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Retail Store Operations: Execution and Excellence

Store ManagerWhen was the last time you went to a retail shop? Did you notice your shopping experience was extensively planned? From the shop window disposition that made you go in, to the items you saw, from the service you received as you came in to the experience till you paid and left. Everything was thoroughly thought out and readily at your disposal.  This is what we call Retail Operations.

Retail operations is a field that studies all mechanisms to keep the store functioning well. It includes a broad spectrum of activities, from people management to the supply chain, store layout, cash operations, physical inventory, master data management, offers and pricing etc.

Most of these operations are basically executed using the Commerce system that retailers use in the stores and back office. Therefore, achieving excellence in daily store operations will thus be directly proportional to the system that the business relies on.

If we dive a bit further into store operations and try to extract the main priorities of each of them, we will see that we need to divide these priorities by the different retail profiles we may find; the perspective of retail owners, store managers or sales associates. We may find others, depending on the nature and size of the business, but we will focus on these three profiles in this blog post. In any case, you can still deeply explore this term and how to achieve operational excellence by attending this week’s webinar.

1.     Retail Operations from the perspective of retail business owners

What do retailers, understood as the business owners, care about? Strategy is the first pillar that comes to mind. Not just the execution of today’s priorities, but the vision of how the future will be for the business, to ensure we are prepared for all the changes they may imply. For example, the commerce platform that retailers use need to support the business growth retailers expect for the mid to long term. Tools that will help them grow fast, at the same pace as their strategy plan. Tools that enable fast and riskless rollouts will be  crucial to success in the plan execution, like the Copy Store/Terminal functionality of Openbravo.

When it comes to deployment or hardware compatibility, the commerce solution becomes equally important, as hardware is an important part of the budget in retail implementation projects. Hence, many of our clients require a solutions that fit their current hardware requirements, as they don’t plant to invest in a hardware solution replacement in the short-term.

In terms of execution, I remember a concern that is common to many retailers I have interviewed in the requirements gathering stage, when the project starts, or just in the prospecting stage; that is, fraud detection and prevention. It is a concern that I have seen present in all retail projects. So we need to review all retail functionalities, decide which should be allowed by which profile and  which  will need a supervisor’s approval  to proceed with it. To give you a few examples: delete ticket is often a sensitive operation that should not be permitted unless approved, or re-printing a ticket, approving cash differences when cashing up, allowing a return, etc. There are many, and that’s why Openbravo offers Approvals in almost all features in Web POS, so retailers decide which are allowed and when approval will be required in an attempt to prevent fraud.

The other classic method of detecting fraud is “surprise” physical inventory. So by procedure, everyday at the store closure, staff need to count the stock of certain products, and they can change day after day. Here, it has been very helpful to empower the store crew with the mobile physical inventory functionality, so they can execute this task fast and efficiently.

Approvals OB POS

Then, retailers can view the results in a centralized way from the back office, where they will see all the indicators together in the same place, and most importantly, in real time. This is especially interesting when having several stores. If you need to handle daily synchronizations to upload sales, or products, promotions etc. you need to seriously think about investing in a new platform to get rid of those troubles that are due to an old architecture. Openbravo can help you with that, with a cloud single repository, where a change in  price will be delivered to all stores in seconds.

2. Achieving excellence from store managers

Store managers are the ones on the shop floor day after day, and their priorities or needs can be slightly different from the ones above. We can say they are much more operational, for example, they need to  efficiently handle people management or daily store operations like opening, closure or cash management. In big stores, where there is a high number of terminals and sessions by terminal, it can be difficult to manage unless the commerce solution offers a unified view to accurately control who opened a terminal or the cash position at its closure. Openbravo’s module of Terminal Sessions Management can be a good tool in these scenarios, where all terminals and sessions in each terminal are monitored in real time.

Another frequent demand from store managers is to have certain autonomy from headquarters. I must say that I have seen retailers that do not want to allow this in their stores, sometimes abusing  of their excess  power. My personal opinion is that I have seen stores performing better with a bit of autonomy in certain business processes, otherwise, headquarters approval can be a bottleneck and a clear negative point for achieving excellence in the stores, where changes need to be done rapidly to respond to demanding customers. I’m thinking of being able to correct a price that is incorrect, block a user that we have seen doing something fraudulent, or updating the stock of products that are not accurate in the system. Openbravo offers a great solution for these retailers, allowing them to access  the back office where all the data is centralized and can be restricted by users or roles, giving them access and rights to exactly what we want. And enabling auditory to be able to track down any changes made.

3. Priorities for sales associates

Sales associates are the last profile we are analysing today. We consider them an important part of the purchase decision making process, as customers let associates influence them while deciding which product to buy. Empower then your sales associates with tools that will help them provide a rich customer experience, like rich product engines by product characteristics or stock visibility to offer flexible options to save-the-sale when there is no stock in the store. Moreover, as associates normally work  by commission, it will be important that the commerce solution allows them to annotate their sales to differentiate them from cashiers or other associates.

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There are many other aspects to pay attention to when it comes to executing daily store operations with excellence, we just shared some of the aspects we have seen project after project, retailer after retailer. If you would like to go deeper on this, attend our webinar on Thursday, May 7. And please, don’t forget to share your comments with us!

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