I feel very fortunate that I get to work with so many retailers every day, helping solve some of the biggest challenges facing the industry today. How do we connect to our customers? Are our initiatives working? How do we stay relevant in today’s ever-changing environment? The customer is in clearly in charge – what worked yesterday doesn’t work today and every channel is mashed together with nobody knowing what the future holds.
But the beauty of working in today’s retail world is the tremendous innovation and work coming out of retailers of all shapes and sizes. Online retailers are making big waves with physical stores. Brands once thought to be obsolete or dying are forced to make big, bold changes. Innovation is EVERYWHERE, and so are retail superheroes.
Yep! I meet them every day, everywhere. Folks young and not so young, all taking risks, all innovating, and all unleashing the power of data to drive their businesses forward.
So what is a Retail Superhero? When I think about what makes these folks stand out from the crowd, I see four common attributes setting them apart from the rest.
The first is their ability to highlight the easy wins. It’s finding the best, most actionable data and starting there.
For example, the first thing many of our customers do is align staff to traffic and measure against conversion – either at the store or department level. In doing so, these HEROES are able to provide better direction for staffing and task management. As retail evolves, and labor costs increase, optimizing the staff in-store (at the store, department and task level) will continue to be one of the most critical aspects of running physical stores.
Once the easy wins are ticked off the list (and often in conjunction with), the next thing the HEROES do is evolve … and they continue to evolve over time. I love it when customers come back to us and say they “need more data.” Continuing with the staffing example, the evolution often comes in the form of understanding shopper-to-staff interactions. Where are they happening? For how long? And, how are they impacting the overall performance of the store?
Of course, to be considered a HERO, especially one that recognized by senior managers, there has to be ROI. It’s all well and good to have interesting data about what is happening in stores, but unless you realize ROI, you are just a superhero in training.
The final key to Superhero status is to operationalize new metrics. How do you take your learnings and apply them systematically across hundreds or thousands of stores? The HEROES know this is critical and find ways to evolve their work into metrics that can be put to the test across their franchise. For example, what should the key metrics around shopper-to-staff interaction be? Which hold up to pressure tests? Does frequency or time make more difference to sales and/or conversion? Or is it a combination of both?
- Highlight the easy wins
- Evolve over time
- Realize ROI
- Operationalize new metrics
In future posts, I will break down the superhero framework into various functional areas and explore what makes an operations superhero, a marketing superhero or another vital member of the retail superhero alliance, and how their supernatural powers rely (naturally) on data and analytics.
Your turn: What common characteristic(s) do you see in the retail superheroes you encounter?
Join the #retail and #retailsuperhero conversations on Twitter @Bridget Johns & @RetailNext, as well as at www.facebook.com/retailnext.