By James Kelliher, Chief Executive
A retail leader who is both inspirational and effective is a truly unique breed of CEO. He or she will have an instinctive understanding of customers and what they feel, need and want, a superior level of emotional intelligence with thousands of staff and suppliers, a head for numbers, a thorough understanding of logistics and supply chain, IT, marketing and digital – plus a curiosity for understanding products, their benefits and market trends. They have to know when to speak, and more often to listen, and be absolutely comfortable with delegation, swift decision-making and carry a belief in their collective people. They’ll want to work on the shop floor – often having started their career there – knowing that it is by far the best place to be.
The retailers who have a leader at the helm with all of these qualities will be the most likely to succeed because their leadership will create a culture where everyone is engaged. They recruit and keep the best people, with HR Director and Retail Directors to realise and execute the cultural vision. Yet even the best senior leaders need one other component to enhance employee engagement: technology. So, what are the main ways to embed technology tools in this area?
1. Recruitment: Sophisticated online tools are available to combine CV information with social media presence and other publicly-available information about candidates. Combined with effective screening by HR reps, interviews with both quantitative scoring and values-based questions, companies can best match the potential employee to the company’s culture.
2. Listening with satisfaction surveys: Using well-written regular quarterly and annual online employee surveys and multi-store focus groups will provide valuable information in a way that staff feel more open to provide. Embedding social media style functionality to internal platforms like Yammer or on intranets, will give quick and straightforward ways to feedback in between more formal surveys.
3. Enhance team work: When a cross-functional retail team kicks into action, it’s like watching a winning football team, so think how online or digital collaboration tools and workforce management software could be added into legacy IT architecture. Or make a plan to reinvent internal IT platforms and deploy next-generation versions, accessible through secure company laptops, tablets and smartphones.
4. Communication: Balancing how much communication needs to come from and go to stores can be tricky – it’s hard to find equilibrium when you’re opening or closing stores, running year-round promotions or managing a snow day. An annual root and branch review of ‘what, for who, why, how and how often’ will help provide clarity on content, and social media style software will make it easier for that all important two-way communication.
5. Perks: There are so many choices of online flexible benefits providers, and this choice, within a structured HR strategy, will increase engagement further.
6. Frictionless customer-facing technology: Often, one of the best ways to improve employee engagement is by giving colleagues ‘back office solutions’ which lead to easier and faster ways to help customers. Digital price tags and stock locations make pricing and re-stocking better, hand held payment terminals or software on tablets with contactless, email receipt options and full loyalty programme access make transactions smooth and APIs linking to stock room or warehouse data, click and collect and buy in-store-deliver to home services, mean no customer should walk away empty-handed.
Whether you’re a retail technology provider of POS, software or engagement platforms, we can help take your business on a fast growth path and further establish it in this competitive space. You can read our retail credentials on Slideshare below or contact us for an informal conversation.