Improving the Store Experience: The Benefits of Closing the Store Performance Gap

AUGUST 24, 2017

The future of brick-and-mortar retail relies on the ability to deliver the best possible shopping experience to customers. To achieve this, retailers need reliable tracking and measurement of KPIs to determine their next move, from investing in merchandise and marketing to negotiating supply chains. They cannot afford the negative impact of highly variable performance from one store to another.

Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Essential tools used to track and manage store performance KPIs are dispersed and siloed throughout the organization—from dashboards to emails, to spreadsheets, to the traditional pen-and-paper.

In a recent report by Square Root and Forrester Consulting, we asked 105 corporate retail operators about their most tracked KPIs, the importance of investing in customer experience, and the benefits of upgrading legacy systems. Here are the top findings.

IMPROVE CUSTOMER SERVICE

In recent years, the retail industry has experienced disruption from Ecommerce’s competitive pricing and extensive range of products. Customers now have more options to choose from, pressuring retailers to innovate on customer service strategies to stay competitive.

It’s no surprise, then, that when respondents were asked to name their most important store performance KPIs many cited their customer experience score and customer loyalty. More specifically, when asked what the top business benefit would to aligning their lowest performing stores, 60% of respondents said it would be improved customer experience. This was especially true for brands that generate between 1 billion to 5 billion in revenue, who chose this as a top benefit at almost 82%.

Brands that generate revenues larger than 1 billion are more likely to have cobbled together solutions over time. Now, they tend to find themselves with legacy systems that no longer serve their intended purposes.

Upgrading technologies can vastly improve the quality of customer service, as in-store management and staff have access to actionable data—all in one place.

Upgrading technologies can vastly improve the quality of customer service, as in-store management and staff have access to actionable data—all in one place. Instead of juggling many other systems like dashboard reports and emails, upgraded technologies can minimize the friction between processing and action for a streamlined workflow.

REDUCE OPERATIONAL COSTS

Not only can an improvement to a brand’s legacy systems lead to greater customer experience, it can also lead to shrinking operational costs. In simplest terms, profits are realized after deducting costs from revenue. The more efficient and quickly a store can perform operations, the more cost-effective they are in generating revenue.

Respondents reported measuring their store performance using inventory management, point-of-sale (POS) systems, and corporate intranets. While these systems are useful for their intended purposes, they’re not necessarily useful for collecting, integrating, and reporting data across a network of stores. Improving the quality of these technologies can strengthen the links between the stores, leading to better alignment of strategies and performance.

Strengthening this connection is especially important for directors who oversee critical areas of a brand. When we asked directors about the top benefits of aligning their stores, 62% reported operational costs as a major factor that would see improvement. Operations and cost are key focuses for directors, which is why they see this as a top benefit.

 

IMPROVE EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY

When we inquired about the KPIs tracked most frequently to measure the performance of their stores, 46% reported tracking their Average Sales per-Transaction. This data shouldn’t be surprising, as the value of a transaction is directly tied to the bottom line. Other KPIs they followed included Inventory Shrinkage, Operating Margins, and Sales per-Employee Hour. These point to overall employee productivity as a crucial factor to a store’s performance.

A major obstacle to improving employee productivity are the inherent limitations of legacy systems.

A major obstacle to improving employee productivity are the inherent limitations of legacy systems. These systems are limited in the speed and depth of the data that they’re able to process. Compounding the issues are legacy systems that fail to communicate effectively within their network, keeping performance issues insulated for longer periods of time without an actionable solution.

Improving the quality of data-driven insights and their technologies help empower Store Managers to make actionable decisions. When brands invested in their technologies, stores reported a major increase in overall employee productivity. This boost is most important for brick-and-mortar stores that generated between 500 million to 1 billion in revenue, with 60% of stores reporting improvements in employee productivity as a top business benefit.

 

Many respondents we talked to found that investing in systems that improve the effectiveness of your store can feed your bottom line and improve store performance. If you’re looking to improve store performance for your brand, download our report, Close The Gap Between High- and Low-Performing Stores by Forrester Consulting and Square Root to learn more the results.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

As our demand grand marshal, Sarah leads the marketing team in creating meaningful connections between our company and our audience. After almost a decade in marketing for SaaS companies, she is inspired by finding creative, streamlined ways to communicate complex topics. Her appetite for curiosity pushes her to learn new things that will guide our brand and lead to bigger and better things for Square Root. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys singing in rock and roll bands and exploring Austin in her relentless pursuit of the best burger, taco, sushi, etc. Sarah graduated from West Virginia University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.