Resources for Retail

Store ExperienceHow to Improve the Customer Shopping Experience In Stores

Physical retail isn’t actually dying. It’s just changing. We live in a dynamic digital age, and the retail-store experience has changed significantly over the years. In fact, the overall shopping experience was shifting long before Covid-19 completely transformed the way that people shop.

From long lines, to BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store), to contactless options in the checkout line, customer shopping patterns today are much different than they were twenty years ago. And those patterns saw a seismic shift the past year alone, and many of these changes are here to stay.

The future of retail is here- and brick-and-mortar store is still a vital part of the customer shopping experience. The accelerated evolution of retail communication demands agility and innovation from retail brands everywhere. 

We understand how the retail business works, and we know (first-hand) how frustrating it can be to align organizations in order to drive change and stay nimble. We’ve learned that in order for stores to execute better, save time and money, and create great customer experiences, we have to start with great communication. 

How can retail communications improve customer experience? First, you have to transform the way your frontline employees operate, execute and engage. 

Here are a few ways that you can align your teams and improve the shopper experience.

Retail CommunicationsThink you need an LMS? Think again.

When it comes to solving the store execution issue, a Learning Management System is only one piece of the puzzle.

In retail, Learning and Development is about teaching your employees skills and concepts that they can apply in the jobs they have today and in the future. One of the ways many retailers try to tackle L&D at scale is by implementing a Learning Management Solution, or LMS. 

At Retail Zipline, we’re focused on improving store execution through better communication - essentially, a much broader scope than simply delivering eLearnings. It’s why when clients come to us asking about our “LMS” capabilities, our first response is simple: “we’re not an LMS.” We don’t leave the conversation there, though, because I’ve found probing just a bit deeper can be incredibly enlightening.

Implementation at the Speed of Retail

As we anxiously wait for the Covid-19 vaccine to become readily available, it’s hard to ignore the toll that waiting takes. It’s human nature to want to solve a problem as soon we discover a powerful solution. We see it every time a retailer wants to implement Zipline; they see the power of Zipline to drive store execution through communications and task management and they’re ready to be transformed.

And, the beauty of Zipline is that we can have you rolled out in weeks. In fact, we’re usually asked to slow down the process so customers can align their fleets. (Since they don’t have Zipline yet, coordination is tricky!) 

What does the process look like? Have you ever watched a NASCAR driver pull into the pit? It’s kind of like that.

Ways to Empower your Frontline Workers

We know that happy employees = happy customers. When we partnered with Coyle Hospitality Group to conduct a study to explore the experience of shoppers and employees in today’s retail environment, we weren’t surprised about the correlation between engagement and execution. 

We’ve seen first-hand how companies that have strengthened their messaging and communications see increased engagement, better store execution, and increased cost savings. Bringing your retail brand to life means aligning the organization, from HQ to the storefront. Since we know that employee happiness drives better store engagement, Zipline customers prioritize people-first communication that promotes engagement across entire teams.

Here are a few ways that you can empower your employees and align your team. 

Revenge Spending: How Retailers Can Prepare

A year ago, the pandemic rocked our world. Our jobs, our economy, and our daily lives were all impacted by the virus and the regulations and policies that followed it. Now, as regulations begin to lift, vaccinations become more widespread, and people receive stimulus checks, pent-up consumers are flocking back from mandated isolation to populate brick-and-mortar stores for in-person spending. 

Many are calling this emerging behavior “revenge spending.” We’ve seen these trends in China as well as here in local retail sales after the last round of stimulus checks. Innovative retailers that have survived the pandemic are expected to see a windfall gain from the gradual reopening of the US. 

As the federal government distributes stimulus checks to previously confined populations of Americans, we can expect a spike in increased spending in our stores. Here are a few ways that retailers can prepare for consumer revenge spending. 

Why Comms Will Only Become More Important as the World Reopens

A recent Wall Street Journal article titled ‘No Shoes, No Mask, No Service? Businesses Now Write the Rules on Face Coverings’ made me realize that getting store communications right is going to be more important than ever as regulations begin to relax and people slowly return to their normal routines. As states such as Texas remove the official mask mandate, businesses are left to write their own rules.

The article reads, “A patchwork of reactions at businesses large and small will likely define the American consumer experience over the next several months. Best Buy, Target and other major firms have responded by reinforcing Covid-19 rules already in place, while other executives have said the masks can come off. The commercial, rather than the political, arena could very well determine how much our lives look like a return to normal in the coming months.”

Retail ExecutionHere’s how Retail Zipline Customers Compare to Other Retailers in Store Execution

Six months ago we sponsored a NAPCO research study around retailers’ ability to execute against recommended health and safety guidelines. The focus of the study was Total Retail’s Top 100 omni-channel retailers. Three months later, NAPCO sent shoppers back out into stores to see if brands improved. 

As part of our sponsorship of the report, Retail Zipline got access to the raw data that made up their Retailer Readiness: COVID-19 In-Store Safety Index Part II report. We analyzed it to understand how our customers are doing and to see what other insights we could uncover. 

Here’s how Retail Zipline Customers Compare to Other Retailers in Health and Safety Execution:

C-Stores Transform Engagement and Execution– Conversations at the NACS Human Resource Forum

Today we joined the NACS forum for Human Resource leaders! We are so excited to be new members of the organization and to continue to support industry trailblazers in the C-store vertical.

The NACS Human Resources Forum is connecting human resources professionals who support convenience stores. This virtual gathering is an opportunity for C-store industry leaders to explore new ideas and tools to support employee engagement the constantly shifting environment defined by a year of Covid-19. 

We are beyond excited to be part of the conversation about how brands are evolving and innovating. Today, NACS hosted a conversation with Zipline Chief Sales Officer, Randy Ray who spoke about how innovative retail brands are leveraging our platform to transform the way that employees operate, execute, and engage.

Here’s a first-hand look at how communication and engagement are the key elements that drive C-store execution. 

Retail ExecutionThe Future of Grocery: Aligning Store Communications

A year ago, Covid-19 brought non-essential brick-and-mortar retail stores to a halt. While businesses everywhere closed their doors for the first time, grocery stores exploded. Grocery associates were quickly designated as “essential workers” and products began flying off the shelves. 

While brands in other retail verticals had the benefit of time to prepare for reopening, grocery stores were reacting and adapting on the fly. The customer experience transformed instantly, launching us into a future age of grocery defined by online ordering, curbside pickup, and delivery, while stores still maintain a safe and shoppable environment. 

At Zipline, we set out to investigate how grocery stores navigated this new territory. We partnered with Coyle Hospitality Group to send secret shoppers into major grocery stores to uncover how they were performing compared to other brands in their category, as well as leaders in other verticals. This study set out to explore safety, employee engagement, and sales execution, and we uncovered some surprising insights.

Industry TrendsZipline Department Stores Set Apart from the Competition

Over the past few years, there has been a lot of discussion about the fate of department stores that are unable to react and adapt to customers’ changing needs. Some experts have. forecasted the definitive death of department stores stuck in the dark ages while applauding the inventive reallocating of store resources to accommodate the shift in consumer traffic.

Department stores have focused on redefining their role for years. Some industry leaders like Kohl’s and Macy’s have already made innovative strides to breathe new life into old models, while others have lagged behind. That was all right before an international pandemic hit. 

Expert InterviewsHow Zipline Differentiates With Customer Support

When we speak with customers, one of the compliments we routinely receive is that the Zipline support team goes above and beyond each and every day to exceed customers’ expectations. So in this blog post, we interview Stephanie Hoang, one of Zipline’s customer support specialists about Zipline’s unique approach to support and why that translates to a monthly average of 97.7% customer satisfaction.

Before we jump into the interview, it’s important to note that Zipline doesn’t charge for customer support or limit customers to a certain number of requests. Many customers who come to us from competing solutions are blown away by the fact that they no longer have to support the fleet’s questions around using the communications and task management platform. In fact, support at Zipline is open to all existing piloting and paying customers. It is accessed by clicking the pink bubble in the bottom right-hand corner of the app. 

Company NewsOur Big Investment to Make Retail Workers Happier and Brands Even Better

We founded Retail Zipline to help retailers operate brick-and-mortar stores more efficiently through a streamlined communications infrastructure. Our platform allows employees to prioritize their time and understand how tasks impact the success of the company. It’s a simple idea that helps employees better enjoy their work. A happy and hummin’ workforce creates an atmosphere that customers love to shop in and results in better top-line results for the business. 

2020 was a challenging year, but the chaos also created an opportunity for massive progress. As stores got bombarded with new government regulations and safety measures, it marked the start of a new era for retail operations. Long gone were the days of rigid and slow-moving structures; the retailers that flourished in 2020 needed to be agile, organized, and dependent on crisp and clear store communication. 

Retail Zipline was made for exactly this moment, and we seized it.

Retail CommunicationsHow LUSH Transformed its Communications Program During the Pandemic

The Retail Council of Canada has been an incredible resource for retailers during the pandemic. Many of our customers in the region turned to the organization for guidance and support and so when we had the opportunity to partner with them, we jumped at the chance. Last week, we sponsored a virtual event, hosted by Zipline account manager Rachel Meyers. We invited Carmen Ip, Communications and Operations Manager for Lush Cosmetics North America to share her communications journey during the pandemic.

With 269 shops in North America, Lush Cosmetics, like all retailers, was forced to quickly adapt to the pandemic. Suddenly, both HQ and stores were facing new challenges and big decisions, including navigating local health and safety guidelines, communicating with furloughed staff, and ensuring that customers continue to have excellent brand experiences.

Company NewsHow Zipline Tracks and Measures Success

One of our greatest rewards at Zipline is reviewing our Customer Satisfaction surveys and seeing how much our customers love using Retail Zipline to manage store communication, align the fleet, and drive store execution. Every year we survey our customers and every year our Net Promoter Score (NPS) increases. 

Our last NPS survey revealed a score of 78 on a scale of -100 to 100. That's unheard of in SaaS. This score measures more than just customer happiness- it also reflects how the product meets the needs of the market, solving customer pain points in terms of features, ease of use, and access to support. That is a lot to get right, and most enterprise solutions don’t perform as well. 

In this article, we interview Liz Manuntag, Customer Marketing Manager at Retail Zipline, to learn more about NPS and why it’s such an important measure for us.

Industry TrendsStores: Still a Vital Part of the Retail Experience

Macy’s will close 125 retail locations by 2023. Is this a harbinger of the end of the physical store? Macy’s calls the move rightsizing, and says this is part of a merchandising transformation that includes an enhanced digital and store experience.

We call it the future of retail: brick-and-mortar stores that are thoughtfully placed and reinvented as part of a true omnichannel strategy. 

And we know that Macy’s isn’t alone. GNC, Tailored Brands, Signet, Zara and many others have cut their retail footprints. Coresight tracked 2,145 store closings in the first month of 2021. While some retailers won’t make it out of lockdown, many are seizing the opportunity to grow and thrive in the wake of disruption.

Industry TrendsNRF 2021: Chapter One

Retail’s Big Show Addresses the Future of Retail

The National Retail Foundation has hosted an annual convention to unite industry leaders for over 100 years. With a pandemic underway, and the retail industry facing an unknown future, it was more important than ever for Retail’s Big Show to return virtually for its first chapter in 2021.

NRF 2021: Retail’s Big Show - Chapter One was focused entirely on the immediate needs of retailers today. In our new environment. Retail doesn’t stop moving forward, so we all move forward together. 

We had an incredible time hearing from industry experts and participating in conversations with visionary leaders from all over. These are some of the most important takeaways that we explored during NRF. 

Retail CommunicationsReady for the Next Normal: What Saks and Lululemon Learned in Lockdown

In a year of constant change, Saks and lululemon managed to thrive. At NRF today, two top execs explained how they were positioned to respond to changes in rules, safety and consumer behavior.

As moderator Colleen Taylor, American Express president, merchant services, US, summed it up, “The future is digital; the future is physical; the future is omnichannel.”

“Stores are still an important part of the customer experience, especially for luxury,” said Saks President and CEO Marc Metrick. At the same time, “Our digital business fired up even more when stores reopened.”

Store ExperienceToday the Cataclysm, Tomorrow the Future

2020 was a black elephant year, Kate Ancketill, CEO of the consultancy GDR Creative Intelligence told NRF last week. “The cataclysm we’ve all lived through was entirely predictable. … We knew it was coming, we just didn’t like talking about it.”

The pandemic and lockdowns changed consumer behavior more in the last five months than in the last five years—or even ten, Retailers have scrambled—and some have done an amazing job of reacting to switches in shopping behavior. Many of these behavioral changes are here to stay.

“The cataclysm has accelerated all the things we in retail knew had to happen anyway,” Ancketill said. 

Retailers must have the courage to accept what’s gone forever and continue to adapt to trends that will accelerate post-pandemic: the challenge of globalization, the de-leveraging of physical retail and the implications of the increasingly smart city.

Employee EngagementStop communicating with your stores… Start communicating with your people.

At Retail Zipline, we understand how important good communication is to creating a memorable customer experience. And empowering retailers to create great in-store customer experiences is what gets us going each and every morning and keeps us charged throughout the day. 

That’s why we jumped at the chance to partner with Coyle Hospitality Group to conduct a study to explore the experience of shoppers and employees in today’s retail environment. We went into the study looking to understand how consumers felt about holiday shopping and whether retailers were providing a festive shopping experience amid pandemic, but we found MUCH juicier insights. 

Want to see? Read on...

Expert InterviewsThree Ways to Step Up Your Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

Diversity, inclusion and equity are more important than ever. Brands are under pressure from employees and consumers to respond to the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many others, as well as to the demands for equality and access on the part of people of color. As companies take a hard look at their D&I initiatives and scramble to improve, it’s tempting to put on a Band-Aid instead of doing the long work.

On the first day of NRF’s 2021 Chapter One conference, Ronda Carnegie, chief innovation officer for The Female Quotient, led a panel that included Rebecca Allen, founder and CEO of footwear brand Rebecca Allen, Inc.; Chana Ginelle Ewing, founder and CEO of beauty marketplace GEENIE; and Christiane Pendarvis, co-president and chief merchandising and design officer for Savage x Fenty, Rihanna’s lingerie line. 

These retail experts were clear: Change starts inside the company, and internal communication must drive an organization’s diversity goals and initiatives.

Here are three ways retailers can make sure their messages about diversity and inclusion are delivered—and heard:

Industry TrendsSocial responsibility initiatives at The Home Depot and Ulta Beauty build authentic relationships

It was no surprise that at NRF this week, a big topic of conversation was brands’ responsibility to stand behind social and environmental causes. 2020, of course, was marked by an international pandemic, the BLM movement, and an incredibly contentious election. In light of what was happening in the world, all businesses were forced to reflect on what they stand for and how they use their resources to improve the world around them. 

As the moderator of Wednesday’s session on social responsibility noted, “Being a socially responsible company is no longer a point of distinction, it’s the expectation among stakeholders-- customers, employees, and capital investors.” 

NRF invited executives from two large brands to the table to discuss the role of social responsibility within retail; Ron Jarvis, chief sustainability officer at The Home Depot; and Dave Kimbell, ULTA Beauty president.

Retail ExecutionThe Link Between Employee Satisfaction and Store Execution

Today, WWD covered the news about a retail store execution study we just completed with Coyle Hospitality Group, the world's leading provider of customer experience consulting, quality assurance, and mystery shopping. The study focused on ~100 retailers in the US and Canada across different categories, including apparel, beauty, home improvement, grocery, C-store, pharmacy, and more. 

We send Coyle’s secret shoppers into these stores in November to answer questions across five categories: speed and convenience; signage; health and safety; sales execution; and holiday readiness. We wanted to find out what the holiday shopping season felt like for consumers (scary? festive?) and how store execution was faring amidst another wave of coronavirus.

In addition to the secret shopping data, we looked at brands’ websites to understand their corporate initiatives and Glassdoor ratings to understand employee satisfaction. Analysis of the complete data set provided us with some interesting insights. 

Expert InterviewsReact and Adapt - Transformation During Covid

At NRF today, Zipline CEO and Co-founder Melissa Wong moderated a Big Ideas session with three retail professionals, who also happen to be Zipline customers. The panel discussed how Covid-19 forced their businesses to stretch and flex in new ways. The truth is that no one was ready for the chaos of Covid. But, many retailers today are able to look back and say they’re operationally stronger than they were a year ago thanks to the pandemic.

Industry TrendsFour surprising ways Covid has changed the shopper journey

It’s no secret that Covid-19 has been a powerful catalyst for change in the retail industry. In the early months of pandemic, while scrambling to gain consumer trust, companies created quick solutions to address new standards of hygiene and safety. Now that shoppers are once again returning to physical stores, retailers are trying to build scalable, end-to-end experiences that will help their customers feel safe in the years to come.

When it comes to navigating this new normal, two brands in particular - Verizon and Suitsupply - are leading the way. Krista Bourna, SVP Consumer Sales & Operations at Verizon, and Fokke de Jong, CEO and Founder of Suitsupply, discussed their company’s learnings on stage at NRF. Here are four surprising takeaways from their talk:

Retail CommunicationsFive Easy Ways Retailers Can Streamline Internal Communications

In this article, we explain the communication challenges that retail stores face and the common traps we see retailers falling into. Finally, we share five easy ways you can streamline your internal communications as a retailer. These tips should help you not only improve store execution, but also engage your associates and makes them feel connected to your brand.

Industry TrendsModern Day Build Versus Buy

I recently watched an interview between CVS Health Chief Digital Officer Firdaus Bhathena and Executive Director of Engineering Mike Michel. During the online session, called CVS Health Live: Office Hours, the two discussed the latest trends in digital health and shared their perspectives on what’s coming next. One poignant moment dealt with the company’s decision to build, versus buy, new technology.

Of the decision, Mike Michel says, “Buy what accelerates you. Build what differentiates you.” Michel’s summary is the most succinct and thoughtful opinion that we have heard from a resource-rich organization that understands that they need to focus their internal development on technology solutions that will differentiate their health offerings. Other software vendors can help them accelerate their business.

Company NewsWhere to Find Zipline at NRF in January

Although we won’t be making our annual pilgrimage to New York this January for NRF, we’re deep into preparations for the virtual event. Here’s what you need to know about NRF this year and how you can catch up with Zipline.

Expert InterviewsTransforming In-Store Experiences for Future Retail: Three key takeaways from our Future Stores panel

This past week, our CEO and Co-Founder, Melissa Wong, joined three other industry experts to share their perspectives on delivering delightful customer experience amidst retail’s uncertain future: April Breunle, Director of Retail Showrooms for Lovesac, Matt Weder, Director of Retail Experience at Fleet Feet, and Jordan Ekers, Co-founder & Chief Customer Officer of Nudge.

Retail ExecutionWhat is Retail Task Management Software

Retail task management software, sometimes called retail communications software, is software that is typically purchased by the corporate office of a retail brand to help store teams understand what’s expected of them.

Most task management solutions provide store managers and teams with a checklist of store activities that need to be completed according to a specific timeline. Since retail associates are deskless workers, task management software is typically optimized for mobile devices.

Retail CommunicationsA Checklist for Associate Safety

At Retail Zipline, we believe that the key to associate safety lies in effective communication. In fact, we know this to be true because the data supports it. Our recent Health and Safety Compliance report shows that retailers that don’t use communication software underperform those that do across categories like friendliness, signage, traffic and safety. While any solution is better than no solution, Zipline customers outperform the competition. Why? Brands that use Zipline have put the right practices in place to keep the fleet safe.

Here’s a checklist that you can use to ensure your fleet is set up for success.

Retail CommunicationsWhy 2020 is Making Friends of Foes

During our virtual customer event a few months ago, many attendees expressed appreciation for being given the opportunity to share challenges and best practices with others in the industry. This year, we found customers far more likely to open up than in past years. 2020 has undoubtedly changed the way retailers think about competition. “We’re all in this together” has never been more true as retailers of every shape and size struggle with furloughs, store closures and health and safety compliance.

Retail CommunicationsElection Day 2020 - How Did We Get Here?

It’s election day in the US. Depending on where your stores are located, they might be boarded up again. We’re all crossing our fingers, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that retailers should be prepared in case demonstrations or celebrations take a violent turn. “Out of an abundance of caution” seems to be the catchphrase these days.

Retail Communications10 Ways to Supercharge Your Store Comms: Tips from Sephora’s Director of Communications

Whether it’s re-thinking loyalty programs, delivering same-day convenience to customers, or pioneering programs in support of inclusion and racial justice, beauty giant Sephora is a retailer that’s truly at the forefront of innovation. All that progress means it’s more important than ever that Sephora is able to align, engage, and inspire the employees that bring their innovative visions to life: the thousands of Beauty Advisors across more than 500 stores in the US and Canada.

We recently sat down with Tara Maffeo, Director of Communications at Sephora, to discuss how the brand has used Zipline to help prepare their teams for all the constant changes that come with managing an innovative business during COVID, and beyond.

Retail ExecutionPandemic-Fueled Grocery Trends and the Power of Store Comms

The grocery industry is seeing faster innovation than ever before, fueled, in part, by the pandemic. As grocers looked to meet customer expectations, many focused on contactless shopping, putting extra resources around online ordering, curbside pickup and delivery. In a Total Retail Podcast, Hy-Vee’s SVP and Chief Digital Officer, Jessica Ringena, said that the pandemic “accelerated e-commerce and online shopping by several years.” 

Industry TrendsHow Retail Zipline Protects Brands From Inevitable Covid Lawsuits

Chief Executive recently reported that more than 460 employment, labor and consumer lawsuits involving coronavirus safety claims were filed by the end of July. Regardless of how mindful you are about safety, any company that exposes its people to others is at risk of being sued.

Expert InterviewsWhere Passion Meets Retail

As retailers, you have the power to drive tremendous loyalty through store visits. When stores run smoothly and consumers have top notch experiences, online alternatives can’t compete. Here are three reasons why the best retail experiences occur in stores and not online:

Industry TrendsYour Tech Vendor Just Got Acquired - - Now What?

At the end of July, one of the companies in our space, Reflexis, was acquired by a publicly traded tech behemoth, Zebra Technologies, for $575 million. Given the size of the deal and the fact that a sizable number of our customers were using Reflexis before switching to Retail Zipline, many people have asked us for our opinion on the deal.

Company NewsHy-Vee Talks Store Comms with Total Retail

Today, Total Retail Talks featured a podcast with Zipline’s first grocery customer, Hy-Vee. In the episode, Joe Keenan, Total Retail’s Editor, speaks with Jessica Ringena, Hy-Vee’s SVP and Chief Digital Officer, about how the midwest grocery retailer is faring in the midst of Covid-19 and how the company is keeping its 86,000 employees safe.

Industry TrendsLitigation and Retail - Protecting Your Brand From Harm

If you’re like most retailers, the threat of litigation is something you contend with regularly. With a pandemic still running rampant while stores reopen, many retailers are looking for software solutions to protect them from potential lawsuits.

Retail Zipline is designed to reduce risk and save retailers money by shortening investigations, providing a single source of truth, making it easy to demonstrate compliance, and substantially reducing the likelihood of being hit with huge fines or difficult lawsuits.

Retail CommunicationsAn Introduction to Store Communications

Store Communications - sometimes referred to as Retail Communications or Field Communications - is the internal communication that happens between a retailer’s headquarters and store teams. In the broadest sense, it’s “how HQ tells stores what they need to do.”

In retail, innovation can’t just exist inside the minds of the folks in the C-suite. Big, revenue-driving ideas only matter if they’re correctly executed in the stores. The link between HQ’s ideas and in-store execution is Store Communication.

Expert InterviewsCustomer Spotlight: Fjällräven

In her role as director of brand stores for Fjällräven North America, Sarah’s personal goal is to improve the experience for retail employees. In her first six months on the job, she visited every store and spent time with each of the 30 store managers to uncover what was working and where things could be improved. Not surprisingly, since it’s a problem for most retailers, she uncovered frustration around how communication flowed from headquarters to the fleet.

Industry TrendsHow Customers Influence the Product Development Process

At Zipline, we have a strong philosophy around retail communication and want our customers to buy-in to that vision and trust in our method of driving store execution, compliance, and happier employees. But, we also know that stores, HQ and upper field are constantly coming up with ideas to solve today’s challenges. That’s why we lead with conviction but know we can only win by really listening to customers.

Expert InterviewsHow Maurices Faced Down Covid-19 and Won

No retailer was prepared for Covid-19. But, some were able to navigate the uncharted waters better than others. A great example is maurices, an American women's clothing retail chain with more than 900 stores based in Duluth, Minnesota. Although the pandemic challenged the team operationally, they were able to flex muscles they didn’t know they had to come out stronger than before in terms of skills, culture and business results.

Retail CommunicationsRESILIENT RETAIL | Surviving through shutdown

We took a look at the approaches that set resilient retailers apart from the rest. These are the strategies and tactics that provided a competitive advantage when nothing was business as usual:

Industry TrendsFive Things Convenience Store Customers are Looking for in a Loyalty Program

Retail is a tough business. (Understatement of the year, right?) Consumers are swimming in a sea of seemingly endless options, all competing for their limited attention and disposable income. What’s the secret to business success? Your existing customers. It’s five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than keep a current one. And, current customers spend 67% more than new ones. 

Industry TrendsWhat it means to be in service to stores

When scheduling becomes all about efficiency, workers suffer. They wind up with unpredictable shifts, which means they can’t adequately plan for childcare or classes, which is why many of them take retail jobs in the first place. In addition, they can’t accurately plan for how much income they will make month to month, since their employers can’t guarantee them a fixed number of hours. For most retail workers, the situation is frustrating, depressing and completely avoidable. 

Retail ExecutionWhy Retailers With Complex Organizational Structures Require Specialized Communications Solutions

If you have ever wondered how the best retailers in the world ensure that 100% of their fleet see and act on every HQ directive, you can stop wondering. It just doesn’t happen. The truth is that average store execution hovers at less than 30% and even the best retailers who focus on communication with the fleet don’t break 90%. And, that’s for retailers with simple organizational structures such as a single headquarters office and company-owned stores.

Industry TrendsHere’s the hardest thing about recalling furloughed workers. (Spoiler alert: It’s not the paperwork.)

Assuming you've been in touch with your work team members, you may have an idea where their mind is at; or maybe you only think you know. According to a recent international study of more than 2,000 employees conducted in March-April 2020, furloughed workers are 37% more likely to report mental health declines during the pandemic. What are things that weigh heavily in their minds? Some of their concerns are not so obvious.

Retail CommunicationsRetail Communications post-COVID: A Q&A with Retail Zipline CEO and Co-Founder, Melissa Wong

As CEO and Co-Founder of Retail Zipline, and formerly a Communications executive at a Fortune 500 retail company, Melissa has a unique perspective on how retailers across the country are dealing with perhaps the biggest change of all: COVID-19. We sat down with Melissa to talk about the shifts she’s seeing in communications best practices as retailers adjust to life amidst the pandemic.

Industry TrendsWhy SIP Didn’t Stop Leading Retailers From Implementing New Technology

Because Retail Zipline is a fully remote company, we watched our customers and prospects adapt to a new way of working and were pleasantly surprised to see how quickly it felt normal to ‘jump on a zoom’ instead of waiting a week or two for an in-person meeting.

Nick Coughlan, a sales director at Zipline, was in the middle of a deal with a large grocery chain when shelter in place orders were issued and non-essential workers began working from home. He explains his experience working with retailers during the pandemic in the following interview: 

Industry TrendsThe Store of the Future is going to need a communication upgrade

New sanitization standards, sticky floor mats, installation of temperature technology… all of that stuff requires instructions and guidelines be sent to stores, somehow. That 65-page operating manual, those training guidelines, that new print-in-store signage… all of that stuff has to live somewhere. And all of that stuff has to be sent and accessed in such a way so that all of a retailers’ locations - sometimes upwards of thousands - can give customers the same experience. 

All of these changes - as well as the reasons behind them - will need to be communicated to stores.

Here are five reasons why your “Store of the Future” is going to need a communication platform upgrade:

Company NewsAn Update from Zipline

Over the last week, we’ve been discussing and questioning how we have come to this point in history. In small groups and in all-company meetings, we have been educating ourselves and discussing how Zipline can help make a difference. Before speaking publicly, we wanted to ensure that definitive actions were underway so our words would be meaningful and not hollow. But we realize that the movement needs every voice and we don’t have the luxury of staying silent while developing an action plan.

Retail ExecutionHow HR and Internal Comms can strategically lead companies out of shutdown

In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, communication glitches now comes with a higher price: mistakes will adversely impact employee trust, commitment and loyalty. How well a company’s employees perform in their roles will influence how customers evaluate that company’s level of safety measures and concern for their well-being. And those impressions will influence their decisions as to if or how soon they return to do business with that company. 

Employees need to see consistency in a company’s direction and expectations so they can confidently follow the directives and perform their tasks. With this in mind, it’s imperative that companies, perhaps more than ever before, ensure messages are aligned from all departments.

Industry TrendsBrace Yourself: Returns are Coming

Online returns suck. Very few people want to print a shipping label and wait in line at the post office (does anybody even have a printer anymore?). And even fewer want to pay for return shipping. The alternative? Head to your nearest brick and mortar store with those wrinkled poly bags full of last season’s fashions in tow. 

So, what’s a retailer to do? Returns - especially online returns - are a huge source of friction of customers and associates alike. But companies that take the time now to prepare their field teams via clear and consistent communication will come out on top. Here are a few practical tips to help your stores weather the storm of returns.

Retail CommunicationsIn Service to Stores

For the first time in history, executives at the highest level are paying attention to the needs of the everyday retail worker. While many companies, like Starbucks, Wegmans and Publix have long championed their associates, others are just starting to acknowledge the needs of the hourly employee and link the success of their businesses to the success of this employee-group.

What do these retail employees, especially those new to the job, need to be successful? According to the experts, they need great onboarding, regular communication from HQ and the ability to be heard.

Retail ExecutionThe Way You Collect Feedback Matters

All feedback - even the most anecdotal - is useful. Consumer trends are changing faster than ever, and executive teams need to flex and respond accordingly. Feedback can tell them if their marketing campaigns are working. It can inform the next season’s ad buys or inventory investments. It can pinpoint where training is needed, and where teams are struggling. 

But all feedback loops are not created equal. 

Learn the four main types of feedback retailers need, along with the right (and wrong) ways to collect it.

Retail Communications5 Reasons Why Settling for an Intranet is Costing You Execution

intranets are not built for daily communication and task management. They were born out of a need for a work team document repository. And while they’re ubiquitous across every professional industry, an old school, document-based intranet isn’t where a busy store leader wants to spend valuable time, hunting for that one nugget of info to complete a task. Don’t believe us? Here are five reasons why settling for an intranet is hurting your store execution:

Retail ExecutionWhy Covid-19 is Driving Innovation in Gas Stations

Covid-19 is driving gas stations and c-stores to undergo radical changes to ensure customer and staff health and safety . While operational changes are easy to list out on your website, driving in-store execution is a big challenge, especially if you have multiple stores with hourly employees. How do you get the message out to every single associate and ensure that it’s heard? If you’re like most c-stores, you’re using multiple channels to reach them, but somehow your messages aren’t making it all the way down to the stores and execution is still suffering.

Company NewsThe Magic of Alignment - Why we donated $25k to Hy-Vee's Food Bank Campaign

To commemorate our partnership with Hy-Vee, Retail Zipline made a commitment to support Hy-Vee’s food bank campaign. For every new Hy-Vee platform user that signed up before May 31, Retail Zipline would donate $1, up to $25,000, to the campaign. Hy-Vee would also match Retail Zipline’s contribution dollar for dollar to help support food banks feeding those in need during this national pandemic.

Employee EngagementHow to Help Your Store Associates Deal with Change

In early February, more than a month before COVID-19 became a household name, Forbes published an article titled, How To Fight Change Fatigue With Better Internal Communications. The article was written by Elizabeth Baskin, CEO and Executive Creative Director at Tribe, Inc. The article is particularly pertinent to retail companies today that are dealing with Covid-19-related challenges, such as constantly changing policies and new health guidelines for retail stores.

Industry TrendsHow Essential Retailers are Helping Their Communities During COVID-19

In this article, we look at how eight leading essential retailers are helping those less fortunate in their communities during the pandemic. What stands out to us is that these companies rolled out these programs in the midst of what can only be described as the most chaotic few weeks of these businesses’ existence. To be able to innovate, move quickly and coordinate these efforts is a testament to the leadership and values of these brands. 

Industry TrendsThe Future of Grocery: What’s in Store (and what’s not)

With much of brick and mortar retail grinding to a halt during the pandemic, grocery stores are booming. Products are flying off the shelves more quickly than stores can re-stock. Many analysts believe that with the emergence of COVID-19, we are entering into a new age of grocery, one where the customer experience shifts to the convenience of online ordering and delivery, while still maintaining a safe and shoppable environment within stores’ four walls. To understand other trends, we looked to the experts to understand what good store execution will look like in the “new normal.” 

Industry TrendsHow Essential Retailers are Giving Back to Employees During COVID-19

We know that this period feels like holiday season X 1000 for essential retailers. The volume of communication, changes and updates are happening at a neck breaking pace. It’s chaotic and stressful for employees. But the stories that we hear of companies taking care of their essential workers during the pandemic give us hope that retail associates are finally being recognized and rewarded for the work they do to represent brands. Here are just a few examples of companies stepping up to do right by store associates.

Industry TrendsFive Insights from Cannabis Retailers Navigating COVID-19

Deemed essential businesses in 30 states, cannabis stores have been allowed to stay open during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place. Advice from cannabis leaders can help retailers from other industries prepare for store reopenings. Here are five tips we gleaned from a recent FlowerHire webinar and articles published over the last few weeks.

Industry TrendsWhy Retailers Are Moving Forward With Tech Initiatives Despite Covid-19

A Retail Dive brief reports that lululemon, despite impacts from the coronavirus outbreak across its markets is sticking to its Power of Three growth plan after closing a $1.4 billion fourth quarter. In sports terms, we call this ‘beast mode.’

Other retailers are showing similar winning attitudes despite the current situation. They know that investing now will allow them to emerge as better, more agile companies after Covid-19.  L.L.Bean was ready to launch big technology initiatives just as the pandemic was closing stores around the globe. Rather than delay the projects, the company decided to move forward. We recently sat down with Corey Bouyea, Sr. Manager Store Operations, to learn more.

Retail CommunicationsHow Retailers are using Communications Platforms to Manage Crisis

At the end of March, WWD ran a story titled, Tech Solutions, Strategies Help Brands and Retailers Manage Crisis. In the article, the author shares how Zipline is helping companies  “inform teams with accurate and timely information about COVID-19, including in-store protocols to keep both customers and employees safe.”

To learn more about how companies used Zipline’s communication and task management platform to manage the COVID-19 crisis, we sat down with Dave So, Retail Operations Manager at AG LEGO® Certified Stores. Beginning in March, Dave used Zipline’s COVID-19 hub to help Australia and New Zealand’s largest group of custom-built LEGO retail experiences, Bricks Megastore, manage the crisis.

Retail ExecutionStore Execution - Ten Percent is Not Enough

When Zipline co-founder, Melissa Wong was wooing her technical co-founder, Jeremy Baker, to join her in her mission to improve retail store communications, she had him read a research paper by Pareto’s Dr. Hugh Phillips, an expert on the cognitive psychology of shopping, what consumers perceive in store and how they process information in their decision making. The research paper revealed that over 90% of effectiveness of a retail marketing campaign is lost between concept (at HQ) to execution (in stores). Read more about why store execution suffers and what you can do about it.

Retail CommunicationsWhat We Can Learn From Retailers that Have Reopened in China

As COVID-19 made its way from China to the rest of the world, the staggered path of the virus provided a silver lining - allowing health experts, governments, economists and others to look to China as an example of what the rest of the world can expect in the future. In this article, we share five lessons from China retailers that have reopened stores following COVID-19.

Retail CommunicationsBest Practices for Comms During Crisis

The international crisis that continues to unfold each day is shining a spotlight on the importance of retail store communication. If companies can easily and efficiently convey information to their employees, wherever they are, they can ensure everyone understands new safety policies and procedures and is able to communicate a single message to customers. 

Industry TrendsCOVID-19: Retail Response Best Practices

In these uncertain times, it can be hard to know how to ease fear, keep your employees safe, and communicate and share updates as the situation around coronavirus (COVID-10) continues to evolve. Our talented team, many of which are former retail professionals, have been putting our heads together and came up with a few best practices for communicating during a crisis that we wanted to share with you.

Industry TrendsHow COVID Woke up Retail and Drove Lasting Innovation

Sarah Tava, Director of Brand Stores at Fjällräven North America, spends her days making sure that her fleet of stores is equipped with what they need. This is no small feat, to begin with, even before the challenges that 2020 brought to the mix. 

Still, despite the pandemic, Fjällräven was able to accelerate innovation and accomplish great things. Last year saw the brand open four more stores in major cities in North America. In the height of store closures, Fjällräven was able to keep their employees on board and engaged with ship-from-store capabilities, creating an infrastructure to strengthen store operations even when Covid-19 threatened to cripple it. 

At Future Stores Connect 2021, Retail Zipline CEO and Co-Founder Melissa Wong chatted with Sarah about how Fjällräven was able to transform operationally to be more responsive to market demands and meet customers where they were.

Industry TrendsZ-Tail Report: Gen Z Shopping Habits

As retailers create new strategies to engage shoppers through unique in-store experiences, study reveals 58% of Gen Z prefers a physical shopping experience.

Retail ExecutionThe Importance of Store Execution in Loss Prevention

Loss prevention professionals are constantly updating policies to meet the newest threats, but it’s up to store teams to execute them.

Employee EngagementHow Product Knowledge Affects Sales Execution

Brick-and-mortar customers are looking for something they couldn’t get online. Often, that’s deep product knowledge, and store employees need to be ready.

Retail ExecutionThe Importance of Store Execution in Rolling Out New Technology

Technology is the key to success for brick-and-mortar retailers, but it’s up to store teams to use it. Follow these steps to make your rollout a success.

Employee EngagementThe BYOD Deep Dive

Wondering if you should allow BYOD in your retail stores? It’s already there. Here’s what you need to know.

Retail CommunicationsSelling a Store Comms Platform Internally

Sometimes the people who do the work are the ones who find the solution. Then they need to get others to buy in.

Retail ExecutionStore Execution and Its Impact on Category Management

Even the best category management can fall apart if stores don’t execute tasks like replenishment, setting promotional displays, completing recalls, etc.

Retail CommunicationsThe Promises and Perils of Promotional Displays

A well-executed promotional display is a great way to boost retail sales – if you execute it correctly.

Employee EngagementThe Role of the Modern Store Communications Team

A well-organized store comms team armed with the right tools can be the key to better retail execution.

Retail Communications12 Questions to Consider Before Buying a Communications and Task Management Solution

Learn the key questions to ask when evaluating a SaaS retail communications platform.

Store ExperienceWhen It Comes to Shopping, Brick-and-Mortar Takes the Prize

Why brick-and-mortar retailers who deliver on customer experience are thriving.

Retail ExecutionThe Power of Physical Stores to Woo Online Shoppers

Brick-and-mortar retailers can lure online shoppers by offering compelling in-store experiences.

Employee EngagementBest Practices for Boosting Retail Employee Engagement

Engaged employees lead to profitable companies. Try these 5 tips to help increase engagement among store employees.

Retail Communications5 Steps To Better Store Communication (Updated for 2021)

How retailers can improve communications between HQ and stores, and make sure their messages stick.

Store ExperienceWhat Walmart’s Cleanliness Experiment Teaches about Customer Feedback

Walmart learned the hard way how to solicit and interpret customer feedback.

Store ExperienceRetailers Reinventing Themselves

How Target, Walmart, and even Sears are rethinking their approaches to stores.

Industry TrendsSurviving the Dreaded Middle

The "middle class" of retail is getting squeezed. Here's what they can do to fight.

Store ExperienceHow Brick and Mortar Affects Digital Sales

The halo effect physical stores have on digital retail, and how that should impact your retail strategy.

Industry TrendsGen Z and Retail

Where Gen Z differs from the Millennial generation, and what it means for brick-and-mortar stores.

Retail ExecutionFrom Click to Brick

Why digitally native retailers are turning to physical stores as a new growth channel.

Industry TrendsRetail: Learning from Banks

What retailers should learn from banks about creating engaging customer experiences in their brick-and-mortar spaces.

Store ExperiencePersonalization and Localization in Stores

How three retailers are using technology to improve the brick-and-mortar experience.

Employee EngagementLessons on Employee Engagement

Other industries have addressed employee engagement in creative ways.

Industry TrendsBrick and Mortar Success in a Digital World

Using physical stores to enhance customer experience and thrive in a digital landscape.

Industry TrendsLearning from Digital Native Retailers

What traditional retailers should take away from their digital native counterparts.

Store ExperienceInnovations That Could Help Transform Store Experience

What to expect from new twists on bluetooth and smart checkout.

Retail ExecutionHow Kohl’s is Breathing New Life Into an Old Model

What retailers can learn from Kohl’s right-size makeover.

Retail CommunicationsFrench Merlots and Pink Flamingos

Thoughts on retail strategy from Down Under – Part II

Industry TrendsAustralian Lessons for American Retailers

Cautionary tales from Starbucks, Amazon, and beyond.

Employee EngagementStop communicating with your stores… Start communicating with your people.

At Retail Zipline, we understand how important good communication is to creating a memorable customer experience. And empowering retailers to create great in-store customer experiences is what gets us going each and every morning and keeps us charged throughout the day. 

That’s why we jumped at the chance to partner with Coyle Hospitality Group to conduct a study to explore the experience of shoppers and employees in today’s retail environment. We went into the study looking to understand how consumers felt about holiday shopping and whether retailers were providing a festive shopping experience amid pandemic, but we found MUCH juicier insights. 

Want to see? Read on...

Employee EngagementHow to Help Your Store Associates Deal with Change

In early February, more than a month before COVID-19 became a household name, Forbes published an article titled, How To Fight Change Fatigue With Better Internal Communications. The article was written by Elizabeth Baskin, CEO and Executive Creative Director at Tribe, Inc. The article is particularly pertinent to retail companies today that are dealing with Covid-19-related challenges, such as constantly changing policies and new health guidelines for retail stores.

Employee EngagementHow Product Knowledge Affects Sales Execution

Brick-and-mortar customers are looking for something they couldn’t get online. Often, that’s deep product knowledge, and store employees need to be ready.

Employee EngagementThe BYOD Deep Dive

Wondering if you should allow BYOD in your retail stores? It’s already there. Here’s what you need to know.

Employee EngagementThe Role of the Modern Store Communications Team

A well-organized store comms team armed with the right tools can be the key to better retail execution.

Employee EngagementBest Practices for Boosting Retail Employee Engagement

Engaged employees lead to profitable companies. Try these 5 tips to help increase engagement among store employees.

Employee EngagementLessons on Employee Engagement

Other industries have addressed employee engagement in creative ways.

Employee EngagementWhy Investing in Employee Engagement is the Key to Great In-Store Execution

Employee engagement is one of the key factors that keeps turnover low while leading to great execution.