Step 1 – Streamline Communications and Improve Execution
An effective store execution platform works wonders on store performance and task compliance; ensuring that your stores provide the best possible customer experience, every time.
In our last blog, “5 Steps to Thriving When Prices Drop”, I outlined how retailers can achieve a consistent, positive in-store experience in five steps. I covered:
- Streamlining communications to improve execution
- Forecasting which days will have peak sales
- Aligning labor spend with peak day analysis
- Scaling fulfillment operations
- Implementing new strategies to impress customers
In this blog I dive into why streamlining communications and improving execution is key and how many retailers have already achieved positive results.
Stores are overwhelmed with the hundreds of tasks sent by corporate. Communications are often inconsistent and come in varying forms. When a merchandising set is about to launch, store managers have to sift through 3-ring binders, emails, voicemails, and fax and text messages; each which typically contains slightly different instructions than the last.
Can haphazard communication cause you problems? Yes.
The multi-edition, multi-format communication model that many retailers employ at corporate causes problems for both headquarters and stores:
- Corporate lacks visibility into store workload and compliance rates
- Store managers are kept off of the sales floor viewing disparate communications
- Lack of two-way feedback between stores and corporate
Worse, it negatively impacts the bottom line. With inconsistent execution, customer service falls. According to Gartner Research, the average customer looks elsewhere after 2.3 negative experiences. One or two customers leaving won’t have an impact on the bottom-line. But unfortunately, the multiplier effect of poor chain-wide execution does serious damage to customer loyalty and thus, future earnings.
To avoid the above problems Retailers must streamline communications between corporate and stores and be able to monitor completion levels. But how?
The answer: implement a store execution platform to reform communications and building a foundation for execution success. Doing so creates the right structure for corporate to track task completion and give stores the tools to comply with tasks.
Fixing the problems starts at corporate. For retailers without a task management solution, stores are constantly being bombarded with tasks from every department. If you are a retailer with multiple store formats it can be even more confusing. Corporate may have a task that is specific to their big-box stores, but because they lack a task management solution, the task will be sent to all their stores. All of this adds to in-store confusion.
The first step to fixing these issues is to hire corporate gatekeepers who manage the flow of tasks to stores. Gatekeepers shield stores from being inundated. Working with their corporate partners, gatekeepers decide which tasks corporate sends to stores, what are the priorities, and at what times. They also ensure that tasks are not sent indiscriminatingly and that only stores in the right format receive the right tasks. With features such as store distribution lists, it’s easy to ensure only the right stores receive tasks, not everyone in the company. Confusion averted!
One-Stop-Shop for Task Updates
The next problem that a store execution platform addresses is constant changes to tasks that present themselves in various communications. Today, a new product rollout is sent to stores using binders, emails, text messages, etc. Each update to the plan is sent in a new communication. When it comes time for the store to execute the plan, it is hard for store managers to piece together the most up-to-date version of the task. This leads to lower levels of compliance and to an inconsistent customer experience across the chain.
With a task management solution, all tasks are viewable in a unified interface. All updates from corporate are made to the original task behind the scenes ensuring that Store Managers always see all the most up-to-date information in one place. This way store managers are aware of upcoming tasks and can be confident that all the information and instructions are the latest. Streamlining this process increases task compliance and completion levels and gives customers the experience they deserve.
Corporate Task Visibility
The final problem that has to be addressed is corporate’s visibility into task completion. Today, many retailers fly blind and have no idea if the well thought out plans that corporate is building are actually being executed as intended.
A task management solution provides an interface for corporate and the stores to track the status of any project. As store managers progress through tasks, corporate can see when tasks have been reviewed, are in progress, and have been completed.
This capability is critical in the case of Class 1 Product Recalls. Without any visibility, corporate has no idea which stores know, which have started, or which have completed the recall. With the solution, corporate can track everything that is happening, and follow-up with district or store managers in the event that the task has not been reviewed after a specified amount of time. This ensures completion and customer safety.
Let us take a look at a few customers who have already achieved significant returns by implementing a task management solution.
The Proof is in the Pudding
Retailers from diverse verticals including DIY, Specialty, and Grocery, have all made the decision to use task management platforms in their stores.
Delhaize America, a multi-billion dollar grocer with banners including Hannaford and Food Lion, implemented a solution when they faced mounting challenges when it came to execution of corporate plans, including product recalls. In order to address their issues, they implemented a task management solution. The results were immediate.
“We immediately saw an increase in our execution rate, in major initiatives. We were running in the 65 – 70 percent ranges. Within a month after going-live, we were at a 90-95 percent measurements in compliance,” said a Hannaford Business Relationship Manager, “[Also] our shrink in year one was 20 basis points below the year prior. Year after year, and we’ve had this for nine years, so far we’ve seen a 10 basis point improvement.”
In one particular case of store execution, Hannaford was able to see an increase to 100 percent compliance for Class 1 Product Recalls, and the time taken to complete them dropped from 5 days to 2 hours.
Another retailer who decided it was prudent to implement a task management solution was Vera Bradley. One of their primary goals was to reduce emails going to and coming from the store.
“We found that stores were getting emails from multiple departments,” said Sara Lauer, Director of Multi-Channel Operations. “Our store teams were being asked to go off the floor and answer multiple emails throughout various times of the day. And we had no visibility into what was being said and what stores were being told to do. It was really hard for stores to mine through all that communication. Managers were taking 1-2 hours a day just to observe email. And they were also asked to participate in conference calls at various times of the day.”
Upon implementing the solution, Vera Bradley saw rapid benefits. These included:
- Increase in completion rate from 40 percent to 95 percent
- 15 hours per week given back to stores to serve customers
- 95 percent reduction in email volume
You can hear more from Sara in the video below where she dives further in to why Vera Bradley chose Reflexis Task Manager™ to improve their customer satisfaction and task completion. Watch below:
Other Blogs in the series: Blog #1.