7 Challenges in Retail Operations

The role of an Operations Manager brings with it a wealth of responsibilities; from anticipating store needs to ensuring quality standards and increasing productivity, the challenges are many and varied. But that also brings rewards, in being able to play a key role in the success and growth of the business.

The role is crucial for managing the brand’s strategic approach to onsite operations. Here, we take a look at some of the challenges facing retail Operations professionals. Do they resonate with you? Have we missed any? We’d love to hear how you overcome these in your role. 

 

1.      Managing Scope of Responsibility

The remit of Operations is wide, collaborating with departments including HR, Finance, IT, Marketing and Logistics. Operations is usually first on the list for project management, implementation and troubleshooting; so the sheer breadth of the role can be intense.  

The breadth of scope requires extraordinary multi-tasking skills, as well as knowledge of a variety of areas of the business. It’s essential to understand what’s required to enable stores to perform, and how this fits with business objectives. Simply spending time ‘on the floor’ across your various stores is invaluable for developing this knowledge; enabling you to know exactly what will help staff in their roles.

 

2. Adapting to Changing Needs

Operations is a fast-paced environment, with a lot of plate-spinning! Priorities change, so being able to confidently adapt is a vital skill. Yet, being super organised is also necessary, so balance is required. With numerous requests piling up, managing expectations and prioritising workload can be a challenge.  

Managing conflict between departments or processes is another area of concern. Clashes can adversely affect the efficiency or productivity of operations, so it’s necessary to ensure that quality processes and standards are met. As the glue between departments, encouraging collaborative communications and goals between stakeholders can help get everyone on the same path.

 

3. Ensuring Process Quality and Best Practice

Often staff avoids tasks or admin that takes the focus away from customers on the shop floor. However, reporting and data quality processes must be met. Errors can cost a business, and not just in terms of data security and reputation. Without the necessary sales information it’s difficult to assess productivity, budgets and targets effectively. 

One way to ensure process quality is to implement systems that record only relevant information; if possible via automated technology that prompts the user or flags errors. Education is helpful; explain why the processes are important (and how they will ultimately help staff to be more successful).  

 

4. Implementing New Processes

So, you’ve finally selected a new supplier or system that will reduce costs and improve efficiency (hooray!). Implementing the new process can be fraught with hurdles, making you wonder if the benefits are worth it. Challenges may include;  

•      Loss of productivity during implementation and training period

•      Promised budget or resources unavailable

•      Disruption to the supply chain

•      Employees reluctant or unable to adapt to the new system

Operations teams need to be strong at not only identifying improvements, but also ensuring employee engagement and driving change forward.

 To reduce the risk and ensure successful implementation, relevant stakeholders need to be included early on to encourage buy-in. Again, education and additional performance support during the transition should encourage better commitment from all parties.    

 

5. Focus on Innovation and Improvement

In the quest to ensure streamlined Operations teams always need to be one step ahead. Do store staff have everything they need to give great service? Are they lacking equipment or processes? Part of the job is anticipating needs before your teams know they have them!  

With a focus on efficiency, it’s crucial to focus on innovation and improvement. This could mean seeking new ways to reduce overheads, or introducing innovative ways to increase productivity. Consolidating suppliers may bring cost reductions and simpler processes, while implementing a robust Goods Not For Resale (GNFR) solution will also free-up staff time.

 

6. Sourcing and Developing Talent       

Surrounding yourself with a great team is no easy feat. Successful businesses need great people to prosper; and this element of the Operations role is fundamental. As well as finding talent, employees must be trained, supported and developed – the responsibility for which falls into the Operations remit, in conjunction with HR and Training.

Employees must feel supported and able to meet KPI’s, and have the necessary resources to do so. Reward and motivation initiatives must fit operationally, along with well-planned schemes for on-boarding and development. Demonstrating effective leadership is central to meeting sales and profit targets.     

 

7. Supporting Customer Satisfaction

As a customer-centric retailer, ensuring customer satisfaction is not just down to sales or marketing. Operationally, your teams are interacting with customers every day; there is no better way of knowing what customers like and what they don’t! You are well placed to report any problems and implement processes to help solve them.

KPI’s can play a key role here. Ensuring that customer-facing employees can access relevant information at the right time is an effective way to resolve issues. Technical support can assist this further, providing real-time guidance and suggesting relevant prompts or resolutions.

 

Optimise efficiency

The Operations team is an invaluable element of any business; improving efficiency, reducing costs and driving company performance. As someone that plays a vital role in enabling your business to succeed, we’d like to do the same for you.

If you’re looking to optimise efficiency, don’t overlook your internal operations. Our GNFR solution will help you to:

 

•      Reduce operating costs

•      Ensure effective overhead/spend management

•      Simplify processes through one order, one invoice and one delivery

 

To find out more, speak to us today.

 

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