Retail — 6 June 2019

3 ways to improve collaboration between retail stores and Head Office

Authored by: Mathieu Milot, Industry Principal for Retail at Dropbox

A recent Quantum Workplace report found that nearly 35% of retail employees feel disengaged with their work. This is a significant problem since the majority of employees in retail engage directly with customers.

This disengagement is fuelled by poor communication between retail stores and Head Office, and a lack of alignment about the tools and business processes that will enable in-store teams to do their job more effectively.

Setting unrealistic expectations, introducing new technology in-store without fully understanding what store employees and customers actually want, and overloading teams with information — these are just a few common scenarios eroding communication between the store and Head Office.

To help fix this broken system and re-energise the shop floor, we’ve devised three ways Head Office can improve communication with stores.

1. Include stores when designing new store business processes

Consider for one moment you’re on the shop floor, handling customers, replenishing stock, or managing sales. Now imagine you receive a new directive from Head Office, asking you to update your sales figures, run an ad hoc stock count, adding a new process into your already busy day-to-day. How do you feel?

This top-down broadcast messaging methodology can make store teams feel put-upon. Instead, engage in two-way communications with your in-store teams.

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Implement technology enabling store teams to provide direct feedback on new ideas; it makes them feel more included in change. Committed teams are likely to be happier and more productive.

First-hand feedback is essential to create workflows and processes that work in the real world.

You can simplify this even further by introducing a specialist team to handle business process design and communications with your stores. Reducing points of contact and creating consistency will strengthen the trust and relationship between Head Office and customer-facing employees.

2. Introduce email rules to focus on customers and meaningful work

To help save your in-store teams from the stream of emails that can besiege them, implement rules preventing emails being sent at peak shopping times, group store communications into a weekly broadcast, and bring in new tools to prevent an over reliance on email in the communication process.

A McKinsey study found employees spend 28% of their working week reading and answering emails — the balance needs to be addressed to ensure store directors spend their time more effectively.

The benefit of introducing email rules like this is to allow teams to focus on meaningful work. The more time that your teams spend engaging with your customers, the better the experience you deliver.

3. Take advantage of cloud and collaborative tools

Using cloud tools to communicate with retail store teams simplifies how you share content.

Distributing new brand guidelines, implementing best practices, and rethinking store processes via the cloud saves time, creates internal alignment, minimises the volume of emails sent to stores, and ensures customers are receiving the most up to date information.

Collaboration tools like Dropbox are essential here, making it easy for teams — regardless of their location or device — to work collaboratively on content whether they are in-store or at Head Office.

With collaboration tools in place and better communication between Head Office and retail teams, you will be in a better position to understand what your in-store team needs, and evaluate your processes to improve workflows.

Following this advice, you should notice positive changes happening quickly. Teams will feel engaged, energised, and included. And communications will flow more freely between the retail operation and Head Office, new processes implemented faster, and better results delivered quicker.

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