How Changing Customer Expectations Will Make Your Retail Operations More Complex

Not long ago, I saw a tweet that said, essentially: People aren’t sad that they don’t have to go directly to artisans to buy goods, so they shouldn’t be sad about in-store retail “going away” to be replaced by Amazon and e-commerce.

That sort of talk makes for a good sound bite, I guess, but it’s just not logical. Plenty of people still seek out craftsmen, bakers and farmers’ markets to learn about the products they want to buy. And we still rely on stores to learn about products – because a mobile phone screen just can’t give you the feeling of a fabric, the fit of a new pair of shoes or the scent of fresh-baked bread.

We know that store locations are more than just places to shop. They’re a part of a brand’s story, places where great customer experiences happen – and places people go to experience your products today, no matter which channels they buy from tomorrow. But if you want your stores to evolve with changing expectations, your stores have to offer great experiences.

A new report from Incisiv shows how providing those experiences will also change the way you plan and operate by revealing new challenges to store operations.Case in point: As more retailers add click & collect services for orders placed online or on mobile devices,. Even if your customers prefer buying online and picking up in-store, those moments when they walk through your doors or pull up to the pickup location are a chance to engage them and keep them coming back.

As you add those new fulfillment methods and in-store experiences that research shows your customers want, have you fully accounted for the number of new or different tasks those changes will require? From performing more mobile checkouts, to order picking for click & collect, to more frequent planogram resets, you’ll need to gauge the impact on store associates, budgets and overall business processes.

And there’s an additional factor to consider: With margins still razor-thin and labor markets still tight, the less friction in your store workplace, the better. You want to give customers a great in-store experience, and you need to maintain skilled, loyal and committed store associates. As their roles grow to encompass new tasks, Incisiv’s research found that store associates spend less than 30 percent of their time focused on customer sales and service – the rest of their time is spent on operational tasks. How can you change the balance so that your associates can get their jobs done well and spend more time focused on customers?

Read the new report from Incisiv for more details on how the changing role of the store will continue to impact retailers. And get a retailer’s perspective on store operations by joining our June 24 live webinar with Kari Harkins, senior director of store operations at DSW, Gaurav Pant of Incisiv and Ashley Barey of JDA Software.

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