With Retail the only constant is change!
Looking back over Christmas 2013, there have been some winners in retail and some losers. Next has clearly been one of the winners and they are contemplating a special dividend to return surplus cash to their Shareholders.
It is hard to isolate what the winners have been doing compared to the losers. but one thing is very clear. The retailer that stands still will be the retailer that loses. We all know how the web has transformed shopping, but we are now seeing a second front opening up with some retailers allowing their customers to buy on the web and collect at a store. This ‘collect at a store’ service will increase the burden on the store staff, but this is unlikely to be the only change that will be affecting stores.
Retailers must be constantly striving to improve and be better than their competition in a very competitive market. Other likely store projects include: store refurbishment, departmental moves, electronic ticketing, upgrade to POS, telephony, etc.
With all these projects being managed from Head Office and by different departments, it is important to understand when each project is being implemented at each store to ensure that the level of change being implemented at stores is not so high that the store staff cannot absorb this change fully or they are so immersed in the changes being imposed by Head Office that the customer service suffers leading to falling revenues and brand damage.
Store Operations or Retail Operations are responsible for the smooth running of stores and it is their job to ensure that the level of change in retail is not too high. This can be a difficult job as many projects are designed and rolled out by different departments at Head Office.
A large retailer that we work for has a rule that no two projects should be implemented within 2 weeks of each other at any given store. They used to have a large spreadsheet that attempted to do this. Suffice to say this approach was prone to error and many projects slipped past Store Operations.
To improve this situation we developed PM3 that can loads the shape of chain and then roll out projects against each store or any combination of stores.
The progress of these projects can be managed using our tool and a clash test can be run to show if any projects were being implemented at the same time at a store. If this was the case the projects could be rescheduled to avoid the clash. Having all store implementation projects in the same multi-user system – not a spreadsheet – greatly improves a retailer’s ability to absorb change.