If you’re in retail, chances are good you’re worried about survival. Companies are closing stores or considering closing stores, even epic brands like Macy’s, Sears, Gap, and Sam’s Club. Whether you call it the Amazon or Walmart effect, it has everything to do with online and brick-and-mortar presence.
Your organization is moving at rapid pace to ward against that happening. Inventory is ready to move, staff is ready and your online presence is set to compete.
There’s still more to consider. Are your workers informed and engaged? Do they know whether your stock room or nearby stores have inventory at a moment’s notice? Do they have the information they need on pricing policies? Can they live your brand?
It’s time to rethink your communications strategy, if you haven’t already, and plan for engaged and informed full-time, part-time and temporary workers.
1. Engage all workers, including temporary workers
Some organizations think that temporary workers come and go, so they skip onboarding. They even believe they don’t need incentives or reasons to strive and succeed.
That’s a big mistake.
Your workers, temp and otherwise, should be prepared.
- Live your brand including helping workers understand why they should enthusiastically help customers.
- Train on policies around security, safety, fraud, pricing and inventory.
- Provide a clear strategy and defined goals, including how your company is integrating its online and in-store approaches with customers.
- Incentivize employees to meet or exceed company goals that include and go beyond extra store discounts.
- Enable kudos from customers, peers and management.
- Empower employees, all of them, to help customers, including providing on-the-spot discounts and offers.
- Celebrate and have fun!
All of these ideas seem far-fetched? Consider Starbucks. Whether you like their coffee or not, you’ve probably had it and will do so again. They have a great reputation for how they treat employees and because of it have a strong brand. People who work for the company understand the mission and vision. They have discretion and are empowered to provide free drinks for happy and unhappy customers. There are internal incentives for employees to increase profits. Part-time and full-time employees have benefits. If you know any current or previous Starbucks employees, they generally have good things to say about the company and the culture. And because of this, they’re brand advocates when they work at Starbucks and long after.
2. Develop a comprehensive mobile strategy
Untether your workforce so they can focus on serving customers while still getting important company alerts and information.
- Consider multiple devices – smartphone, tablet, and laptop – as well as multiple operating systems, including whether you want staff and seasonal workers to bring their own devices.
- Provide key access points across your store – wireless hotspots, cell coverage areas, etc.
- Enable employees and season staff to access your intranet and news on-the-go using mobile devices to remain current with company news, inventory availability, brand, price matching policies, and incentives for doing their jobs well. Your staff’s fast and accurate ability to answer questions on-the-floor could mean more sales.
- Give workers on-the-go metrics, including on their mobile devices. If you have daily and weekly sales goals, make sure they know that. Also, make sure safety and security statistics are available.
- Ensure workers can receive safety and security alerts quickly and easily to prevent fraud as well as keep workers and customers safe. Although we don’t like to think about sales causing shoppers to become feisty, it happens. Eliminating incidents that require crisis communication can ensure a happy holiday for everyone.
- Make break rooms an oasis as well as a place to share ideas and get information. Ensure it’s a stress-free environment where your employees can receive additional information, should they need it.
- Enable every worker to provide real-time feedback through their mobile device. You’ll know not only customer trends but be able to solve communications issues, real-time.
- Provide a way for employees to give real-time kudos to fellow workers, thanking them for their hard work. Enabling staff to do so on their mobile devices ensures they’ll have time to do it.
- Connect backroom and front-line salespeople so they can easily communicate. For example, if they know inventory is available, even if there’s none of the floor, stockers can quickly jump in and provide that needed item.
3. Empower local leaders
Lean on your managers – store managers as well as the organizational structure that falls within stores. They can ensure staff understand retail goals.
- Incentivize them to live the brand.
- Ensure they understand company policies, including safety, security, pricing and inventory policies themselves.
- Provide opportunities for them to collaborate with in-store staff as well as those stores nearby.
- Empower them to celebrate with in-store personnel and handling customers.
- Get their feedback and ideas. They’ll know customer and sales trends daily and may have ideas on local-area offers and discounts. For example, New Yorkers may need jackets while Floridians require bathing suits in December. Coloradans needs warm fireplaces, and yet Louisianans require ceiling fans in December. It may not make sense to force a companywide sale. Allowing regions to determine discounts and offers helps managers meet sales goals.
- Encourage managers to share their stories of success. Use your company intranet news to showcase their wins.
- Give them the local and regional support they need.
- Help them communicate. Brainstorm ideas that work for their stores and shifts as well as support mobile communications. Ensure they understand how to communicate in-store emergencies to personnel and local emergency personnel.
- Give them time on the floor and off the floor.
- Ask them how they’re succeeding at sharing information.
If you need more ideas on how to get managers to cascade information, we have them.
By ensuring staff – all of them – are engaged and informed, they’ll better understand what’s happening in the market and at your company. They’ll have the best pricing options and know what’s in stock. That ensures better customer service.
You’re also reinforcing that staff lives the brand. By living the brand, they’ll be better able to convey what your retail company is all about and how it’s different than other brands. A strong brand will attract the best and the brightest workers. Customer will align themselves with your company, too — choosing your brand over competitors.
It all means increased sales, happy employees and satisfied customers. That guarantees survival.
Retail needs robust intranets that can handle powerful communication plans. ElevatePoint has a mobile one that makes communicating faster and easier.