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Farewell WhatsApp: A little less conversation, a little more action

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We hear about a lot of different methods and new tools the retail industry are using to manage ops. However, the thing that continues to surprise us is the sheer number of retailers using Whatsapp, as one of their key communication tools with store teams to check compliance to brand standards.

With over 2 billion users checking the app on average 23 times per day, it’s no wonder that many retailers are using this easy, simple and free tool to communicate directly with store teams. In fact, 650 million people are using WhatsApp in the workplace every day.

But the app has its shortcomings.

Compliance and structure lie at the heart StorIQ, and as experts in this field, we’ve noticed aspects of the app that are counterproductive to our mission – to get the detail right in every store. Here are our top 4 reasons why you need to say farewell to WhatsApp and get your store teams using a purpose-built task management and retail operations tool.

1. No single source of truth

We’re all familiar with WhatsApp and we know how easy it is to send a quick message. However, with lengthy conversations, unstructured chat and the possibility of multiple groups with varying members – it can be hard to detect a single source of truth.

It’s easy for topics and actions to become confused or misinterpreted. Key team members can be accidentally left out of group chats, and questions and requirements can be lost altogether in long strings of information.

With multiple groups, and long, complicated threads, conversations between store and field team members, can lead to the sharing of misinformation; a Chinese whispers style dissemination of head office comms.

WhatsApp doesn’t allow you to create threaded chats to structure your communication, causing you to create multiple side groups for different aspects of a project, each with different members. And it’s nearly impossible to tell whether these tasks have been actioned. Even if you ask for photo evidence that a task has been completed, it is quickly lost in more messages.

2. Not a perfect solution for photo gathering

At #RTS2022 we spoke to several retailers that were using WhatsApp to gather photos from their stores to check compliance to VM standards. It’s a familiar and easy way for Area Managers to gather photos from their stores, that doesn’t require uploading photos to back office PCs and emailing to head office.

WhatsApp might save time for teams in stores, but it’s still an admin nightmare for Field and VM teams. It’s their job to ask for, chase up and download photos. They then need to get the photos into an easy to evaluate format and get those photos seen by the right people.

By the time you’ve gone through this process, you’ve already lost valuable time, and your stores will remain non-compliant for longer.

To save time for your field & VM teams, and get your stores compliant quicker, you need a tool that organises photos for you. That way you can build up a visual archive of stores, so you can give super-fast feedback. Be sure that stores are fixing any problems in a timely manner.

3. Senior management just need an overview, not detail

Senior management teams don’t need to know which employees at the Cambridge store are off sick, or why the York team can’t upload the photos of their window display until Wednesday.

All they need to know is that stores are receiving the right information and they’re completing all the tasks associated. If they aren’t, then they need to know that the right people are following up on issues where required.

Gathering this type of operational data is simply not possible on social apps like WhatsApp.

Senior management need visibility of reports that let them know how well stores are doing. Whether that’s time to compliance on a VM campaign or the number of lighting issues that have been flagged.

They simply don’t have time to trawl through endless messages. Senior Management need a quick way to cut through the noise to help them inform future business decisions. This type of reporting is only possible with purpose-built task management and communications tools.

4. It’s hard to stay a professional on a personal app (and vice versa!)

WhatsApp isn’t designed for professional communication. Using the same app to organise a babysitter and organise a time for your next Area Manager store visit, means that it’s hard to separate home and work life.

This is particularly prevalent for retail, where many employees work irregular shift patterns and on weekends. Nobody wants to be receiving messages about a late delivery of stock on their day off. Employees should be allowed the time to switch off when they’re not in store, and equally shouldn’t be distracted by social interactions during work hours.

This blog was first published August 2022.

Looking for ways to see how StorIQ can assist in your retail operations? Click here to see what our platform could do to improve your internal communications. Or click here to download StorIQ’s RETAIL THRIVES AGAIN eBook.

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