Why Visibility into Store Operations is a Must-Have for Retailers in 2021

01 April 2021

Operations | Retail

Visibility into store operations has always been hugely advantageous, but it’s no longer just a ‘nice to have’. In 2021, the success of physical retail depends on having a direct line of sight into everything going on in stores. 

But first, what exactly does it mean to have visibility into store operations? 

It means having a telescopic view into how every store is running without needing to be there in person. It also means having complete transparency into store processes, tasks and operational data in real-time. These processes, tasks and data could be store maintenance requests, implementing VM guidelines or POS data - anything that contributes to the successful upkeep of a store. 

Related: A Guide to Improving Retail Store Operations

Retail is reinventing itself, and the best way to ensure stores come along for the ride is to have a direct line of sight into how each one is operating. 

Here are 5 reasons why every retailer needs real-time visibility into store operations. 

 

1) Visibility makes stores consumer-centric

Consumer demand and behavior has been shifting at light speed over the last year. We’ve gone from panic-buying, to curbing non-essential spending, to anticipating the inevitable resurgence of brick and mortar retail. 

Stores are a goldmine of data about what customers are doing and what they want. And the people who know customers best are store teams. So visibility is how retailers strike gold. 

Real-time visibility into POS, loyalty card and even online review data paint a picture of how consumers are interacting with stores at any given time. This is critical because the retail stores of the future will be constantly evolving depending on what customers want and feel most comfortable with. 

And speaking of customer comfort, visibility into store operations is the only way to guarantee that stores are following COVID sanitation, social distancing and safety regulations to the letter. 

 

2) Visibility helps you give store teams the support they need 

There are far fewer retail employees today than there were a year ago. Analysts estimate it could take up to 4 years to recover the 22 million jobs lost during the pandemic, many of which were concentrated in retail.  

Today, retail employees have heavier workloads and more responsibilities than ever, from enforcing social distancing and keeping stores sanitized, to fulfilling orders and mastering new tech. 

Frontline employee stress is at an all-time high, so they need all the support they can get from area teams and HQ. 

Related download: 2021 State of the Frontline Employee Workplace Survey 

2021 State of the Frontline Employee Workplace Survey Download

Store operational data is a valuable indicator of which stores need support and exactly what they need. Comparing metrics like compliance and task completion between stores helps HQ and area teams understand the root cause of any problems. 

Often, this will be because pre-pandemic processes just aren’t keeping up with heavier store workloads and responsibilities. Other times, underperformance could be a result of a lack of training, or a store being understaffed. 

Related: 4 Ways to Improve Poor Store Performance

Whatever the issue, there’s no way to know how to fix it without taking a closer look at the data. 

Operational data helps area teams plan where to focus their limited time and resources- perhaps by prioritizing visits to underperforming stores or assigning targeted training courses. 

Related: 5 Common Problems with Store Visits and How to Fix Them

And with a bird’s eye view of store ops data across the entire network, HQ can make data-driven changes to processes, suppliers and more, so it’s easier for store teams to succeed. 

 

3) Without visibility, it’s impossible to track tangible progress

No two stores are the same. They could have completely different layouts, customer demographics and foot traffic levels. 

So, goals and targets should be tailored to each store. Otherwise, they’ll be demotivating or simply ignored. 

Without operational data, it's impossible to set achievable goals and track progress.

Using in-person visits to gather data and check up on store operational health wasn’t practical before the pandemic, and now it’s even less so. Without transparency, it’s impossible to track store progress. 

Not only is that bad for business, but it also makes the frontline employee experience unfulfilling. It’s tough to stay engaged without something to work towards. 

With visibility, area teams and store managers can set achievable goals and give store teams transparency into their own progress. When frontline employees have a better understanding of what they’re being measured on and they’re able to see their own progress, it motivates them to succeed by being active participants in their own development.

 

4) Visibility helps retailers achieve a better omnichannel experience 

The most successful retailers of 2020 were the ones who quickly integrated stores into their omnichannel customer journey. Target, for example, increased sales by almost 25% in Q2 2020 after switching to fulfilling over three quarters of online orders in-store. 

The role stores take on in the omnichannel shopping experience will differ widely between retailers. 

For some retailers, stores will be immersive brand experience centers that carry no stock. For other retailers, stores will be convenient fulfilment centers. And for others, stores will be a mixture of the two. 

But whatever form it takes, the store is its own channel. 

To optimize the customer journey across channels, retailers need to be constantly taking in and analyzing vast amounts of operational data. Stores are no different. 

To integrate stores into omnichannel, retailers need to access store ops data as quickly as they would with online data. Seamless integration is impossible to achieve unless there’s a direct line of sight into how each store is operating. 

 

5) Visibility helps retailers be more agile 

Agility was one of 2020’s biggest buzzwords, and it’s no surprise why. 

An agile retailer reacts to what consumers want. An agile retailer innovates more quickly, navigates obstacles more effectively and stays one step ahead of competitors. That was the recipe for success in 2020, and it still is in 2021. 

But retailers have a long way to go before they truly master it. 

91% of retailers think agility is critical to their future, but only 34% would consider themselves very or extremely agile, according to an autumn 2020 survey. 

Even with countries still in lockdown, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Physical retail will be having a resurgence, and consumer behavior will rapidly change as a result. The time to achieve agility across the store network was yesterday.

Successful retailers can quickly react to in-store consumer behavior as it happens. And for that, they need complete transparency into how every store is operating so they can shift and even completely overhaul everything with just days notice. 

There simply won’t be a return to normal for retail as we knew it pre-pandemic. 

Stores of the future will take form through a combination of consumer preferences, public safety and retailers’ innovation. The most agile retailers will be the first to figure out what that means for their stores, implement those changes and start seeing success ASAP. 

 

The stakes are high for retailers this year, and there’s no room for guesswork and error when it comes to deciding what works and what doesn’t in-store. Visibility into store operations transforms decisions from educated guesses to data-driven decisions. 

And in 2021, isn't that what retail is all about?

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How can you achieve complete visibility into store ops when area teams can’t be everywhere at once? With the right tech. YOOBIC’s digital workplace digitizes your store operations, so you can measure store performance in real-time. See how it works here: 

YOOBIC - Frontline Digital Workplace - Platform Overview (1)

 

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