In an increasingly complex landscape, retailers need to invest in store optimization
Aligning the business strategy with the idea of the in-store experience is table stakes in today’s market. Many retailers already have the right tools, but they’re not using them in the right way, which leaves potential on the table. Store teams are a critical part of the in-store experience. But in an omnichannel world, their roles are becoming increasingly complex. Retailers are responsible for equipping their stores and teams for success.
Here are 3 ways to use your store team to their fullest potential.
Equip associates to be omnichannel guides
The store experience starts and ends with associates. So, retailers cannot afford to have associates that feel like they don’t matter. Associates need to be properly equipped to best serve today’s digitally savvy consumer. When retailers empower and support their associates, they help create an environment that they know they can succeed in. Tools like edge computing, digital mobility, endless aisle, and appointments ease the burden associates feel from their expanding omnichannel responsibilities.
Having an omnichannel view of merchandise gives associates the ability to increase their scope while matching customer expertise. Associates shouldn’t be limited to selling in-store only products, especially when nearly half of customers expect them to be knowledgeable on the full catalog. Endless aisle technologies equip associates to be able to cite the full product catalog, including online-exclusives and other locations’ stock. Associates can then sell (and get credit) for omnichannel sales right from the sales floor. This adds value to the overall customer experience while also being beneficial in supporting associates.
Streamline operations as the role of the store changes
The future of stores is focused on the customer experience and designed for omnichannel operations. Practices like BOPIS, curbside pick-up, ship-to/from-store, and same-day delivery are becoming more common as the role of the store evolves. But, these operations are often a huge pain point for retailers as they’re very taxing for the store teams supporting them. Stores are not built to be warehouses or distribution centers. Associates need to be able to systematically and efficiently manage their responsibilities on the sales floor with the functions of distributing merchandise. In-store technology can help lessen the burden.
Managing distribution means being able to track orders, complete packing workflows, and manage inventory. Being able to do this all in one place is critical to maintaining efficient operations. Not having to jump between devices and systems from floor selling to store fulfillment eases the complexity of the multifaceted role of the associate. Maintaining the proper balance between customer convenience and ease of associate usability keeps the store running smoothly.
Use store managers as leaders on the sales floor
Labor is among the top cost-drivers of profit & loss. To be competitive retailers must drive towards finding and maximizing the ROI of their associates. Store managers are a key resource in ensuring the most is being made of every labor hour by coaching associates to success. 60% of store managers were once associates themselves, meaning they know the ins and outs of the role and how to succeed in it. Yet, their talent and expertise is generally spent pouring over reports, instead of on the floor.
The focus needs to be less on the mundane tasks and more on the customers and strategies to build the business. Performance planning technology automates reporting and interprets the data, so store managers can see at a glance what they need to do to boost productivity. They can then act as leaders on the floor. Building systems of efficiency on the sales floor is critical for getting the most out of every labor hour.
Bringing it all together
Your store team is one of the most valuable competitive advantages that you have, when you utilize them properly. Associates are the front line when it comes to representing the brand, and they need the proper tools and support in order to do their jobs effectively. Especially as the role of the associate and the function of the store changes, there needs to be innovation around store operations to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Store managers have a critical role to play in supporting the store, and they need to be given the availability to share their expertise and coach on the sales floor.
Watch our webinar with Forrester VP Analyst Brendan Witcher, Forrester on the New Retail Imperative: Utilizing Stores As A Competitive Advantage to gain valuable research and insights on today’s omnichannel customer journey and what it takes to get brick-and-mortar right.