The growth of digital and mobile technologies has changed the way consumers interact with retailers. Retailers are working hard to provide the unique and seamless in-store experience consumers are expecting from them as it can be a powerful differentiator. However, one thing that often restrains retailer’s efforts is poor in-store execution.

What are we talking about? When your brand standards, VM guidelines, marketing and promotional strategy are not executed as planned and instructed to your stores. In-store execution issues lead to poor customer experience and ultimately decreased revenues.

Situation #1- Disparities in store experiences

The first thing that bad execution cause is inconsistent customer experience across stores. Retailers struggle to provide the same rigorous compliance of standards across all locations. Brand standards are set to ensure consistency but are often neglected at store level. The reason behind that is that they are not monitored. In fact, only 30% of retailers check in-store compliance more than once a month (1).

This is a major problem as the image a customer will get from one of your stores, positive or negative, will impact the entire brand. Shoppers who had a disappointing experience might never come back to your stores. To provide a consistent experience retailers must ensure the appearance of all their stores is harmonized to make them recognisable. To achieve it they need to monitor compliance more efficiently to be able to correct issues immediately.

Situation #2 - Products in the wrong place

Picture this. You walk past a store and see a very nice dress in the window. You weren’t planning to go shopping but you really like that dress so you walk into the store. Unfortunately, when you enter the store it isn’t displayed close to the entrance and you can’t find that dress anywhere. You ask one of the sales associates but she has no idea where it is. This wasn’t the experience you were expecting so you walk out. You wouldn’t have been the only one doing that.

If customers can’t find the product they are looking for, they get frustrated and leave. Retailers spend time and money to create visual displays to drive store traffic and to make customers buy products they weren’t planning to buy. If the VM strategy is not executed accurately and on time this is not going to happen.

Situation #3 - Online/Offline inconsistency

Consumers are expecting more from physical stores. In fact, 68% of shoppers say they expect their online experience to be duplicated in store (2). But today’s consumers not only expect a great shopping experience, they want it to a consistent online and offline. Yet, only 22% of shoppers claim their cross-channel shopping experience is harmonised (2).

Consumers go in-store to try, see and feel products and then go online to buy them and vice versa. If they see a promotion online but cannot find it in-store they get frustrated. The two channels shouldn’t be disconnected. Poor execution leads to these kinds of situations. It’s very easy to update a product price on your e-commerce website but it’s another story to make sure it has been updated across your entire store network. The only way to ensure consistency is to make it easy for sales associates to know what they have to do and monitor what’s going on so you can correct issues if needed!

(1) RIS News, Optimizing in-store merchandising
(2) Manhattan Associates