Managing a retail business can be stressful, especially in larger storefronts with multiple clerks and managers. It’s simply too difficult to keep an eye on every single thing that goes on in your store, especially since each employee has her own set of skills, methods and moods.
However, this is where process mapping can come in handy. It’s quite possible to map out the entire customer journey and how shoppers interact with your brand. While it does require some analysis and brainstorming, as well as a store-wide collaboration, process mapping delivers wonders.
Benefits of process mapping
Before we dive into the how-to, let’s take a look at why you should care about process mapping. After all, it does require time and effort on your part, which could be spent somewhere else.
- Process streamlining. No matter how many senior or junior employees you have on the roster, chances are they do things in drastically different ways than their colleagues. Some people process purchases differently, while others take more time to arrange products around the store. Mapping your processes allows for quicker, more efficient management of these operations, which are now streamlined and less confusing than before.
- Role visualization. Each employee in your retail store is there for a reason. However, without an adequate process map, some of them might go around in circles and fill the gaps between more efficient employees. Process mapping allows you to create employee roles and formulate job descriptions based on your findings. As a result, your employees will always have a list of activities which are theirs to tend to, resulting in higher overall productivity.
- Store-wide collaboration. Most importantly, your retail storefront will breathe new life through a newly-created process map. Employees with daily, weekly and monthly goals and tasks are much more motivated to pitch in. Creating such a map will result in a store-wide collaboration from all your employees, resulting in better customer engagement and subsequent retention.
Let’s take a look at several steps which can help you map out your retail business processes for the benefit of employees and customers alike.
1 – Process identification
Before you map out a process, make sure you understand the role of each of your employees while you search for potential problems. What are the bottlenecks your employees face every day? Which activities are problematic or convoluted, and tend to be avoided?
Ask your employees (individually and as a group) about their daily activities, what takes up most of their time and what bothers them constantly. Identifying these problems is the first step towards creating a process map which will help you solve them.
2 – Project team management
While you can take on the majority of retail business process mapping yourself, you should include others in your project. In that regard, it is a good idea to ask for volunteers and form a project team which will devote time to process mapping. Believe it or not, your store associates will gladly spare time here and there to work on a joint effort to better their work environment.
Once you have a team in place, delegate part of the work to each member and set strict deadlines. You can all refer to TrustMyPaper as an editing platform for your written reports and findings. The project team should be led by you or a person of trust who understands the importance of mapping out your retail business processes.
3 – In-house interviews
Your project team’s first responsibility should be towards the employees themselves. After all, process mapping is done to ensure their productivity and satisfaction are higher than before. You can conduct small, in-house interviews with each employee about their daily habits in the retail store.
Rudimentary questions about their comings and goings, as well as most frequent activities should be included. Once all your employees have been interviewed, you can compare notes and find the most common denominators.
4 – Process map structuring
With all the materials gathered, you can proceed to map out your retail business processes effectively. For starters, imagine your entire staff at a proverbial point “A.” Now imagine a group of customers at point “B,” and ask yourself the question: “What are all the activities that need to happen between A and B?”
Your answers should be arranged in a sequential order so that they make sense to each individual employee. Based on their job descriptions and duties so far, you can arrange each staff member to a different part of the process map. Once you have a clear customer roadmap, you can brief your employees on the innovative new way of doing business you came up with.
Chances are your process map won’t be perfect – and that’s okay. Give your map some time to grow on employees and make sure to change things up as time goes by. Innovate within your process map but don’t stray away from the customer journey map you’ve created.
About the writer: Marie Fincher is a content writer at TrustMyPaper company with a background in marketing, technology and business intelligence. She frequently writes about data science, BI, new marketing trends and branding strategies. Marie gradually changed her focus from working in marketing to writing about it.
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