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If you’re up-to-date on your retail news, lately it seems like sporting goods stores are dropping like flies. Sports Authority, Vestis Retail Group (Eastern Mountain Sports, Sport Chalet), and City Sports are among the most recent to have filed for bankruptcy. On the flip side, home improvement stores continue to rise above, with brands like Home Depot regularly beating quarterly numbers.

So what gives? Why are some industries flourishing and some flatlining? We recently teamed up with WBR to better answer that question, and the resulting insights from more than 1,000 Store Managers from across the country highlighted the key factors separating today’s retail winners and losers.

Hint: It all comes back to information access and technology.

Information for all

Success in retail today relies on agility and the ability to quickly react and make necessary adjustments to drive improvements. When looking at the survey responses, there is a huge disparity in the ability for sporting goods store managers to execute on information compared to home improvement store managers. While 89% of home improvement store managers said they feel empowered to make decisions and act quickly, only 63% in sporting goods said they feel prepared. That ability to act quickly is directly correlated to the accessibility of information across the organization.

Where 50% of home improvement store managers said they have access to information across stores and online, only 37% of sporting goods retailers said the same. The unsurprising result? Only 16% of sporting goods managers feel their brand provides a consistent online-offline experience, compared to nearly 60% in home improvement.

Consumers today expect a seamless, omni-channel shopping experience and for brands to deliver on these expectations. Retailers have to unify their information sources, providing organization-wide visibility of online and offline data to enable greater agility.

Technology, Tools, and Training

Major gaps in technology, tools, and training are a key culprit in much of today’s retail failures. A mere 37% of sporting goods managers cite having the tools and training needed to succeed, compared to 65% within home improvement. In addition, 34% of sporting goods managers said they still rely on pen, paper, and spreadsheets for financial reporting, with one quarter relying on the same outdated tools for sales reporting and corporate communications.

Stores are looking for ways to increase communication and connection with other stores and their corporate headquarters. While many retailers have been quick to invest in customer-facing technologies, more effective tools and training for these teams may be a better use of resources. Rather than investing in reporting and training, store relationship management tools could allow teams to focus on strategies that improve customer satisfaction and loyalty—the overall goal. Long story short, everyone wants great omni-channel experiences for their customers. If you look at who is doing right, though, you’ll see these organizations invest inward and get the fundamentals right before adding complexity.

Everyday we work with leading retailers to turn data into action to align their organizations, increase transparency, encourage collaboration, and improve store performance. Interested? Learn more about our store relationship management platform, CoEFFICIENT®.

Image credit: Hellweg Home Improvement Store cc by Mike Steele