There are tried and tested methods for getting a single team up-and-running and aligned to a goal. Applying the same single-team formula across multiple departments in a large organisation (like a national or international retailer) is much harder to achieve! If everyone is driving towards their own goals, how do you establish a consistent focus that crosses the departmental barriers? The secret is to create a common goal for everyone; synchronise operations through KPIs!
Truth about technology
You might not be surprised to hear that supermarkets have the advantage when it comes to customer service. The data collected by retailers these days ranges from the basic (at the lower end of the tech spectrum) to the staggering (for the more advanced organisations). Here are a few examples:
- Loyalty card: the ultimate resource for retailers wanting to build a picture of their customers’ habits. The loyalty card connects all customer touch-points, both in-store and online.
- Mobile app: not available at all retailers yet, but there’s a growing recognition that Gen Z will be almost completely mobile – what ever mobile phones will a look like – and retailers need to be where the consumers are.
- Website cookies: a virtually-hidden part of a consumer’s online activity, but utilised by retailers to create a more seamless experience and build a more complete picture of their customers.
- Customer WiFi: not only does this provide a good-will gesture to customers, but also enables retailers to track mobile devices around the store as they move from one access point to another.
- In-store bluetooth beacons: still too costly to be practical, the concept allows location-based targeting of promotions in store, amongst other things.
The reality is that, whilst all this technology is useful, none of it is being used by retailers today to help them run stores.
Ok, that last statement wasn’t entirely true. Some of the data collected in the above examples is helping retailers become better retailers. However, none of it is being used in real-time, and that’s where the real magic is!
Keeping it simple
We know that the trick to running a store well is: good foresight and an agile team. This applies to all retail stores, regardless of their size. The foresight ensures the right products are available at the right time. The agility ensures your team is serving customers, when and where they need serving.
You certainly don’t need much technology to run a store or retail supply chain these days, but a little in the right places can make a huge difference to the efficiency of your operation, and the experience for your customers.
Obvious things (like a till in a store) aside, here are a few suggestions for where you could use technology to help deliver a slick retail operation:
- Good foresight:
- identify product sales trends by day / week / month / seasonality to order the right products;
- understand competitor pricing to ensure your product and deliver propositions are good value;
- determine when customers will reach the tills in your store based on their entry-time, dwell in certain areas, and typical shopping journey;
- ensure your supply chain offers visibility, so you can track incoming and outgoing product movement easily.
- Agile team:
- train your team to be multi-skilled so you have complete flexibility;
- find ways to communicate and collaborate effectively;
- get your team to your customers as quickly as possible;
- empower your team to make decisions and take action.
Depending on the size of your operation, there are plenty of technology options out there – some more complex and costly than others. My advice is to keep it simple.
One last thing
There’s one last trick to add to the list, to keep your store running smoothly and customers happy:
- Shared, customer-centric KPI
Put simply, your retail team needs to have a shared purpose. Something to focus on that delivers for customers.
Give your teams a KPI that’s easy to remember, and totally within their power to deliver. It also needs to be easily measurable, and satisfies WIIFM (“What’s In It For Me”) – in other words, your team needs an incentive.
Get all this right, and you’ll achieve the perfectly synchronised retail operation!