Retail Store Operations: Execution and Excellence
The store still has a bright future, but no one can deny that the current reality is a lot tougher and the future less predictable than in the recent past. So it is more important than ever for retailers to ensure optimized retail store operations, which means adopting practices and technologies designed to achieve operational excellence.
Retail operations is the term used to describe all the activities that keep the store functioning well. It includes people management, supply chain, store layout, cash operations, physical inventory, master data management, promotions and pricing, and so on.
Operational excellence means achieving a sustainable competitive advantage through the optimization of retail operations. Put simply, operational excellence means being consistently better than the competition in organizing, optimizing and integrating the various tasks performed in a store.
How to achieve operational excellence in your retail store operations?
There is no standard formula for achieving operational excellence but there are some of common areas where all retailers can perform improvement actions.
Digitize time-consuming internal tasks
While most retailers have embraced IT in a big way, there are newer solutions that take efficiency and quality improvements to a whole new level by dramatically reducing manual and error-prone tasks.
For example, contactless payments systems speed up the payment process considerably, and do away with queues.
Another example is item-level RFID. One retailer that has made a big bet on item-level RFID is Decathlon, using Openbravo POS in more than 1,000 stores worldwide. Around 85% of Decathlon products now come with RFID tags, which are used to track products throughout the entire supply chain, from factories to the distribution centers and stores.
Once shipped to the store, products can be easily located using a handheld RFID reader, which enables staff to perform shelf inventories five times faster than with the former systems and technologies.
Automate key business processes
Many retailers are still running a collection of legacy systems designed for a particular function. They may not communicate well with other systems making it difficult to achieve end-to-end integration, which is essential if you are to fully automate your business processes. So, while you may have different programs to handle tasks like inventory control, filling out employee timesheets, invoicing, financial management and POS transactions, they do not communicate well with each other. You can improve efficiency, reduce errors and save costs by integrating and fully automating these processes.
Personalize customer experiences
Successful retailers always strive to create high-value, personalized interactions with customers. The first step towards achieving this goal is to understand the customer’s preferences and requirements. This is easy to do on your website of course, but not so easy to do with store visitors. Nevertheless, personalization is now of paramount importance if you want to keep customers loyal and ensure they keep visiting your stores.
Personalized experiences at the store means associates are able to access customer information like personal data and detailed purchasing history from any retail POS terminal. The adoption of a mobile POS solution will help to deliver personalized shopping experiences based on this data anywhere in the store.
Seamlessly integrate physical and digital worlds
As we know, omnichannel is all about making commerce frictionless across channels to deliver a unified customer experience. This is particularly important in areas like fulfillment and payments. If a customer buys an item online and wants it delivered in the store (Click and Collect), how frictionless is that process? And what about a return? Can that same item be returned in a store? And if it was bought in a store, can it be returned in a different store? Can customers access to inventory visibility from any channel? To enable stores support all these scenarios retailers must excel in their store inventory management capabilities and store fulfillment capabilities.
Optimize retail assortments and stock levels
Retailers do not make money by stockpiling inventory. The inventory has to sell, so when new product lines arrive, smart retailers ask pertinent questions such as “How many do we plan to sell?” “Can the store make money selling the product?”, and so on.
Having introduced a product, a retailer’s prime focus is to optimize the inventory; the ordering processes have to be streamlined by identifying the best order-quantity and they should be integrated with the sales forecast to eliminate stock-out and overstock situations. A good inventory management suite automates all these processes, boosting efficiency and reducing costs. Again, at the store level, an effective store inventory management is also essential.
Optimize the store workforce
Retailers need staff in their stores to do a wide variety of tasks: help customers, process POS transactions, handle new shipment arrivals, arrange merchandise and take inventory. Automated algorithmic-based labor scheduling tools can optimize staff at peak hours and ensure they remain at their productive best.
Do you want to learn how Openbravo can help improving your retail store operations?
Learn more about Openbravo Store, our software for retail stores, which is unified commerce-ready. Multi-store management, mobile POS, store inventory, store fulfillment and more. Full web solution, offline resistant, with no need of local store servers.