The retail industry is in a state of constant transformation and there is an increasing urgency to reduce costs and to increase efficiency in operations. As customers become more demanding, there is also extra pressure to exceed their expectations with regards to the quality of the product, service and overall experience.

To help operation managers improve their businesses, we’ve compiled this list of the top 5 challenges in 2018 for retail operations and explained how to overcome them.

1. Need for customization

Customers can prove very demanding and they are increasingly looking for unique experiences that allow them to build and customize their own products. Retail managers must rethink the role of their stores and develop smarter, more personalised offers. With the growing popularity of online retail stores such as ASOS, overcoming this challenge is central to creating retail experiences that still draw in customers.

Shoppers want interaction, memorable experiences, fast and quality services. They also love to engage their senses of sights, smells, tastes, and touch wherever possible.

The shopping experience can be improved with artificial intelligence. We can now use data to improve the shopping process by acting on patterns that the technology picks up on. Retailers can also use virtual reality, showrooming or cutting-edge photobooth technology to create a more dynamic and stimulating experience for shoppers.

Retailers should also contemplate regular audits, as they allow for the precise updates on the status of operations, generating specific reports and ensuring compliance of all stages of the service offered to the customer.

2. Retail price inflation

With consumers having to pay more and more for their daily essentials, many have less disposable income and are now more likely to cut down on their budget for luxury products likes clothes. For this reason, it is now up to retailers to give consumers a valid reason to shop and to prove that what they will have represents excellent value for money.

Equally, retailers are struggling to deal with higher costs which are likely to rise. The solution might be to invest in proper planning and automation of processes and tasks, which could result in better cost control, optimisation of operations and a rate of higher customer satisfaction.

Retailers should also rethink the logistics of their supply chains and evaluate other options in the market in order to improve results.

3. Communication

Operating a retail business is undoubtedly a hard job, and managing internal communication is no exception. The complexity of this process will depend on the size of the business, how many stores there are, the number of workers. However, there are four other less obvious challenges that should always be considered, but are sometimes left forgotten.

  • Scalability – Increasing the scale of something equates to more complex teams and communication flows. There is a need to optimise interaction between staff and the managers;
  • Tracking – It is essential to track communications to guarantee the compliance and excellence of every retail process. This includes conducting reviews, approvals, production, design, logistics, among others;
  • Automation – Automated signs are important to ensure team members are held accountable for their actions, to help them to organise their tasks and to help them to solve problems rather than just creating stopgaps.
  • Reporting – It is crucial to measure results and to check that the teams are hitting their targets. This is a an especially important task for operation managers, as it allows them to make better-informed decisions, based on a review of current and upcoming communications.

Manual tools, Excel files or email are not sufficient to overcome these challenges. An alternative might be implementing an operational system with IT support that centralises every task. NFC, for example, is also an important technology that should be incorporated as it consists of a wireless data transfer technology that might provide detailed information about equipment or rooms. All of this can guarantee that execution and compliance are always at optimal levels.

4. Sustainability

The younger generations are becoming increasingly demanding of having a degree of transparency with regards to the ethical practices of the products they are purchasing. This ‘conscious consumer’ is changing the retail industry as brands must be more socially, environmentally and politically conscious which has a huge impact on the daily running of operations.

To help clients meet this goal, Infraspeak is committed to being a source of good life for the environmental sphere. It is a 100% paper-free software-solution, where all data and reports can be viewed on a digital platform, reducing the waste of paper and the need for physical storage.

5. Digital disruption

Technology and the scope of it’s uses is growing exponentially. It means that retailers need to merge online and offline businesses, from back-office operations to the final delivery to the consumer in-store.

Data collection is also evolving rapidly and helping us all to make decisions in sales, marketing, customer service, and operations. For example, with access to real-time data, it is possible to replenish a store, define optimized labor schedules, and manage KPIs to achieve positive financial results. Retailers should use data to set actionable targets and solve issues.

Management software such as Infraspeak brings the traditional benefits of planning and compliance with action-oriented solutions, allowing you to deal with all logistic challenges in the retail industry in a simpler and smarter way. Talk to us!