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CSA Exclusive: Closeout chain shifts from email to support store growth

Ocean State Job Lot is adopting a real-time communication platform as part of an aggressive store and technology expansion initiative.

The Rhode Island-based closeout retailer, which operates 137 stores in New England, New York, and New Jersey, is increasing its store base by 10% annually while preparing to enter new markets such as Pennsylvania.

As part of its corporate expansion, Ocean State Job Lot is also upgrading its technology infrastructure. This includes rolling out the Reflexis Task Manager and StoreWalk solutions to increase transparency and communication between corporate, field and store employees, with the ultimate goal of improved customer experience.

“As you grow, you must get decentralized,” Paul Cox, Ocean State Job Lot director of store operations, said in an interview with Chain Store Age. “As part of that, we needed to reallocate field and labor management. We were still working off an email platform for task management and field communication. It placed a burden on field managers trying to communicate and complete projects. Email can tie anyone down – it can strangle you. We were trying to get away from it.”

In addition to making it difficult for field managers to observe and communicate the progress of projects, Ocean State Job Lot’s email-based field communication platform also created issues with providing a consistent customer experience.

“Field managers didn’t know when projects were completed,” said Cox. “They lacked visibility into what stores hit a home run or what stores struggled. So we couldn’t analyze the set-up of a good project or compare it to the set-up of a project that failed.”

Leveraging Reflexis Task Manager, Ocean State Job Lot will achieve real-time insight into field projects, as well as enable real-time communications among different enterprise stakeholders. At corporate headquarters, tasks can be assigned and labor can be allocated based on actual field costs and conditions. In addition, Ocean State Job Lot will gain an understanding of how projects affect customer experience and be able to measure the success of initiatives to improve customer experience.

By implementing the Reflexis StoreWalk mobile audit solution, Ocean State Job Lot can more effectively communicate priorities to store associates and enable district managers to collect real-time feedback from the store environment.

“We put so much weight on district managers,” said Cox. “They still carry portfolios. We can eliminate that with mobile devices.”
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