Have you ever managed a retail store that could have been more organized?
Chaotic and disorganized floor areas can cause frustration and struggle for store managers. Thus, your employees seemed overwhelmed with products scattered carelessly throughout the store.
It was clear that proper store management should be implemented to keep physical stores running smoothly.
Customers would unlikely have a positive shopping experience, and by that, would they be eager to return in the future?
This is why retail operations are essential for the success of your retail stores. With strong retail operations management, your physical store can be transformed from one that survives to one that thrives - with happy new customers, repeat customers, and increased profits.
Retail operations involve a range of skills, such as people management, process-building, and attention to detail, which are all essential for creating well-run and successful retail businesses.
Read more below as you will learn and discover a lot about a retail operation and its components.
Tell me more about Retail Operations
As a store owner or a store manager, you will likely observe how a retail store operates. From how you start overseeing the whole customer journey, your retail employees help customers to sales representatives process payments and transactions.
Store operations on normal days include keeping the store tidy, store layout, checking customer feedback, product inventory management, marketing, internal controls, payment processes, analytics, and generating sales reports.
These activities are what you call retail operations. It may seem like normal daily activities done by retail operations professionals, but these operations keep your store functioning.
So, how do these operations function well?
Let us now dive into the functions of retail operations in a retail business
This set of operations requires a large scope of responsibilities and functionalities to ensure that it complies with the rules and regulations related to the retail industry.
Normally, retail operators need to understand the importance of how each component of retail store operations functions accordingly, ensuring that it is going in the same direction and success is not deprived in their retail business.
Good quality employees and staff
Isn't it appealing that your store can provide access to an expert whom they can reach out to when they need assistance?
Finding the best staff to fill in a retail business is as important as finding the best products to sell. They are the ones who will provide a great service to those customers that might need extra help or assistance.
One of the important functions of a retail operation is hiring skilled and qualified employees - having one would bring invaluable assets to a retail business.
This doesn't end here; they then need to be trained with the business' unified standard operating procedures.
Specific tasks will be given to them so that they will be well-trained and knowledgeable enough to cater to their customers. Most retailers track their performance to know and utilize their potential.
Excellent customer service
Having good and qualified staff will probably serve customers right. In this case, there will be a greater chance of providing or even exceeding a customer's expectations.
How does it affect a retail operation? Simply, customer satisfaction is a big impact on determining the success of your retail store.
Your staff should be involved from the moment a customer steps in until the moment they make a purchase. You are accountable for answering questions, helping them pick the best products or services, and constantly greeting them.
Leaving a good taste in their mouths, whether it's done virtually or in person, will create a positive and relaxing atmosphere for them - a higher chance of customer retention.
Employee management apps are being used by some retailers to maintain good customer service. You can allow your employees to stay on the same page by quickly alerting them if any changes or policies may arise. This can also help communication between staff and managers if there are need to assist customers from one department to another.
Supply chain management
Ensuring that products are always available when customers need them is also a major function of a good retail operation.
It requires coordination with the rest of the activities, such as inventory management, to deliver and produce the demands of the customers, from supplier selection, order processing, transportation, and delivery.
According to Robert Handfield, "it is a set of approaches utilized to efficiently integrate suppliers, manufacturers, warehouses, and stores so that merchandise is produced and distributed in the right quantities, to the right locations, and at the right time in order to minimize system-wide cost while satisfying service level requirements".
This function is somehow related to supply chain management, yet they are two distinct functions.
Why is that?
It's because it only focuses on specific pieces of the process, including checking stock levels, tracking order costs, calculating lead time, and re-ordering points.
Retail management apps like Salext provide an accessible inventory management feature that you can use for stock checking. You can always count or correct your stock levels available in the store with an easy scan.
Imagine having enough school supplies in stock when the first day of school starts or having enough umbrellas when the rainy season comes. It's as simple as that - you need to track the trends to supply what a customer demands.
If you are able to monitor your products and what's selling, thus providing customers with the product they want will get you ahead of the competition and will have the edge over other retailers because this will reduce your expenses and improve your sales quickly.
As we've done discussing the internal flow of delivering products to the end users, it is also important to know the marketing function of retail store operations.
Marketing management analyzes customer needs and then develops an effective marketing strategy in order to match those needs.
This includes targeting audiences using traditional advertising, in-store deals and campaigns, the use of digital media, social media, newsletters, and many more.
You can always have these digital promotional campaigns on the go. With Salext's Digital Signage, you can create and design promotional content or campaigns because of its built-in designer, which you can be able to share across different retail channels.
These promotional strategies should also be calculated to work within the budget while maximizing profit. Thus, still providing the best experience to the customers!
This is an important function in making sure that precautions are highly in place.
Security measures may include cameras everywhere, alarms, and a visible security agent on physical locations. This is to ensure that only not the assets are protected but also the customers and staff inside.
Security is very crucial as well in systems used in retail industries with large amounts of data. Information should be protected, and data breaches should be avoided. Security measures may include regular updates of security patches, encryption protocols, and authentication processes.
Consider this function as the end result of every process mentioned above. How?
Simple. It means this is the driving force of the whole retail store operations. Even though how interesting or how enticing your offers and deals are, if they don't proceed to checkout, nothing will happen.
Therefore, this involves different forms of what or how payments are accepted.
Nowadays, retail stores are using Point-Of-Sale systems or POS during checkouts. This includes all types of payments and can be of great use for managing inventories.
With Salext's Sales Module, you can provide a seamless checkout process in-store. Store employees can help customers check out products and then pay with less queue via its integrated payment processing system.
Retail operation's current situation
According to the United States Census Bureau, over 3.7 million retail establishments are operating in the US as of their statistics in 2019.
As digital transformations took over the place, 75% of retail organizations considered it despite the rise of the pandemic, according to the Google State of the API Economy 2021.
The rise of the pandemic, economic downturns, natural disasters, and other unexpected events significantly impacted retail standard procedures, leading to supply chain issues for some.
Retailers are forced to find or come up with a new effective retail operations strategy in order to stay competitive and to improve efficiency among employees. Retailers are now embracing ways to automate retail operations across multiple retail locations.
How to automate your retail operations?
Finding an innovative retail application that will change how your business operates could be a challenging one since there's already a wide selection in the marketplace.
But, having one could simplify your retail operations and free up more of your time to focus on other important tasks.
Retail management platforms like Salext can help businesses automate their retail operations by choosing modules based on their business needs.
If you need ways to automate communications between managers and employees or find ways to track your employees' tasks, or if you want a system in which you can automate your stock levels, you can always do this with Salext.
You can always connect every module to the different sections in your store with just one tap away.
Because of its flexible features, it can help you focus on your employees without risking the opportunities to communicate efficiently with your customers.
Discover which solutions best fit your business needs now so that you can deliver the best customer service with high profitability.
How about the data as a factor in automating a retail operation?
Understanding the behavior of your customers, employees, products, services, and other areas of retail is an advantage to creating a precise plan for automation.
Data should be collected, stored, and analyzed in order to create accurate and informed decisions to automate an operation.
Your proper analysis can save you time and reduce your costs, as you already have insights into what areas are needed for optimization and automation.
Future Perspectives on Retail Operations
Retail store operations are constantly evolving, and the way retailers operate. We have already seen and experienced a shift toward online shopping, impacting traditional brick-and-mortar stores.
To stay competitive, you have to adapt new ways and market your businesses to different sales channels.
The continued growth of E-commerce
E-commerce has become a major factor in the way consumer buy products. Advanced technology, websites, and mobile applications, totally change the nature of retail operations.
Nowadays, store owners invest in digital infrastructures and build their online presence to keep up with customers' shopping preferences.
Utilizing e-commerce and its associated benefits, some aspects of manual retail store operations are now being slowly replaced.
It eliminates most of the manual labor in a retail store - the idea of a physical inventory is transformed into an inventory tracking system, and customers can now locate products and complete faster transactions with self-checkout kiosks without relying on an employee to assist them.
Use of automation
Another critical factor that is now shaping the future of retail operations is the rapid use of automated systems and processes.
Retailers are now transitioning from manual methods to employee management apps, inventory management software, retail management apps, and automated payment software— maximizing profitability and improving employee efficiency.
Automated software like Salext can be integrated into different sections that are used in retail operations. Employees can now track stock supplies while checking in other tasks. Yes, all in one action time!
This will become more important for future retail operations because of its concept of capturing data of employees from multiple channels in order to accurately measure their performance and then identify areas of improvement.
Retailers can also gain insights into buying patterns and trends by integrating these data into machine learning algorithms.
Using data analytics in retail operations can come up with conclusions based on the data gathered.
It's possible that in the future, as more advanced technology integrates data analytics, it will give new ideas and techniques for a more personalized shopping experience. Employees will surely be able to know what you are looking for without even speaking. Cool right?
AI approach to retail store operations
AI offers many opportunities to improve retail operations providing employees with better decisions in operations management.
Businesses are now able to utilize AI approaches to replace manual retail store operations because AI can automate labor-intensive processes in-store. AI-powered checkouts will soon replace manual POS systems.
AI approach provides a powerful combination of employee efficiency and customer engagement that will help your store ahead of any competition while also providing customers with a unique shopping experience that they will surely appreciate.
With the recent technological advances and innovations, we can't deny the fact that Augmented Reality will soon become an effective future innovation of retail operations.
Retailers can take advantage of its purpose to provide employees with an interactive experience that combines both real-life sales floor and computer-generated concepts. It will improve the workflow among retail employees because it will give them the ability to access any information, from inventories to product orders, even without leaving their posts.
What's more exciting is that it can be integrated with advanced visual elements or holograms where you can easily track your employees or be in a virtual realm together- just like interacting in real life!
The concept of simulation in Augmented Reality is also beneficial in onboarding new staff as they can practice the tasks before going into real scenarios.