C&A Operational Efficiency

Interview: How C&A is Boosting Operational Efficiency in its Network

05 July 2021

Customer success story | Retail

During a webinar on "Boosting operational efficiency in stores" organized in partnership with the Hub Institut on June 3, 2021, Sébastien Jan, C&A's Sales Director, shared with us how the brand has taken up this challenge in its network. 

sebastien-jan-c-and-a

Sébastien Jan has been Sales Director of C&A France since 2019, leading a network of 140 stores. Sébastien previously held several management positions at Carrefour, where he began his career in 1996. He was Director of Textile & Home flows and procurement in France and also Operational Director of Carrefour hypermarkets in Italy.

 

How did the reopening of the stores go at the end of May and what are the lessons learned?

Sébastien Jan: We had a very good reopening with customers who were happy to be there and to be able to consume again after the last lockdown, which was emotionally tough from a consumer point of view. The stores were attractive to consumers, partly because we had had time to prepare them, but also thanks to the employees who were highly motivated and glad to come to work. As a result, sales since the reopening have increased by +80%. Indicators such as the number of items per basket or the average basket are also increasing rapidly, which makes sense with the demand we’ve seen.

 

What is your assessment of the pandemic on your brands? 

Since the first lockdown, it is indeed possible to notice a shift to a more eco-conscious form of consumption. At C&A, we have also seen a significant increase in sales of children's clothing. This has led us to modify the customer experience in our stores to adapt to this trend and improve customer satisfaction. On the other hand, the proportion of men's sales has fallen sharply, especially for formal clothing, due to remote working.

"Working under constraints has forced us to be much more efficient."

 

What are the major changes in the way you manage your store networks? What are the elements that have changed in the long term

To cope with the pandemic, we have rethought the way we run our network. Firstly, we have learned to work extremely closely with our frontline teams. This was crucial for a success of reopening. Moreover, working under constraints has forced us to be much more efficient, and from this point of view, YOOBIC has made our tasks much easier. We have a greater need to instantly and dynamically control what is happening in the network. This is especially true when extremely rigorous and often changing sanitary standards have to be respected. It is essential to have visibility into what is happening on the network, especially when the network is large. YOOBIC has helped us considerably.

 

Faced with the need to improve the operational efficiency of stores, what are the main levers?

First of all, an important lever of operational efficiency is the transversality that the use of YOOBIC brings, with a large number of users (140 stores, 9 administrators, 17 managers). All our points of sale are equipped with tablets and smartphones, to allow the optimal use of the tool. 

The first use of YOOBIC at C&A is for visual merchandising as it is obviously fundamental in our business and thus we use YOOBIC to guarantee the perfect execution. Moreover, we aim for excellence and YOOBIC brings us real added value.

"Through YOOBIC everything is conveyed, shared or stored"

But there are also many other departments that use it, such as Organization and Methods, Safety, Construction and Maintenance. Through YOOBIC everything is conveyed, shared or stored, whether we are talking about procedures, information, photos or missions around the need to identify materials or equipment stocks. 

We also use YOOBIC with our regional managers who use their checklists to verify the compliance of stores with C&A's standards in order to ensure the consistency of the brand image. Today, when we manage today to guarantee these standards in a dynamic and demonstrable way, it is thanks to YOOBIC. 

YOOBIC allowed us to harmonize the standards of our brand because it is difficult, when you have to manage a network of more than 100 stores, to be everywhere. Today, they are standardized thanks to extremely simple and digital checklists. Finally, this allows us to have a live and dynamic view of all these standards on the subjects we want to address.

" We have entered a new era in the field of training."

At C&A, we have also taken the decision to go a little further with the training part of the mobile learning solution proposed by YOOBIC.

We use it to breathe new life into the way we train people, we have redesigned training to make it more fun. We have developed micro-learning modules around extremely basic subjects that are very tangible and easy for all the frontline teams to understand. The format is a three-minute video, available to everyone, which allows all the information about the network to be broadcast live. The big advantage that we didn't have before and that YOOBIC brings us is the ability to measure in real-time the absorption of these courses by the frontline teams (which teams and stores have seen the modules, how often they are completed etc). These indicators are extremely important for the teams to increase their skills around many subjects.

Thanks to YOOBIC, we have finally entered a new era in the field of training. We have truly created agility and communication within our network. 

"We bring an extremely modern and very intuitive solution to our employees."

 

How did YOOBIC help you to improve the operational efficiency in your stores?

I believe that one factor in the improvement of our operational efficiency is the digitalization of our activity in the sense that we bring an extremely modern and very intuitive solution to our employees. This allows them to have the feeling of evolving in a company that adapts to its time. YOOBIC is perfectly in line with this perspective since this period of opening and closing has pushed many brands, C&A being one of them, to develop a number of new online services or generally become more omnichannel. In this context, YOOBIC has helped the company move towards a more modern vision. 

"These are the standards that make our brand and, by harmonizing them, YOOBIC answers a fundamental need. "

Moreover, I want to highlight 3 benefits of operational excellence through which YOOBIC has created agility within our company:

First of all, by providing a dynamic and instantaneous vision on the network, which is fundamental and useful at all levels of the company. We are more agile because we can now assess the performance of our stores immediately, thanks to different checklists, on extremely different and very targeted topics. We have also harmonized the store audit procedures to guarantee the brand standards which are fundamental. Indeed, these are the standards that make our brand and, by harmonizing them, YOOBIC answers a fundamental need. 

A second advantage of YOOBIC is having enhanced communication. Exchanges have been facilitated between the regional manager and the store managers, notably through action plans implemented following visits. Ultimately, this allows us to increase the skill of our teams and the quality of our stores. We have also reached a milestone in terms of communication and the way in which training is distributed throughout our network. Indeed, we control distribution extremely well and therefore its adoption by the network teams, which allows us to be much more productive because we are able to see and understand very quickly where training should be addressed and how. 

Finally, the way YOOBIC allows us to animate and stimulate the network is very beneficial. We were able to create an internal emulation around the commercial challenges launched and on which we communicate thanks to YOOBIC. The challenges were extremely competitive, we are salesmen and therefore to stimulate our teams, we organized challenges and events around the season, and that gave incredible results. To oversee these challenges, YOOBIC allowed us to communicate and to have an instant and dynamic vision of what results we were getting.

 

How is employee engagement and training a key element of operational excellence?

The commitment of our teams is crucial, especially in this context of great uncertainty with the closing and reopening of many stores. At C&A, a vital issue with the implementation of the lockdowns has been to maintain or at least manage the commitment of our teams, especially during periods of closure. After all, commitment is about attachment to the brand, so it is an indicator that must be monitored and to which we have paid close attention. 

 

What are the next major challenges for operational efficiency in stores? What are the main levers to activate?

One of the major challenges we face is the continued development of omnichannel. In the broadest sense, this is because today we realize more and more that each customer is unique and that they navigate between online, offline and multiple communication channels. 

At C&A, we have developed a partnership with Géant Casino to develop shop-in-shops, another type of point of sale, which we are also monitoring with YOOBIC. To do this, customer knowledge is obviously fundamental, and we must focus on getting to know our customers better and better, because that's how we'll win the battle. 

Finally, we must continue to digitize our stores and continue to develop the various services we have put in place, such as personal shopping in Boulogne and our second-hand site OC&AZ, in order to be on top of the eco-responsibility trends emerging.


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