FD Buyer: Making In-Store Execution Happen

Discussion
May 25, 2010

By Warren Thayer

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion
is a summary of a current article from Frozen & Dairy Buyer magazine.

Prioritized
and timely communication between headquarters and the stores is essential to
improving in-store execution, according to Dan Raftery, president of Raftery
Resource Network.

"That doesn’t happen by accident — you have to actively manage
the flow of instructions out to the stores," said Mr. Raftery in an interview
with FD Buyer. "That can be done manually or through an automated
gatekeeper system like RedPrairie’s. Without a gatekeeper, multiple messages
on the same subject go to stores, and you’ve got chaos. It’s a
huge problem for store personnel when they are bombarded with messages from
many different sources, some of them conflicting."

Mr. Raftery, who served
as a manager at Lucky Stores early in his career, advises headquarters to send
communication to stores as close as possible to the time that the action needs
to be done. Also, parse communications out over the course of a week, rather
than all on one day.

"The store has to know what action needs to be done and when," underscored
Mr. Raftery. "For example, if the ad runs on Wednesday, the display needs
to be up by 8 o’clock that morning. For new item cut-ins, the store needs
to know when the coupon drops, so that the item is on the shelf by then."

Multiple
messages not only drive confusion but desensitize people to what’s
important.

"People in stores do what they need to do, when they need to do it," said
Mr. Raftery. "Everything else is put on hold. Headquarters should communicate
with that same rationale. Don’t send a message with two weeks’ notice,
then one week’s notice, and then a day’s notice. If you are doing
that, stop it now."

When there is a major category reset, a team should
be set up to reset as many stores as possible.

"Focus on lower volume stores, because they are harder to reset," said
Mr. Raftery. "Inventory moves slower, so there’s more on the shelf
to deal with. Plus, these stores have less available labor. Finally, most folks
do this anyway, but do let your vendors know about your reset schedules for
categories, so they present their new items in time to be considered, rather
than having to wait for another cycle. Don’t send out five or six planogram
modifications between cycles. Schedule your work and work your schedule."

Discussion Questions: What’s the best way to improve communications between
headquarters and stores to drive in-store execution? What do you think of
the tips offered in the article? Are there any you would add?

Join the Discussion!

10 Comments on "FD Buyer: Making In-Store Execution Happen"

Notify of

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
J. Peter Deeb
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

Communication to stores is very important, however, communication in the store is critical for execution. Headquarters can do the best job of sending information but if store management does not have a process to insure not only information but also understanding of that information, the chain can break.

The best practices include posted work schedules for the day and week that include specific duties based on the execution plan. The best-in-class retailers have such processes in place and are monitoring them daily to be sure that customers are satisfied and sales are maximized.

Bill Robinson
Guest
Bill Robinson
7 years 6 months ago

The smooth, orderly flow of information to the store is one of the most important operational goals. Why?

Store Operations is an extremely demanding job because they are always facing the customer. Yet often their most critical judges are at headquarters, where buyers, planners, allocators, finance, logistics, marketing, and execs make demands of them and expect them to perform despite enormous expense pressure.

Often their daily work is triggered not by customers, but by central initiatives. It might be the arrival of a truck, the breaking of promotion, revising the store plan-o-gram, a loss prevention query, or by a visiting manager or auditor.

They are responsible locally for inventory control, visual merchandising, price management, associate training, loss prevention, cash management, not to mention the physical environment. Every thing must be in place so the customer perceives the store to have the right merchandise, at the right time, place, and price.

Paul R. Schottmiller
Guest
Paul R. Schottmiller
7 years 6 months ago

Communications from HQ to store continues to be a major challenge to effective store execution. This is getting worse today with store employment becoming virtually counter-cultural for the Millennial workforce (who now dominates this employee pool).

Millennials are the most connected and tech savvy generation in history. Yet while working in the store, virtually none of the tools they use for communication and collaboration in their non-working lives are available; mobile phone–no, text–no, IM–no, social media–no, immediate access to the vast knowledge on the internet–no, cool applications that make their lives entertaining and engaging–no, video–no, even that totally obsolete tool their parent’s use EMAIL (collective Millenial groan)–no.

The opportunities to drive new levels of productivity and improved quality in execution at the store are so far largely untapped. Given the distributed nature of the retail workforce and the impact of the labor expense lever on the retail balance sheet this should be a primary area of innovation focus for retailers over the next couple of years.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
7 years 6 months ago
Dan’s points are right on the money. Gatekeepers to rationalize the task load to the store teams are essential. In my experience, there are two additional keys to success. The first is a rigorous hurdle for return on expense prior to adding incremental (non-essential) tasks to the stores. In other words, all corporate personnel must demonstrate that there will be incremental revenues and/or profits prior to expending store associate payroll. Too often, tasks come down to the store which are someone’s “good idea,” but have no monetary return attached. The second, and most important, is to start at the store level and work backwards to the corporate office decision-making. Begin with the number of hours the average store is operating on, subtract out essential tasks (open/close, re-stocking, etc.), and prioritize the remainder based on the return above. If there are more essential tasks than there are hours, either add payroll or reduce the tasks. Without this kind of rigor, nothing but bad things happen. These include inconsistent execution and/or excessive overtime, not to mention poor… Read more »
Larry Dorr
Guest
Larry Dorr
7 years 6 months ago

Dan Rafferty’s comments were right on target and the industry needs to make the adjustments. There needs to be real collaboration between the retailers and the suppliers creating defined responsibility and accountability. The work that is passed down to the stores in many cases is beyond the scope of the allotted hours to support the store. His comments about executing the lower volume stores is correct as they do not have the hours to support beyond the customer checkout and basic stocking.

The industry has made progress in many areas and this is the last step to having a solution to the reduction of customer disappointments.

Mark Burr
Guest
7 years 6 months ago
Effective communication to the stores from corporate headquarters may be the weakest link yet the most important link in success of execution. Management at all levels is deluged with e-mails as the standard form of communication. Utilities and tools could help in that regard, but the most important consideration is when and how you talk to the stores. The critical factors in communication are often overlooked in many ways. The most important being that the sender has the responsibility to ensure that their message was received, heard and understood. Beyond that, there must be follow up on execution. Too often the job is considered done when the message is sent. Retailers could do a much better job at execution if they set the accountability of communication on the sender at a greater level than the receiver. If the recipient doesn’t get it, doesn’t understand it, and doesn’t know how to execute, the mission doesn’t matter. Far too great expectations of effective communication execution are wrongly placed on the accountability at the store level. If effective… Read more »
Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
7 years 6 months ago

Communications from HQs to the stores are usually professional and exacting. Perhaps a wee bit too much so for everyone. The follow-through at store level is the essential challenge and the store associates must clearly understand the objectives and directions and then take it from there. In other words, communicate in terms the store implementers commonly use.

How do you do that? I am reminded of how a NY newspaper successfully coped with that type of communication challenge: Tell it to Sweeney and the Vanderbilts will understand.

Perhaps there is a clue in that.

Sandy Miller
Guest
Sandy Miller
7 years 6 months ago

There is only one sure way to get selling messages installed and that is to have an outside company, likely the printer, use their teams of installers do it. The increased sales lift pays for this cost many times over.

James Tenser
Guest
7 years 6 months ago
First let me highly recommend this feature in FD Buyer, which includes many other relevant ideas in addition to the fine observations from Mr. Raftery. As the comments here reinforce, there is growing recognition in our industry about the need to communicate precise and timely merchandising direction to our widely dispersed forces in the stores. Workforce Management (WFM) and Store Execution Management (SEM) tools are gaining traction in the market, and a new generation of collaborative platforms for Merchandising Performance Management (MPM) is emerging with potential to bring the industry to a new level. Using smart phones or wireless tablets to deliver the tasks to workers is an idea whose time has come. The missing link, clearly, is the one that brings relevant information back from the field so managers can visualize performance in rapid time and take corrective action where it misses the standard. Those same hand-held devices can enable verifiable self-reporting, including photographic evidence of compliance, as well as alerts of compliance problems at the shelf. As our military leaders would no doubt… Read more »
Dan Desmarais
Guest
Dan Desmarais
7 years 6 months ago

My business, planograms, is usually one of the biggest contributors to the disruptions in daily store life. The intelligent use of a planogram and a great communication system can tie future inventory needs to replenishment. This leads to the right product showing up at the right time (or selling down in advance) meaning less disruption at the store.

A few of the other posts hit another key factor–use a gatekeeper to flow the data to the store. Smart retailers now the sales volume by hour and limit communications to certain times.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

Generally speaking, what grade would you give retailers for communications between headquarters and stores?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...