April 24, 2019
April 24, 2019
This post was originally published June 13 2018 and has been updated for relevance and clarity.
A successful in-store execution strategy is why shopping in a store is so magical. It's how a really cool idea transforms from the theoretical into reality.
People don't shop in stores to buy products.
They shop to be inspired. They shop for an immersive experience.
Inspiring, immersive experiences don't happen by accident. Retailers have to create them and implement them in stores.
And it's imperative to get it right these days, because the perfect omni-channel shopping experience can’t exist without stores.
This article will help you better support your store teams by implementing the 3 core components of a successful in-store execution strategy.
Let's start with the basics. What is a successful in-store execution strategy?
In-store execution is the correct implementation of brand guidelines, promotions and everything else required to provide the perfect customer experience.
Successful in-store execution is the quick, consistent and perfect implementation of all these things without putting a massive strain on store teams.
So, a successful in-store execution strategy is a set of behaviors, best practices and technologies that make quick, consistent and perfect implementation easy for store teams.
Why is a successful in-store execution strategy crucial for retailers?
A solid in-store execution strategy helps retailers:
It helps store teams:
It helps consumers:
But what happens when a retailer has no in-store execution strategy, or an insufficient one?
Why is in-store execution a challenge for retailers?
Coming up with the idea is the fun part, but getting it 100% completed isn’t as easy. That’s why it’s easier to buy the expensive gym membership than it is to wake up at 5:30 AM and actually go.
Deloitte estimates that 90% of companies fail to execute on their strategy. But execution is more difficult for retailers. Why?
Here are the 3 things every retailer needs for a successful in-store execution strategy.
Component 1: A detailed plan for stores to execute on
Every retailer wants an exceptional customer experience. But not every retailer has thought through what this looks like in every store, down to the tiniest detail.
If these details aren't part of the scope of the plan, execution will be mediocre at best.
When a retailer has a successful in-store execution strategy, the ideal journey through the physical store has been mapped out.
This includes everything from finding the nearest location (and the correct opening hours) on Google Maps through to being thanked for their purchase before leaving the store. Your plan is what the perfect customer experience looks and feels like.
Things like lighting, temperature and how often fitting room mirrors are cleaned are part of this plan, and should be consistent in every store.
Sales associates are a huge part of the customer journey - how they greet customers, the technology they’re equipped with to help shoppers, and the procedures they use to solve difficult situations.
A successful plan specifies how the ideal in-store experience makes every shopper feel special. Sales associates are a huge part of this. Shoppers are happiest when they feel like sales associates are going the extra mile to help them.
When we asked the YOOBIC team to tell us about their best and worst in-store experiences, sales associates were a big source of frustration.
So if the retailer hasn’t figured out every detail of how they want sales associates to interact with customers, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Each store is different, too. Footfall is different, store size and layout are different, and a good in-store execution strategy addresses these differences.
Key takeaway: Your in-store execution plan is a blueprint for stores about what success looks like. If it's unclear in any way, the in-store experience will suffer.
Component 2: A store team-friendly way to communicate your plan
So now we have our incredible customer journey all mapped out. Every detail is perfect. How do we get this into stores?
All retailers send guidelines and instructions to their stores. The problem is, it’s not in a format that facilitates easy store follow-through.
For HQ, printing off 20 page stacks of paper guidelines and mailing them off to stores could be something they’ve been doing for years, so they haven’t given it much thought.
But for store teams, it’s a headache.
When a retailer has a successful strategy for communicating with stores, point of sale materials and guidelines always arrive on time, and rarely have any parts missing.
99% of the time, stores receive the correct materials.
But what if the store does receive the wrong guidelines, or their display is missing a stand? A good communication strategy includes an easy way for stores to ask for help and flag issues.
Mistakes happen, and need to be resolved as quickly as possible.
Whether it be training, planograms or point of sale materials, a good communication strategy formats information specifically for people on the go with lots of competing priorities.
To master a successful in-store execution strategy, the retailer needs to understand that the smooth day-to-day running of the store is a bigger priority for store teams than perfectly following the plan HQ sends out.
Store teams are more concerned with making sure shelves are stocked than they are with making sure a new collection is launched on time.
So if HQ wants everything implemented perfectly, they’ll need to see things from the store's point of view and make visual, operational and training tasks easy to understand and complete.
Key takeaway: Sending VM guidelines, promotional materials, and daily operational tasks to stores in the same way you did 10 years ago means that things aren't getting done and your customer experience is suffering.
Component 3: Consistent monitoring, measuring and analysis of how stores are executing on the plan
A new store concept might be innovative and look incredible, but does it actually drive sales?
And if it doesn’t, could the reason be that confusing instructions prevented its correct implementation?
Store visits are great ways to audit overall store performance and give teams extra coaching and training, but aren't enough to constitute monitoring.
That's because area managers are even busier than store teams and don't have the bandwidth to frequently check in on every store.
Some stores might only get a visit once every 6 months. That's 6 months where the in-store experience could be completely wrong, and 6 months of lost revenue.
A feedback loop is needed to communicate the plan, then see how the plan has been executed on.
Monitoring is the first step in making sure the correct customer experience ends up in stores, on time. By monitoring store progress, retailers can determine what works, what doesn't, and make the appropriate changes.
Key takeaway: You can't improve what you can't measure.
Where do I start?
Here's what you'll need to start implementing the 3 core components of a successful in-store execution strategy:
Looking to improve your in-store execution with retail execution software? Check out these 5 considerations to keep in mind when choosing a retail execution vendor
An in-store execution strategy that drives results should be a continuous cycle.
Make a plan, communicate the plan to stores, monitor, measure and analyse the results.
A good strategy means nothing is left to chance, because in retail, failing to plan means planning to fail.