The internet is rife with apocalyptic predictions -- probably because they generate so much traffic.
But many of them never materialize, including all of the doom-and-gloom predictions about the looming “Retail Apocalypse.” Despite the convenience of online shopping, 61% of consumers still prefer to shop with a brand that has brick-and-mortar stores than with brands that are online-only.
But that doesn’t mean that brick-and-mortar retailers can sit back and relax. Not only do they have to work hard to keep up with changing customer expectations -- like the current focus on “customer experience” -- they have to fine-tune their messaging. Because no matter how good a retailer’s organizational strategy is, it won’t matter if the store teams don’t execute.
There are countless factors involved in effective store communication, but these five steps cover the most critical ones.
5 steps to better store communication
Store communications should be simple, but competing agendas, message overload, and too much background noise often muddy the waters. Fortunately, taking these five steps can help you send clear, actionable messages that make it unscathed from headquarters to the right people on your store teams.
1. Centralize all messaging in one place.
Everybody has their favorite way of receiving and sending messages. Some like email, some like texting, some like chatbots, etc. In the end, though, that leads to too much time spent checking a bunch of different channels and too many messages that get missed. Centralizing messages in one portal is one of the most basic, foundational things you can do to improve store communications.
Eliminate mixed messages by giving everyone the same insights.
Ask anyone who’s worked in store communications, and they’re bound to have a story about different departments sending out conflicting messages at the same time. When that happens, it drastically slows execution, as store employees scramble to figure out which message they’re supposed to follow.
Another benefit of centralizing store communications is that all functional leaders can see which messages their colleagues are sending, hopefully giving them time to reconcile their differences before they cause confusion in the stores.
2. Cut the clutter by segmenting your audience.
Stores can be overwhelmed with messages to read and tasks to complete. In fact, 64% of respondents to one survey identified their biggest challenge as the sheer number of messages flowing from headquarters to stores. Smart retailers can cut the clutter by sending messages only to the people who need to see them – much like how you segment marketing messages.
Not only will this keep employees from wasting time reading messages that don’t apply to them, it can also help you avoid legal problems. With more and more countries passing legislation regarding consumer data and privacy, what’s perfectly legal in one country could land your organization in regulatory hot water in another. It’s easier and safer to send messages to everyone who needs them and no one who doesn’t.
3. Get to the point.
While some messages – changes to the benefits plan, for example – require thorough explanation, task-oriented messages work a lot better when they get straight to the point. All it takes is three simple steps:
- Explain what the organization is trying to accomplish.
- Explain why it’s important.
- Tell store employees what you need them to do and when they need to do it.
But don’t be boring.
“To the point” doesn’t have to mean boring. From funny gifs to explainer videos that show employees what to do instead of telling them, you can get your message across succinctly without putting employees to sleep.
4. Don’t fall victim to “send and forget.”
How many of the emails in your inbox right now will you actually read? Only the ones that you think are most relevant, right? Store employees are no different. On the other hand, today’s retail leaders can’t afford for their messages to disappear down a black hole. They need to know what happens once stores receive them. After all, emails that are never read lead to tasks that are never completed. To get the most out of your messaging, include a way to track which messages have been opened and which tasks have been completed (so you’ll know when some gentle nudging is in order).
5. Give employees a way to talk back.
Sometimes employees have questions about how to complete a task, especially if their store footprint is a bit different from the norm. Sometimes they discover a mistake that headquarters missed. And sometimes they just need to let somebody know that completing the tasks is taking more time than anticipated, so they need permission to staff up before customer service suffers. Whatever the reason, good store communications always includes a way for store employees to send messages back up the chain of command.
Innovation without information is stagnation.
The mantra “change or die” has never been more true than for today’s brick-and-mortar retailers. But change and innovation can’t just exist inside the minds of the folks in the C-suite; those big ideas only matter if they’re correctly executed in the stores. And the link between ideas and execution is communication. Retail Zipline, a complete store communications solution, was founded by retailers, for retailers, so that all of the effort you put into keeping ahead of your competitors doesn’t die a slow death in the communication pipeline.
Want to make sure your ideas make it all the way from concept to execution? Get in touch today to schedule a demo.