How Retail Execution Shapes Customer Experience
A long time before that beautifully packaged widget finds its way to a shelf in your nearest MegaGiantMart, some very smart people worked hard to coordinate a plan for how it should look, how many stores it will be sent to, where it should be placed in the aisle, and how it’s going to be advertised so customers know to look for it, and where they can find it.
Every day, there’s an intricately choreographed dance taking place between manufacturers, logistics & shipping companies, retailers, brokers or third-party labor companies – working together to get those widgets and whatsits to the shelf. What’s the old adage? “It takes a village to make a sale?” Well, something to that effect.
This whirlwind of planning and activity is designed to achieve the very important goal of getting customers to find that widget on the shelf and whisk it away in their carts to purchase. One way to help this process along … is through great retail execution.
Related: What IS Retail Execution, Anyway?
Why is Retail Execution Important?
While headlines continue to pop up almost daily warning of the retail apocalypse – the slow demise of long-established brands, and the shuttering of more brick and mortar retailers – it might seem like any focus on retail execution should give way to e-commerce efforts, but it would be a mistake to ignore in-store experience or put it on a back-burner. A very costly mistake, at that.
The trend of online shopping continues to grow, as it provides an increased level of convenience for shoppers, but it should be noted there are things online shopping just hasn’t found a way to perfect: the human side of everything, the emotion, the tactile and visceral experience that shoppers crave. And don’t forget impulse shopping – while it’s totally possible to impulse shop online (our random, late-night amazon order histories are proof of that) it really doesn’t scratch the same “retail therapy” itch as being able to add some instant gratification to your trip.
A recent study showed that customers are spending more money per visit in-store than they do online. What this means to retail? With all the big, scary talk about brick and mortar retailers shuttering their stores, the failure to plan or implement retail execution can cost you millions, maybe even billions in “lost opportunity” dollars.
Retail today requires vigilance to ensure your product is ALWAYS available at shelf and promoted in-store so your items can be easily spotted among all the other products competing for customers’ attention. Imagine if a customer intended to buy your product, but it’s not on the shelf when they’re shopping for it. If they’re not in a hurry for it, they may wait to see if it’s in stock on their next trip to the store. But it’s more likely they’ll try a similar item from a competitor’s brand. What if they start to like that other brand better, or find a promotion enticing them to buy it again? You stand to lose the lifetime value you would have earned from that customer. Brand loyalty is much harder to secure in today’s marketplace, so it’s critical that your product is in the right place at the right time. You can’t afford to be complacent about retaining the customers you’ve fought so hard to win.
Tackle Consistency Through Better Retail Execution
Providing consistency can be a challenge when you’re managing multiple locations, but it’s one of the most important things you can do to shape the customer experience. Retailers strive for their stores to be consistent across the country, so that every location is instantly recognizable, whether customers are shopping at their home store in Minnesota or popping into a store in Florida while on vacation. The experience, selection and layout should be familiar enough so that they can find what they need with minimal disruption to their busy schedules. Making a push for consistency has become a fundamental business strategy in the retail execution toolbox. Often, the key to that kind of consistency is through compliance. Each store manager, worker and third-party rep should be communicating and working in tandem to deliver on promotions, displays and special offers secured by suppliers with retailers.
Consistency is also driven by clearly defining your company standards – outlining for your teams what signing, merchandise displays and shelf allocation should look like for each store. Doing so makes it easy for teams to toe the company line – and ensuring that Store #560 looks as good as Store #5. The fact is, whether a customer has a positive or a negative experience in one of your stores, it impacts their perception of your brand. It becomes the expectation. (Remember, this applies to your online presence, as well – it’s important to make sure your online offerings, pricing and returns processes all work seamlessly with your in-store systems and policies.)
Ditch the Inefficiencies
Similar to the death of a thousand paper cuts, retail can suffer something we call “death by disconnected systems,” and it exists in more companies and stores than it should in 2019. When workers have to clock in one place, then log into their email to find instruction or responses, then use a separate app to share files or photos, and so on… it’s frustrating and completely inefficient. Born to drive retail execution, Movista has built a full-featured workforce management platform that specifically addresses the pains and opportunities faced by retailers, their suppliers and 3rd-party service providers. We save retail service teams from that slow death by replacing or integrating multiple disparate processes and systems into ONE mobile-first platform. When you minimize the amount of time reps and store associates spend on admin tasks and speed up their time to complete projects, you create space for them to guide shoppers on their journey through the store and to become the representatives you want and need for your company.
Retail Execution, Not Exasperation
In an ideal world, retail should be like the best magic trick - seamless, effortless, efficient and a delight for your audience. When it’s working well, customers shouldn’t notice retail execution, but finding and buying ordinary, everyday items should make customers feel (even if subconsciously) like they just won a treasure hunt or found the golden ticket. When it’s done well, retail execution reduces exasperation for customers and teams alike.