a retail operations perspective across your store portfolio, from high-level down to granular on-the-ground detail then chances are you don’t have the right technology in place!
A purpose-built Retail Operations and Store Communication platform can:
- make the lives of the store teams easier and ensure they can spend more time ‘customer-facing’
- cut down on admin, data entry and time-wasting
- make communication more accessible, easier and mobile
- close the loop on task management
- improve consistency across the board, from field team store visits through to in-store execution
- make it easier to find, share and ‘roll-out’ best practice
- achieve VM compliance at speed
- provide retail ops metrics and reporting, including store and region benchmarking, that in turn helps drive further improvement
The Retail Operations Technology Champion
Many retailers have prospered from the efforts of an individual who has taken on the responsibility for championing improvement in retail operations. Ideally the champion should be a senior-level executive or at least involved in management or oversight of the retail operations department, field and store teams. Usually this role would be the Central Operations Director, Head of Retail, Retail Operations Director or similar. In some cases, particularly in smaller to mid-size retailers it is the CEO, CFO or CIO who spots the implicit, some would say obvious, value in striving for best in class retail operations and accompanying investment in appropriate technology.
Now more than ever slick store operations and 5* store communication is needed. When looked at in the light described above retail operations technology as an enabler is a potential goldmine of ROI.
Meet StorIQ at RBTE to explore further
If you’re a retail operations technology champion for your organisation interested in driving process improvement, increased efficiency, reducing costs using technology and priming future innovation projects for success, then speak to the retail operations excellence experts from StorIQ at Stand 895 at RBTE on 8th and 9th May to learn more.