When you ask an executive about the key to a successful retail enterprise, chances are they’ll give you tips on creating a corporate strategy. Yet, if all you needed was a great corporate strategy, then all stores would see Walmart and Amazon levels of growth. There is much more going on behind the scenes that help make a strategy successful.
In industries like retail, corporate leaders pass strategy, goals, and brand information to district managers. District managers pass information down to store managers and oversee their performance. Store managers are then in charge of executing these tasks. While this illustration does portray how information flows in an enterprise, it’s a simplistic view of the complicated relationship from corporate and down to its stores.
When you add in the complexity of corporate leadership and action-packed pass of store management, you get a more complicated—and more disconnected— relationship between these two levels. The key is in understanding how communication changes between these two levels, turning strategies into day-to-day functions.
The Complicated Role of Store Managers
The store manager is at the pulse of the action, working to ensure the maximum profitability of the store by managing the day-to-day functions. In most retail stores, the store manager’s day-to-day responsibilities include:
- Recruiting employees and manage assets
- Leading departments in meeting their target margins
- Maintaining corporate branding efforts
In addition to maintaining day-to-day functions, store managers work closely with their district managers to enable corporate strategies. Information and progress reports on the upcoming promotions, in-store design schemes, target margins, competitor plans, and policy changes is communicated between each store and corporate.
As important as these responsibilities are, store managers are overwhelmed with an ineffective chain of communication as they spend more time on day-to-day functions than on strategies. According to our Store Manager Survey, where we studied on the role of more than 1,000 store managers and how retailer can unlock their value, the top three most time consuming tasks for store managers are:
- Customer service
- Managing inventory
- Merchandising products
For over 50% of the store managers surveyed, customer service alone takes up more than 15 hours per-week. Given the hours applied to day-to-day functions, it’s no wonder that most store managers don’t have enough time to focus on corporate strategy.
Success Depends On Communication
The success of store managers is directly dependent on effective communication of information between the store and corporate. District managers are responsible for monitoring and optimizing the performance of their stores. They do so by acting as intermediaries between corporate and their stores.
A store’s success relies on effective communication with the district manager. Yet, our research finds that while 3/4th of store managers meet with their district managers at least once per-month, nearly 20% of store managers don’t feel that corporate provides them with the information they need to be successful.
This disconnect is largely attributed to the decentralized structure of operations that limits the flow of communication to corporate.
Improving the Communication Dilemma
Store managers must balance a complicated cocktail of day-to-day responsibilities while developing corporate strategy. To help store managers succeed in their responsibilities, the relationship with corporate must improve through the use of technologies that enable collaboration between store and district managers.
Of the store managers surveyed, only 35% feel they have efficient systems of communication between corporate and their stores. When aggregating data for corporate strategies, many store managers perform some of their important tasks with outdated tools like pen and paper, and spreadsheets. Some of these tasks include:
- 21% Sales Reporting
- 24% Customer Relationship Management
- 40% Financial Reporting
- 17% Corporate Communication
Access to technologies that effectively report and communicate information can help alleviate much of the disconnect between store and district managers. Although it’s impossible to add another hour into the day, technologies can create more opportunities for clearer collaboration in less time.
When the connection between a store and corporate is strengthened, strategies and feedback are executed more effectively in a continuously diversifying market.
Download our Store Manager Survey white paper to learn more about the daily challenges of store managers and how the right technologies can help store managers with day-to-day functions, performance tracking, and collaboration with district managers.