6 Reasons to Start Using Remote Retail Store Visits Post COVID-19

28 July 2020

Store visits & audits

As stores and restaurants continue to reopen all over the world, extraordinary in-person customer experiences are still at a premium. 

As a result, customer experience matters more than ever before. There are fewer chances to get it right, and far more risks involved.  

Protecting customer and employee health in-store is paramount. But the in-store experience has to be perfect, and store teams need to be more productive - 20-30% more productive, according to McKinsey, to offset the rapid shift away from brick and mortar during lockdown.

That's a lot of pressure on frontline employees, and a lot of different directions they're being pulled in.  

Retail and hospitality companies must embrace an agile way of managing operations remotely, that's far less reliant on person to person contact.

That's where remote retail store visits and audits come in.

Remote store visits improve employee performance, safeguard health and make retail and hospitality organizations more agile. 

Here are 6 reasons why.

 

1) Remote store visits are safer for everyone

Fewer in-person visits mean fewer opportunities to spread COVID-19.

Even when every possible precaution is taken, in-person interactions with managers, employees and even customers will always pose a risk.

Better health and safety ultimately means a better brand reputation.

And as consumers continue to venture back into stores and restaurants, the extent to which businesses visibly and consistently protect their health and safety is understandably more important to them than anything else. 

61% of consumers ranked health and safety as their biggest priority when shopping in-store in a June 2020 survey, and 59% ranked cleanliness as their top priority when ordering food in a restaurant.

Remote visits keep everyone safer without compromising on upholding standards.

Remote visits can actually improve compliance with health and safety regulations when area manager travel is discouraged or banned, since mandatory health and safety audits can be now done virtually.

 

2) Remote store visits give frontline employees the coaching they need to delight customers 

35% of consumers surveyed about their post COVID-19 shopping preferences said that an enjoyable shopping experience would make them more likely to return.

And when it's not feasible for area managers to visit every location, remote store visits are the best way to help teams consistently achieve the experience customers are looking for.

Store visits should be more than just a box-ticking exercise.

They're an invaluable opportunity for the area manager to coach and train staff. This is something that employees need from area managers even more post COVID-19.

Area managers have seen it all, and the expertise and best practices they share during visits helps store teams be more autonomous. Less time and resources are required for better performance. 

Related Download: The Ultimate Guide to Retail Store Visits 

 

3) Remote store visits boost sales

Imagine a retailer's highest selling SKU since reopening is a new line of branded face masks. 

But after getting the green light to do an in-person store visit, regional managers discover the face masks aren't displayed in 20% of stores.

That's a lot of lost revenue.  

Poor in-store execution can really damage sales in a time when every cent counts.

Remote store visits are one of the best ways for area managers to gain complete visibility into how stores are executing on guidelines that ultimately make or break sales - when they can't be there in-person.

 

4) Remote store visits create accountability

Without frequent store visits, frontline teams don't have their progress evaluated or tracked in the same way as they did before.

Measuring progress creates transparency, boosts motivation and holds individuals and teams responsible for the important work they've done. 

Remote store visits create accountability for store and general managers as well as frontline employees in each location. 

Remote visits uncover in-store execution that isn't what it should be, and hold teams accountable to improving through targeted action plans and trainings.

And when store teams are doing an outstanding job and deserve praise and recognition, remote visits uncover success so it can be shared and replicated across every location.

Remote visits hold area managers accountable for the performance of locations within their territory, and for improving that performance through coaching. 

And finally, remote store visits also create accountability for locations that could be under visited to begin with, like franchises. By completing self-evaluations with the area manager's help, franchises can track their progress over time and feel a greater sense of progress and inclusion.

 

5) Remote store visits save time and cut costs

Doing more with less has become the industry's status quo.

As of June 2020, 1.9 million American retail workers were unemployed.

Simply put, there are fewer retail and hospitality employees (including area managers) to go around, with even bigger workloads.

 

If retailers discover that they can do more with less, we may see a permanent decline in the total number of retail workers,” - Forrester analyst Sucharita Kodali

 

Remote store visits save area managers time that they'd usually spend traveling, which can then be put towards higher value activities like remotely coaching store teams.

Sure, spending a few hours per week sitting in traffic on the way to a store visit might not seem like much for a few area managers.

But these hours really start to add up when you break it down: 

 

Number of area managers  Hours spent per manager per week traveling to and from store visits  Total hours saved per week with remote visits  Total hours saved per month with remote visits 
25 5 125 500

 

500 hours is a lot of time, and time is money when there are fewer staff to go around. 

And because remote visits give area managers visibility into store performance without having to visit in-person, they can make the most of their extremely limited time by only visiting the locations that need their help the most.

Remote store visits cut costs as well. With all the hours area managers spend on the road comes gas, phone and hotel bills too.

These savings can be allocated to other areas of the business that improve customer experience, safeguard wellbeing and improve frontline employee performance. 

 

6) Remote store visits future-proof your business

If we've learned one thing over the last few months, it's that the crisis isn't over yet.

The sooner organizations can shift to managing store operations remotely, the more agile they'll be.

And the most agile organizations are the ones more likely to survive and thrive for as long as COVID-19 persists.

There are two possible scenarios that retail and hospitality companies will face for the rest of 2020, and remote store visits are advantageous for both.

In the case of another lockdown or periodic lockdowns, it's best to have remote store visits up and running ASAP so everyone gets comfortable with doing things remotely. If area manager travel is banned again, brand standards and customer experience won't slip as a result. 

In the best case scenario, another lockdown doesn't materialize and foot traffic steadily increases. Here, remote store visits help store teams consistently be at the top of their game - even when things start getting busier and there's fewer employees to help.

In either scenario, remote visits keep area managers, employees and customers safer while empowering organizations to manage operations and staff remotely.

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Just because travel is limited doesn't mean an area manager's valuable coaching and expertise has to go to waste.

With YOOBIC's remote store visit tool, area managers can focus on empowering store teams to perform their best - all from the safety and comfort of home. 

 

Remote store visit tool YOOBIC

 

Chat and live video make remote store visits as quick and easy as being there in-person.

Area managers can assign action plans and even targeted trainings with quizzes to help store teams improve afterwards.

It's easy to prepare for the next visit, whether done in-person or remotely, with time-saving visit reports that are standardized and automatically generated.

See how YOOBIC can be your area managers' new pocket superhero and help your organization be more agile. Get your personalized demo! 

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