Internal communication is essential regardless of the type and size of business you are in, but for multi-store retail brands, it is an indispensable factor for the smooth running of the business.
A Communication ROI Study Report conducted by Towerwatson.com, revealed that companies with highly effective communication enjoyed 47 percent higher total shareholder returns compared to organizations with less effective communication. The benefits often stretch beyond monetary profits as you build an active community where workers feel happy and confident, and work hard to outperform expectations at their roles.
Internal communication for multi-store retail businesses is no walk in the park, but it can have huge impacts on the success of any organization. Internal communication has become crucial for brands in their efforts to build and retain cohesive, high-performing teams and ensure every employee is on the same page irrespective of where they work.
With the rise of the millennial population and the organizational transformations that are ensuing, we are also experiencing a progression in internal communication. While legacy communication solutions like email worked well in the past, organizations now need more mobile-friendly tools and solutions that can guarantee improved internal communication. In the following lines, we will discuss some of the ways that will ensure all your stores run smoothly and effectively under your watch.
Run your business in the cloud
The best thing multi-store brands can do in the 21st century is to do business in the cloud. Cloud-based solutions allow you to access tools and data from anywhere around the world, as long as you are connected to the internet. So, whether you are sitting in your office, at home, or even on the go, you can connect with all your branches and see their operations.
The benefits of cloud solutions are many. It helps businesses to reflect and update data in real-time so they can keep stock levels and sales up-to-date at each store. Cloud solutions are more powerful for large retailers as the real-time details provide them an accurate view of their business performance.
Cloud-based tools also allow employees to share data with the entire team at the click of a button. With streamlined internal communication and access to the same data, employees can make data-driven decisions and contribute to the success of the business. Cisco WebEx, for instance, provides an easy way for companies to try web-based conferencing with a limited testing group. It makes meeting, collaborating, and sharing data among members easy since everything you need is in one online location.
Moreover, most cloud-based tools integrate well with each other so you can be sure all your systems will be able to ‘communicate’ with one another and transfer data seamlessly. Such solutions allow brands to optimize their inventory across all their locations. In an event where a customer cannot find a particular product, color, or size at one outlet, you can check if other branches have it, so you can either ship the item to your store or the customer’s home, or direct the buyer to that particular location.
Connect workers at all levels – horizontal and vertical communication
While Slack, Trello, HipChat, and other internet relay chat (IRC) services allow peer-to-peer communication (horizontal communication), businesses need programs that can connect employees to managers and supervisors at all levels (vertical communication). Workers have different views on issues and topics that matter to them, and by connecting them, you provide them a voice that is heard at all levels.
Communication and task management solutions such as the one built by Retail Zipline help retailers coordinate their stores and streamline communication.
TOMS, for instance, got their stores and headquarters aligned, and streamlined 80 percent of their operations in the process. The solution improved their task management by replacing the deluge of emails and texts they used to send to their team members.
These services not only save brands time and other resources, but also enable them to serve their customers better. They make collaboration easier, particularly for businesses where employers do not share the same physical office space. From task management to document management, group communication to simple conversation, they help brands in tasks which are inherent to every project.
Use video to improve internal communication
The value of video as a communication tool has been on the rise for the past few years. As predicted by a Cisco study, mobile video traffic will account for 75 percent of global mobile data traffic. More and more enterprises are now ditching long boring presentations and cumbersome marketing documents for video communication.
A study conducted by Forbes revealed that many senior executives today prefer video as an information source. According to Forbes, more than 80 percent of executives watch more online today than they did a year ago. Moreover, 75 percent of them watch work-related videos at least weekly. Video is also gaining popularity as a new mode of internal communication that engages employees in a number of ways.
For multi-outlet brands who launch new products now and then, video can be the most efficient method to communicate between stores. Since video is the dominant type of content (55 percent) which attracts peoples’ attention, followed by social media posts and news articles, it can be used to engage people and increase their understanding of a brand and its products/services.
Put systems in place
To standardize the quality of internal communication, you need to have systems in place. Systems allow you to duplicate stores and grow faster with lesser supervision and training. By making systems manage your business, you are able to measure every employee’s responsibilities and hold them accountable for delivering on their duties regardless of the location they are based.
Systems also make it easy for you to establish clear boundaries and authority without creating the proverbial cracks into which everything drops. An employee with insufficient authority or a vague sense of responsibility is worth little to an organization.
Conduct regular site visits
Systems are important, and technology is helpful, but these will only work with real communication. The proverb “out of sight, out of mind” can become true when you are a multi-outlet retailer without any regular communication. It is necessary to conduct regular site visits and check in regularly with all your stores and see first-hand how they are performing. If you cannot visit personally, a wise decision will be to make regular calls with store managers and get in touch with employees to know how they are doing.
It is also critical to run reports on a regular basis and make sure you always keep an eye on each store. Monitor the sales, best/worst performing products, and staff performance, and review the business metrics regularly. This will allow you to have an understanding of each outlet is performing even if you are not there yourself.
With so much of your brand success depending on internal communication, it is something that you can’t ignore. With the advent of the internet and the surge in smart devices, equipping your employees with web-based technology has become a significant ingredient to strengthen internal communication in today’s tech-driven world.
About the writer: Evie Harrison is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences and express herself through her blogs. Find her on Twitter @iamevieharrison.
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