Store Operations

Store Operations examines the issues and challenges facing today’s store operators. From workforce management to merchandising and new store openings, this section is designed to help retailers improve the bottom line while holding the line on costs. Subscribe to the feed and stay in touch with the latest retail happenings.

Mobile Workforce Management Engages Next-Generation Associates

  Following is Part 2 of the Retail TouchPoints series focused on Best Practices In Workforce Management. Part 1, which appeared in the April 16 newsletter, may be accessed here. Mobile workforce management strategies are at the forefront for retailers focused on a more efficient, digitally savvy workforce, which is now better equipped to improve the customer experience. “Making the move to mobile” is vital to streamlining WFM processes and staffing decisions today, according to an Aberdeen Group report, titled: Workforce Management: The Key to Retail Customer Service. In order to maintain customer intimacy, as well as improve employee productivity, the study explained: “Retailers need to transition to more open, integrated and mobile solutions that [allow them] to optimize their workforce management initiatives and also create engaging and valuable customer experiences.”

Retailers Enrich The Customer Experience With Scheduling Optimization

Following is Part 1 of the Retail TouchPoints series focused on Best Practices In Workforce Management. This section focuses on technologies and strategies designed to optimize the scheduling process. Part 2, which looks at additional strategies retailers are using to enhance workforce optimization, will appear in the April 23 newsletter. Retailers are competing more aggressively on customer experience. Many are focused on workforce optimization to achieve two key goals: improve the overall customer experience, and create more efficient and competitive workforce strategies. The results of a survey conducted by Retail TouchPoints and Workforce Insight, titled: Benchmark Survey: Uncovering Answers To Workforce Challenges, disclosed the opportunities to enhance the customer experience: Almost half (46%) of the 200-plus respondents said they had quantified their customer experience and are allocating enough payroll to execute it. However, only 3% said their defined customer experience is executed consistently in every store on every day, 100% of the time. Another 19% said it is executed less than one out of every two opportunities to do so. Approximately 80% said the defined customer experience is executed more than half of the time.

Rent-A-Center Saves Millions With Cloud-Based Procurement Process

Demand for cloud-based solutions continues to intensify as more retailers recognize the cost and performance benefits of cloud computing. In fact, cloud software revenues are expected to reach $67.3 billion by 2016, from $22.9 billion in 2011, according to IDC Insights. Rent-A-Center (RAC) partnered with IBM Smarter Commerce and Coupa Software, an e-procurement software company, to move procurement processes to the cloud. The goal was to reduce sourcing costs and cycle times, and increase accounts payable productivity. Through the collaboration, RAC successfully transformed several procurement procedures, streamlined spending and “achieved millions in savings by optimizing and centralizing its purchasing process in the cloud,” according to an IBM press release.

Tibi Unites PLM And ERP To Fuel Business Growth

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions provide retailers with a variety of tools and activities to develop, track and manage branded and exclusive products. With PLM, merchants can obtain a single version of product truth, from conception to order fulfillment. By pairing PLM with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution, Tibi, a New York-based fashion brand, has improved organizational efficiency and reduced time spent manually entering and updating data, according to Alexandra Boet, CFO for Tibi. Both tools are from NGC, a provider of enterprise solutions for PLM, global supply chain management and ERP. Together, PLM and ERP have “helped us improve and automate our business workflow and internal processes.”

South Bend Brew Werks Adds New Payment, Loyalty Options With Genius

The payment space constantly is evolving, particularly with the U.S. transition to the Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) global standard, and the increasing adoption of Near Field Communication (NFC) and other mobile payment options. In response, retailers are keeping pace with new developments by replacing old hardware with new, cloud-based solutions that accommodate new payment, discount and loyalty program options.   South Bend Brew Werks successfully is adapting to new payment and loyalty trends by leveraging the Genius Customer Engagement Platform from Merchant Warehouse, which is integrated into VeriFone MX915 hardware. Using the cloud-based, PCI-compliant solution, South Bend Brew Werks can accept a variety of payment options, and integrate loyalty program information and discounts more seamlessly and cost efficiently, according to Andrew Elegante, owner of the home brewing supply store, which soon will include a “brewpub.” “Since we are a relatively new company, simplicity and ease of use are very important to us,” Elegante said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We wanted a payment solution that offered a ‘plug, play and forget’ approach.”

Cloud-based Portals Streamline Retailer-Supplier Collaboration

  This is Part 4 of the Retail TouchPoints series, titled: Retailer-Supplier Collaboration: The New Operational Imperative. Click to access Parts 1, 2 and 3. You can also download the full PDF here.   There are no mass-produced consumers: Product variety, delivery options, vendor sources and other supply chain competencies must satisfy individual customer preferences ― and both retailers and suppliers are responsible for the teamwork that delivers that satisfaction. To excel in this environment of shared accountability, progressive retail organizations are establishing real-time, web-enabled data sharing portals that facilitate vendor partnerships at a deep level. Today’s Internet portal-based technology tools “enable immediate collaboration between trading partners, with issue drill-down capabilities that eliminate unnecessary administration time on both sides,” stated Katy Keane, President of Koncatenate, a supply chain consulting practice. “The retailer/vendor relationship is strengthened, trust grows and both parties are meeting the goals of supply chain performance and consumer expectations.”

Effective Supplier Alliances: Q&A With CVS Caremark And The Neiman Marcus Group

  This is Part 2 of the Retail TouchPoints series, titled: Retailer-Supplier Collaboration: The New Operational Imperative. Based on conversations with retailers, analysts and other industry experts, this 4-part feature examines the dominant trends, challenges, technologies and achievements now at the forefront of attaining full retailer-supplier collaboration. Part 3 of the Retail-Supplier Collaboration feature will appear in the February 26 newsletter. To access Part 1, click here.  CVS Caremark and The Neiman Marcus Group are among the retailers aggressively pursuing strong retailer-supplier collaboration. RTP spoke with Ron Link, SVP of Logistics, CVS Caremark, and Jill Barron, VP, Supply Chain, The Neiman Marcus Group, to gain and share a better understanding of their collaboration views and successes.

Retailer-Supplier Collaboration: New Rationale Justifies Investment

This is Part 1 of the Retail TouchPoints series, titled: Retailer-Supplier Collaboration: The New Operational Imperative. Based on conversations with retailers, analysts and other industry experts, this 4-part feature examines the dominant trends, challenges, technologies and achievements now at the forefront of attaining full retailer-supplier collaboration. Part 2 of the Retail-Supplier Collaboration feature will appear in the February 19 newsletter.  Today’s retail supply chain executives are moving more products farther and faster than ever before. They are pressured by consumers’ new-found empowerment over products and delivery, uncertain global economies and advances in globalization, localization, omnichannel retail and other demands ― all putting strain on the supply chain process.  To combat today’s supply chain challenges, smart retailers are taking a more focused look at collaborating with their supplier partners. A successful retailer-supplier collaboration can help alleviate pressures along all key points in the supply system. A strong alliance can bring products to market faster, reduce production and logistics costs, drive market share, and increase sales, while maximizing ROI for both partners.

Competing Beyond Price To Maximize Customer Loyalty

Following is Part 3 of the Retail TouchPoints series focused on Pricing Challenges In An Omnichannel World. In this final installment, industry analysts discuss how retailers can maximize customer loyalty by providing enhanced services and benefits, not related to price. Click here to access a PDF version of the full report. The economy slowly is recovering, encouraging consumers to research and purchase products more frequently. However, today’s tech-savvy shoppers still are researching aggressively across channels and devices to find the best buy. Mobile price comparison and other new ways shoppers are researching products have prompted retailers to implement new strategies, including price-matching models and more consistent pricing across channels — in an effort to attract price-conscious consumers. While addressing pricing challenges, however, merchants must continue to address customer wants, needs and expectations, noted Greg Girard, Program Director of Merchandising and Marketing Strategies and Retail Analytics at IDC Retail Insights.

Foodland Streamlines Staff Management With Traffic Counting

Today’s time-starved consumers want to complete transactions quickly and seamlessly, especially in grocery stores, where shoppers are rushing to complete their lists and move to check out. To ensure shoppers have a streamlined shopping experience free of long wait times, Foodland, a Hawaii-based grocery retailer, has implemented thermal-powered people counting and checkout management solutions from Irisys. Using these technologies, the retailer is empowered to pinpoint high-traffic times, leading to improved employee scheduling and more efficient checkout processes. “Foodland is committed to delivering superior customer service that keeps our shoppers coming back,” said Robert Murphy, CIO of Foodland, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We know the checkout experience can leave lasting impressions on our customers, particularly if it feels understaffed, time consuming and unorganized.”

The Container Store Improves Financial Planning And Forecasting

Manually collecting, updating and analyzing financial data has many retailers struggling with inefficient and costly planning processes. Best-in-class merchants such as The Container Store, however, are harnessing the power of the cloud to get real-time access to performance data, leading to more efficient and frequent budgeting and forecasting execution. By leveraging cloud-based corporate performance management (CPM) solutions from Adaptive Planning, The Container Store successfully has eliminated the need for manual updates across cumbersome spreadsheets, and lowered costs. The move allows quarterly, as well as monthly forecasts, rather than annual reports. Moreover, the retailer has automated the entire CPM cycle, which includes the following phases: budgeting, reporting, analysis, and re-forecasting. In doing so, the retailer now is equipped to update financial reports and forecasts far more easily and get a comprehensive view of financial plans and forecasts, Michael Lambeth, Director of Finance for The Container Store, told Retail TouchPoints. 

French Connection Cuts Costs With SAP Stock Scheduling

Retailers are seeking more cost efficient ways for IT staff members to track and manage operations and system updates. This efficiency particularly is essential for retailers utilizing overnight shift teams to manage and integrate inventory data, often manually, from e-Commerce sites and brick-and-mortar locations. To help decrease costs and improve efficiencies, French Connection ― an apparel designer, manufacturer and distributor ― implemented the SAP Sales and Distribution Central Process Scheduling and Cronacle solutions from Redwood, an enterprise scheduling and process automation provider. In doing so, the brand improved reliability of global stock replenishment processes with automated, round-the-clock systems integration of POS data from stores in the U.S., U.K. and online. The implementation ultimately resulted in improved end-user experiences, Claire Joel, Head of IT for French Connection U.K., told Retail TouchPoints. It also has allowed the company to eliminate the overnight shift and reassign that budget to extend help desk hours.

IHL Webinar: Retailers Debate Cause Of Out-Of-Stocks

More consumers are turning to online retailers such as Amazon to browse and buy items. These shifting consumer behaviors can, in part, be attributed to the fact that many brick-and-mortar retailers are restricted by inefficient inventory management processes, according to Greg Buzek, Founder and President of IHL Group. During the webinar, titled: Retail Without Disappointment: Consumer Reaction to Out-Of-Stocks, Buzek shared research from IHL Group, which indicated that overall inventory distortion costs retailers worldwide an average of $818.4 billion. The 2nd Annual Inventory Distortion Study from IHL Group and Tyco Retail Solutions also found that approximately 56% of this total was based on consumers not being able to access an item they intended to buy, while the remaining amount was due to retailers discounting items by more than 25%.

Leveraging Retail Analytics To Make Better Marketing Decisions

This is Part 1 of the Retail TouchPoints Retail Analytics feature, spotlighting how retailers can make better marketing decisions by using retail analytics. The two-part report also highlights current trends and challenges retailers are facing while collecting and analyzing customer data across digital and physical channels. Part 2 of the Retail Analytics feature will appear in the October 23 newsletter. Today’s consumers are more hyper-connected and educated than ever before, causing retailers to scramble to deliver optimal marketing messages and offers based on the unique wants and needs of every shopper. Merchants are struggling to implement cross-channel marketing campaigns that match customer demographics and psychographics ― largely because they are in the early stages of conquering Big Data. The sheer amount of customer information retailers must collect continues to rise as the amount of unstructured data collected via social networks and mobile increases exponentially.

Finish Line Transitions To Mobile POS, Targets Time-Starved Holiday Shoppers

In an effort to boost sales and customer satisfaction this holiday season, best-in-class retailers eagerly are testing and rolling out optimal customer-facing mobile initiatives. From apps to m-POS, there are multiple ways merchants can harness the power of mobile to better connect with customers at any time and from anywhere. Finish Line, for example, is transitioning 638 of its sporting goods stores nationwide to m-POS by adopting iPod Touch devices wrapped in VeriFone technology. The retailer also will be implementing additional hardware from VeriFone to provide mobile checkout as well as traditional POS systems that feature interactive video displays. By doing so, the retailer seeks to create a seamless shopping experience for time-starved shoppers, especially valuable during the holiday shopping season, Terry Ledbetter, CIO of Finish Line, told Retail TouchPoints. “Our online and hyper-mobile customers are all about speed, style, performance and technology,” Ledbetter explained. “For Finish Line, mobile checkout and point of service are obvious enhancements for satisfying those needs. This deployment is a foundational step to an ever-developing omni-channel experience, and is one of the many ways we continually innovate for our customers.”
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