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Exclusive Q&A: American Signature connects frontline workers

An independent furniture retailer is streamlining employee communications with a mobile platform.

Operating 125 stores and four distribution centers and employing 4,000 workers throughout the Midwest and Eastern U.S., American Signature Inc. (ASI) found its previous task management solution to be inefficient for communication and execution.

ASI turned to mobile-first communications and task management solution provider Zipline. ASI gradually rolled out the platform, first to field leaders, then to store managers and store leaders, and then to the entire fleet of associates.

Today, ASI’s home office, store associates, warehouses, and delivery service communicate with one another via Zipline. This expands ASI’s corporate communicattions reach to over 4,000 employees, up  from the 370 managers the company was previously able to communicate with directly. 

Chain Store Age recently spoke with Suzanne Kiggin, VP of operations & customer experience at American Signature Inc., about the company’s corporate communications and store operations technology strategy.

What business issues was ASI facing?

ASI is family-owned business, and core to our values for the last 75 years has been treating our nearly 4,000 employees well and giving them a voice in the company. We wanted to maintain these values for the modern age, but we lacked the tools to effectively and authentically engage with employees. Achieving that required a better internal communications platform that we just hadn’t yet found. 

What made you decide to implement Zipline?

Our main goals were driving efficiency and customer impact across all store locations. We first decided to try out Zipline based on the positive word-of-mouth feedback we had heard within the industry.

We kicked off our pilot period in December 2021, and ASI has been using the Zipline market leads since then. After hearing positive reviews from our employees in the pilot locations, we knew this solution was a clear avenue toward better internal collaboration, execution, alignment and customer satisfaction. That is why ASI decided to roll it out nationwide. 

What benefits has the Zipline solution delivered?

Adoption is always top of mind when you implement a new technology solution. Every brand’s culture is different. Zipline worked with us on the best strategy to drive 100% field adoption. Even our employees who have been with ASI for decades, and are perhaps more hesitant to embrace change, were sold on the platform shortly after seeing the way it changed operations for the better by giving employees a clear understanding of their responsibilities and making sure everyone has access to the same information.

In addition, ASI has seen an exponential change in the speed at which we can react to employee activities. For example, if an employee in one store is doing something especially well, we’re able to have them share a video with tips and advice to their colleagues within minutes.

It’s amazing to see how eager employees are to share experiences and help one another, as well as the weight that peer advice carries. The solution also facilitates different departments and functions within the company to connect, including fostering casual conversations between our executives and store personnel via our ‘Table Talk Chats.’

Are there any future store operations plans you can discuss?

Within the next 18 months, we’re planning a full rollout of a new POS system. Knowing that we have an effective means to communicate this change, train employees, and give them a platform to ask and answer questions makes a world of difference. Overall, the platform will serve as a centralized ‘point of truth’ during this transition to keep employees informed and engaged through the transition.

American Signature is the parent company of the retail brands American Signature Furniture and Value City Furniture, and the manufacturing facility Kroehler. 

Editor’s Note: Read more about how specialty retailer Torrid leverages Zipline to streamline communications between headquarters and stores.

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