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National Study Showcases Major Culprits Behind Brick and Mortar’s Struggle to Meet Customer Expectations

Square Root, creator of enterprise store relationship management (SRM) software, today released the findings from its national survey of retail Store Managers. The study, Turning Brand Vision Into Store Execution, which was conducted in partnership with WBR Digital, revealed that poor training, outdated tools and technology, and broken relationships between corporate and the frontline stores leaves brick and mortar retailers struggling to deliver consistent brand experiences and keep pace with changing customer expectations.

“While brick and mortar retail stores face a variety of external challenges, from declining mall traffic to changes in consumer trends and the continued e-commerce shift, internal problems are proving to be a primary roadblock for improvement,” said Chris Taylor, CEO of Square Root. “Our study shows that major gaps still exist when it comes to delivering the experience today’s shoppers expect, and that technology is now critical for long-term retail success.”

Brands lag behind customer expectations

Consumers today expect a consistent and cohesive shopping experience both in-store and online, yet the Store Managers surveyed felt that their companies were missing the mark. Less than half of those surveyed believe they provide a consistent brand experience across all their stores and only 45% agree that their company’s in-store experience is consistent with the online experience. What’s more, less than 50% of store managers felt they had adequate access to information across other stores and their e-commerce sites needed to fulfill in-store requests, preventing the ability to deliver the true omnichannel experience shoppers now demand.

In a saturated retail market that now depends on agility, the data also showed that one third of Store Managers don’t feel empowered to make decisions or act quickly, and 1 in 5 lack an understanding of the actions they need to take to improve performance, stalling progress and leaving precious money on the table.

Tools and training gaps leave stores struggling to compete

With many major brands closing stores and in-store investments in technology lagging behind e-commerce, physical retailers are being left to do more with less. Only 32% of respondents said they have the number of associates needed, and only 42% of Store Managers feel they currently have the tools and training needed to be successful, showing the impact of organizational cutbacks on the frontline. High turnover rates for store associates continue to highlight the need for improved, more efficient training. Nearly two thirds of respondents cited the training of new store associates as at least somewhat challenging, with more than a quarter of Store Managers spending 11 hours or more on the task each week.

“If stores want to create an extraordinary customer experience, we need to train, coach, and mentor all the team members in the stores to put the customers right at the center and continue to find ways to go above and beyond for them,” said Andrea Farris, Vice President, Director Retail Systems, Walgreens, Co.

Beyond training, today’s retail stores continue to rely on outdated tools for some of the most critical areas of the business. Nearly one quarter of today’s Store Managers rely on pen and paper or manual spreadsheets for both financial and sales reporting, with 10% relying on the methods for inventory management and corporate communications.

Technology fills the gaps for long-term success

Beyond the obvious need for additional on-the-ground support in stores, when it comes to improving performance, better software, training, and strategic direction top Store Managers’ wish lists. Nearly one third of Store Managers cited a desire for better software and training in order to improve store performance, with more than one in five wanting more strategic direction.

At the core of these challenges is a broken communications channel that leaves corporate, the field, and the stores working in isolation. On the front lines, only 37% of store managers feel they get the information they need from corporate, and only 36% think they currently have efficient systems of communications between corporate and stores. What’s more, less than half of Store Managers feel they are aligned with their District Manager, and only 43% feel their District Manager has their best interests in mind and advocates on their behalf.

As brick and mortar retailers look to compete in the age of e-commerce, empowering agility through tools and technology will be crucial to delivering a seamless, consistent customer experience and enabling success in the changing retail market. The full report, Turning Brand Vision Into Store Execution, can be found here.

About Square Root:

Square Root, an Austin-based Software as a Service (SaaS) company, creates technology solutions that power data-driven decision making for leading automotive and retail enterprises. Built for companies with distributed retail networks, Square Root’s store relationship management (SRM) platform, CoEFFICIENT®, delivers actionable data insights to align organizations, increase transparency, encourage collaboration, and improve store performance. Founded in 2006, Square Root has been bootstrapped to success, and serves as a trusted partner to many of the most well-known and complex enterprises in the world.

About Worldwide Business Research:

Worldwide Business Research is the world’s biggest large-scale conference company and part of the PLS group, one of the world’s leading providers of strategic business intelligence with 16 offices worldwide. Our conference divisions consistently out-perform their industry sector competitors on the quality of the events we produce and the relationships we nurture with both delegates and sponsors. Every year over 10,000 senior executives from Fortune 1000 companies attend over 100 annual conferences – a true “Who’s Who” of today’s corporate world. From Automotive events in Bucharest to Logistics conferences in Arizona and Finance summits in Hong Kong, WBR is dedicated to exceeding the needs of its customers around the world.

As the professional services marketing division of Worldwide Business Research, WBR Digital connects solution providers to their target audiences with year-round online branding and engagement lead generation campaigns. We are a team of content specialists, marketers, and advisors with a passion for powerful marketing. We believe in demand generation with a creative twist. We believe in the power of content to engage audiences. And we believe in campaigns that deliver results. Learn more at