Do you, the retailer, suffer from chronic pain? Organizational, operational and systemic pain? This pain hurts your sales, increases your costs and damages your brand. It hurts you financially, slows you down operationally, puts your business at risk. Do you need relief?  Read on.

Pain point #1: Relying on “theory”.

Theory is what head office envisions, in terms of merchandising initiatives and operational programs, to produce a certain outcome such as higher sales, lower costs and/or higher customer satisfaction. Theory is the new signage that marketing has developed, training that “ought to be delivered” and operations/merchandising/loss prevention standards that “need to be followed”. Theory is the combination of all those things that retail brands work hard, and spend considerable time and money, to develop.

Practice is what actually happens at store level. In practice, signage is not always put up, staff is not always trained and seasonal programs are not always executed consistently and on time.

The relief: in-store execution.

In-store execution reconciles the theory with the practice. In-store execution makes it happen. With it, you have a store environment that delivers on the brand’s vision and promise. Without it, you have wishful thinking and a false sense of security.

Pain point #2: Not “calibrating” in-store programs.

In-store programs fail to reach their full potential if they are launched before they are implementation and field-ready.

The relief: calibration.

There are two facets of calibration: calibrating the form and calibrating the team.

Calibrating the form entails selecting, grouping and ordering what goes on the form (the collection of store and program standards). Form items should be sufficiently clear and detailed while avoiding repetition. The form should provide a good coverage of all areas of interest and be laid out in such a manner as to optimize the district manager’s time doing the visit. While a lot of this can be done at head office, there is simply no substitute for “hands-on” time in the field. Giving a select group of district managers access to the form, even if unfinished, allows head office to fine tune and calibrate the form with real-world feedback. It is often at this stage that unclear copy, repetitive standards or inadequate ordering are noted and addressed.

Calibrating the team is a type of audit-related training that ensures all standards are evaluated using a consistent and fair scale. While the judgment of a district manager is tremendously important to the success of the store program, consistency in the rating and grading are equally important. Calibrating the team entails giving operations personnel a shared understanding of the operating standards and how to rate and handle deficiencies.

Pain point #3: Sending district managers to stores to record “deficiencies” but not actually addressing them.

Recording deficiencies is not an end in itself. In fact, it can be both expensive and futile unless deficiencies are addressed. The point is not to record deficiencies but to close the loop on execution so deficiencies are assigned and addressed.

The relief: the action plan.

The action plan is an opportunity to apply corrective actions to problem areas. It designates an individual responsible for rectifying each problem (anything deemed substandard or non-compliant by the district manager during the audit) and a target date for resolution. By doing this, the action plan fosters ownership and accountability at store level.

At its core, the action plan is a vehicle for improvement. Success in retail hinges largely on execution. The action plan is, by design, execution.

If each problem area is an ailment, the action plan is the cure. Don’t leave the store without one!

Pain point #4: Putting up with inefficient processes that compromise your growth plans.

Growth is hard, sometimes risky, often costly. It stresses your processes, tools and teams. Retailers who do not retool end up stagnating, or worse, collapsing. Momentum grows companies; it can also send them on a tail spin and destroy them.

The relief: retool and automate.

To successfully grow from 100 to 500 stores, 500 to 1,000 or 1,000 to 3,000 stores, growth-focused retailers must rethink…and retool.

Retailers who do commit to rethinking and retooling, end up breaking the glass ceiling, this artificial barrier that has been holding them back. These retailers become national and international retail concepts.

Thankfully, cloud technologies have evened out the odds in the retail execution space. Putting the right processes in place is not for those retailers that can afford it but for those willing to make it happen. It is not a matter of affordability, it is a matter of resolve, of commitment to in-store execution.

So the 100-store retailer can operate like a 500-store retailer, efficiently and cost-effectively. The 500-store retailer can operate like a 1,000 store chain, control quality, rise above the paperwork and focus on what really matters like seasonal program execution, merchandising and in-store experience. The 1,000-store retailer can plan for the future, leverage automation to control quality and minimize risks, at scale.

The cloud, mobility and retail audit software help retailers and consumer packaged goods companies grow. These technologies cut costs and support strategic growth initiatives like merchandising promotions, in-store communication and operations.

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