Technology for Retail Stores: How to Avoid Tool Overload

Technology for Retail Stores: How to Avoid Tool Overload

Sep 8, 2022 2:34:01 PM

Employee experience | Retail | Marketoonist

Technology for retail stores has boomed in the last decade, further accelerated by the pandemic. Following the progressive digitization of the retail customer experience, retailers recognized the convenience of digitizing back office processes, too. This means equipping store teams with electronic gadgets and gizmos to make their everyday tasks simpler and more efficient.

Technology for Retail Stores Cartoon

Unfortunately, the amount of different retail tools on offer creates tech fatigue: now employees are juggling too many different apps and platforms. They’re overloaded with in-store technology, and yet a 2022 survey shows that half of frontline employees still wish for additional tools which would make their jobs easier. 

Think about that: they have more tools available than ever before, but store teams still don’t feel supported enough in their work by these tools.

This shows that the current approach to technology for retail stores, i.e. overloading employees with a plethora of different tools, isn’t catering well to employees' needs.


The impact of retail tool overload

1) Reduced efficiency 

Having to jump from one tool to another to search for information wastes time that employees could be spending delivering amazing customer experiences. A report from Cornell University’s Ellis Idea Lab found that people were wasting 59 minutes of every working day switching between tools to find the right information, and 48% said they are making mistakes at work because they can’t keep track of what’s going on across all the different tools being used.

2) Slower onboarding 

It will take longer to bring new hires up to speed if they need to be trained on how to use a wide range of different apps and systems in order to do their jobs. This in turn puts more strain on the workloads of other team members and impacts the customer experience.

3) Higher IT costs

Using multiple tools is costly, both in terms of licensing costs and vendor management. Additionally, many retail technology solutions have overlapping features, which can complicate workflows and means you are paying for features you don’t use. The more tools you have, the more the costs add up.

4) Lack of visibility

Retailers who use a range of in-store technology have no consolidated visibility into business operations, as store data is scattered across a variety of systems. This makes it impossible to get the full picture of what is happening in stores and limits a retailer’s ability to be agile and strategize for the future.

5) Security concerns 

If employees don’t have efficient tools to use, they’ll resort to using tools they’re comfortable with in their personal lives, such as Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger. This gives way to security concerns, as apps like these make it easy to share information with people outside of the business, and employees will have company data on their personal devices even after they’ve left the company. It’s also likely that employees will use the same passwords for multiple personal apps, which makes hacking easier and puts confidential business information at risk.

To avoid these pitfalls, retailers need to revamp their approach to retail tools.


Steps to revamp technology for retail stores

1) Audit existing tools 

Every business has different needs, values, and ambitions and any tools used must be aligned with that vision. 

Make a list of all the tools your organization currently uses, what they do, who uses them, and how they contribute to the business vision. Identify which tools have overlapping features, and compare and eliminate tools that aren’t the most effective, are not widely used, or are unnecessary. 

As part of this process, talk to employees. Find out which tools they enjoy using, which features they think are the most helpful, and which features they don’t use. Remember that different teams will have different needs, so it’s important to collect opinions from a wide range of employees.

2) Consolidate and streamline

To maximize productivity, you need an all-in-one system of engagement that centralizes the most useful features in one platform. But with a variety of tools on the market, it’s important to choose the one that aligns best with your business needs. 

Here’s how to choose the best one for your retail business:

a) Start with the basics:

The most important features that you need in your retail tool kit include:

  • A retail task management app

This is the tool most desired by frontline teams in order to make their jobs easier. Being able to work autonomously is important to 63% of workers, and a good task management tool enables them to do this with simplified task instructions, digitized checklists and real-time feedback.

  • A store communication tool

Having a strong workplace community is highly important to frontline retail workers, but 62% don’t feel well connected to their organization’s management and HQ. A streamlined communication tool keeps everyone in the loop with top-down, bottom-up and peer-to-peer communication capabilities.

  • A learning platform

64% of employees want opportunities for career growth within the organization but 31% don’t receive regular training to develop their skills. An accessible learning platform embeds learning into the organizational culture and makes progression more achievable.

The ideal solution will combine these tools into one digital workplace platform to avoid clutter. Centralizing these capabilities into one solution will also enhance visibility as you’ll have consolidated dashboards of sales, learning, operations, and communication data to give HQ real-time actionable insights.

b) Choose a tool that’s adapted to the realities of frontline retail:

Typical workplace tools are designed for the office and don't work for frontline retail teams. Choose a tool designed specifically for frontline employees to ensure adoption. How will you know if a tool is truly frontline employee focused? Look out for these features:

  • Mobile-first tools are the most accessible and easy-to-use solution for frontline employees who are always on their feet and jumping from task to task. 
  • Tools that connect the frontline to HQ teams and to their peers and help organizations build a community and sense of belonging.
  • Microlearning capabilities that make continuous learning and development possible for busy store teams without disrupting their flow of work.
  • Task management software that boosts productivity, provides frontline support and creates a feedback loop enabling HQ to drive operational excellence across stores. 
  • An application that gives HQ real-time visibility into what’s happening in stores. 

c) Ask around

Don’t just conform to trends - assess tools for yourself. Map out the capabilities that are most important to your business and compare how the features of the different tools meet your needs. Read reviews and recommendations from trusted technology websites such as G2 and Capterra and find out what existing customers think of different providers: 

  • Has the tool produced tangible results for the business? 
  • Does the provider have a good customer support team to assist with implementation and beyond?
  • Did teams need much training to use it?

Choose intuitive tools that don’t require extensive training - there’s no point investing in great features if employees don’t know how to use them and will require extensive training to do so.

3) Integrate and center the attention

Sometimes existing tools are heavily embedded in the structure of the organization, so if you can't replace every separate tool, work on integrating existing tools with the new all-in-one solution.

Choosing an all-in-one digital workplace tool with integration capabilities means that frontline retail teams have a frictionless journey as they have a one-stop shop for everything they need throughout their working day, without needing to switch between tools or log in multiple times. 

Frontline employee empowerment is reliant on having the right tool available. The winning solution will: 

  • Connect frontline teams as a community
  • Provide learning and development opportunities
  • Increase productivity and drive operational excellence
  • Provide HQ with real-time visibility into stores

This in turn will enable retailers to deliver the employee experience that store employees crave and the customer experience the buyers expect.

Retailers including Levi's, Aeropostale, Boots, Timberland, Lacoste, and Johnston & Murphy trust YOOBIC’s AI-powered all-in-one workplace solution to engage their frontline teams. To find out why and see it in action, book a demo!