Have you ever visited a store (obviously not the one you visit frequently) & got really confused where to find what you are looking for? I have, & I am sure most of you will agree. While these days management focuses more on product, service offering, marketing, store location & expansion, store level operations has become the forgotten cousin of retailing. Delivering a satisfying experience to your shoppers can lead to repeat visits, improved profitability & in the longer run it can create a very loyal customer base. On the other hand one negative experience can cost you a fortune in today's connected economy, where people proactively share their experiences on social networks.
Improving store-level operations, therefore, often yields a high return on investment, driving sales growth in double digits with minimal incremental capital deployment. Consistent execution creates a sense of familiarity & positively influences brand perception in the mind of shoppers.
As a retail operations professional how will you insure that all of your stores are conforming to the set standards? Answers lie in unannounced visits to the stores & asking yourself a few basic questions
Do you have in store signage to guide customers to find the product & services they are looking for?
Is the store clean and does it conform to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) set for housekeeping?
Are your trial rooms, service kiosks, wash rooms etc. clean?
Are your sales associates proactive in helping customers & do they have right product knowledge & soft skills?
Are the products displayed properly?
Are your aisles free for navigation?
Do you see satisfied shoppers on the floor?
Are your experiences consistent in all of your stores?
If you get a "NO" as an answer for any of the questions above, you have reasons to worry. You can take a three pronged approach to make your in store shopper experience consistent.
Identify all the activities performed in the store: Spend time in the store & list out all the activities performed by your store team from housekeeping and stock count to visual merchandising.
Check whether you already have SOPs defined for all the routine activities; if not then get it done as soon as possible.
Establish a performance measurement system for all activities with regular & defined cycles.
Keep visiting stores unannounced & make sure to rate every function in the store on agreed upon goals. Within a span of a few months, in store experience will be consistent through the stores & you will see happy shoppers all around.