Commentary: Three Tips for Flawless Execution in 2018

Why is it that our best-laid out plans — from promotions, floor resets to new product launches — look great on paper, but fall flat in their execution?

While trying to keep up with ever-changing shopper behavior trends, retailers are finding it more and more difficult to rapidly communicate new directives to store teams. And relying on mass emails, break-room bulletins, conference calls, and company intranets are just not cutting it. Store managers are swimming in a sea of information in the back room instructing employees how to execute in-store programs. And while teams do their best to execute, shortcomings tend to be more the norm than the exception — even among the best and brightest retailers.

To support store teams and help them turn ideas into action — and make our best-laid plans a reality — it’s time to better leverage mobile technology. Here are three tips that will give mobile-driven store teams the opportunity to execute correctly and on-time:

Tip 1: Equip them with the right knowledge. Everyone — from the stockroom to the front of house — needs to march towards the same vision. Every team member should understand the importance of their role and how they can influence the customer experience.

Customer-facing employees who not only have the right attitude, but the right knowledge about the company’s products and services are your biggest asset. Ensure that store teams have access to all the right information at their fingertips, and that is easily searchable so they can find the answers they need.

Tip 2: Send information in bite-sized chunks. Store teams that are equipped with information that is easy to understand — and to remember — are ready to focus on what matters most: the customer. It will be easier for store teams to digest and execute directives if communications are streamlined, tasks are broken down and accessible from the sales floor, and media attachments, such as photos and videos, make it crystal clear what needs to get done and how.

Tip 3: Connect everyone together. Connect your whole organization with easy-to-use tools so they can reach and collaborate with any coworker instantly. Encourage store teams to share tips and tricks so they can collectively improve store performance. Provide store teams with a two-way communication channel so they can raise issues and make recommendations back to headquarters. This will turn the best-laid plans into the best-implemented actions.

Retailers everywhere are looking to innovate and adopt new technologies to improve the customer experience — from robot shopkeepers, hologram fitting rooms, drone deliveries to virtual reality shopping. They are all groundbreaking innovations on their own. But don’t forget to focus your biggest asset and what really draws customers into your brick-and-mortar locations: frontline employees who can make or break the customer experience. Make 2018 the year you unlock the true power of frontline employees.

Maria Jiang is the head of product marketing at Inkling, which builds software designed to make work life simpler and more efficient for distributed teams. Inkling is mobile-first, so frontline employees can easily access actionable information anytime, any-where on any device.