Workforce engagement and empowerment have come to the forefront, especially as more retailers struggle to build up their store headcounts. Both retailers and their customers now expect associates to do more, do it better and accomplish it more quickly — but the reality is that they’re not always equipped to do so.
That’s why UNTUCKit is investing more in employee training, especially as it sets its sights on further expansion. Specifically, the direct-to-consumer (DTC) menswear brand has implemented YOOBIC across all of its stores. The digital workplace platform is poised to help store managers streamline employee training processes and help leadership create consistent experiences across the entire fleet.
UNTUCKit has focused on this goal for several years — an approach deemed internally as “Selling 2.0” — but YOOBIC will help “hone some of those skill sets that may need to be refined or elevated,” said Brent Paulsen, Managing Director and Head of Retail at UNTUCKit in an interview with Retail TouchPoints.
Paulsen, who has played a key role in the scaling of UNTUCKit’s brick-and-mortar business, is overseeing the optimization of the platform, which was rolled out in summer 2021. The retailer has seen extremely high levels of engagement, with half of the workforce “touching the platform” in some form daily. Paulsen previously spent 10 years at Bloomingdale’s, with half of his tenure spent managing the operational component of the department store’s outlet business. With that experience, Paulsen saw clearly what it takes for a brick-and-mortar business to grow. He took what he learned to UNTUCKit and ultimately helped expand the brand’s store count from two to more than 80 locations.
“The brick-and-mortar business is my realm, and my job is to ensure we’re delivering what the customer needs across our stores,” said Paulsen. “Anything to do with how we successfully operate comes through me in some way, shape or form, and my team are the ones that make it happen.”
The big thing he learned during his time at Bloomingdale’s that he applied to UNTUCKit? Rely on the operational strengths of your people to grow.
From a digital standpoint, UNTUCKit was “extremely proficient” in marketing and product development, Paulsen explained. “The retail component was another way for UNTUCKit to be visible and interact with customers, and essentially come to life in places where they were. We have found that to be successful — we grew quickly and continue to grow.”
UNTUCKit initially broke into brick-and-mortar in 2015 and has been lauded as one of the early DTC brands to successfully transition to store-based selling. But as the company grew, Paulsen noted a gap in how teams interacted and shared information, and that’s where YOOBIC supports them.
“We used traditional methods; we would email information, provide guidance and use PowerPoints. We’d also use various file sharing tools to provide information and direction,” Paulsen noted. “We’ve learned the benefit of having a platform where all things can happen, including training and really connecting with an associate in a way that’s easy for them — on their mobile device.”
Building Employee Confidence Across Channels
While UNTUCKit primarily leverages its stores as vehicles to solidify the brand promise and engender loyalty, locations also have become new outposts for fulfilling online orders, especially over the past 18 months. The expansion of employee task lists has created a greater need for training and enablement delivered quickly and efficiently. This fact made YOOBIC’s mobile-first platform extremely appealing, as Paulsen sought to create a single point of truth for associates as the business continued to scale.
“Our associates are now being asked to do a lot of different things; they’re interacting with customers via live chat, they’re talking to customers and they’re fulfilling orders,” Paulsen explained. “It’s about ensuring that our associates have the most information available in front of them to help the customer the way they want to be helped.”
Through a mobile app, associates can essentially access everything they need to do their jobs well: they can manage daily tasks, access virtual training and give feedback and progress reports to their supervisors. Associates can tap into the app at any time throughout their day, whether they’re on the sales floor or in the stockroom, an increasingly vital capability as online orders continue to ramp up.
The platform also helps UNTUCKit maintain consistency across its brick-and-mortar fleet: “What keeps me up at night is ensuring that we’re consistently executing what we want to across all stores, and doing it in a way that’s on brand,” said Paulsen. “The YOOBIC platform provides us the ability to provide direction in a very simple form, direct execution and then interact with our stores.”
For example, HQ can direct all stores to take pictures of their mannequins so they can ensure all stores are set up quickly. “Our prior methods of doing that were kind of clunky and not easy for the store to execute — now we can see what a store is doing almost in real time,” Paulsen noted.
To keep associates ever-engaged and in tune with best practices, YOOBIC provides employee training via bite-sized quizzes and videos. Quick but compelling content like this keeps employees on track without disrupting their workflows. Executives at HQ also can send real-time updates to all stores and associates, giving them details on new policies and protocols, and even new in-store features like merchandise displays, promotions and services.