Teamwork and communication in retail settings can seem like an unwinnable battle. Your average sales associate or store manager often feels like corporate employees sit in a castle in the sky. Likewise, store managers are swamped with back-office work, and may lose focus on training initiatives that their associates need. Opportunities for relationship-building are few and far between. This can breed skepticism on both ends, which can lead to high employee turnover and negatively affect the way customers view your brand.
At CB4, we like to tout our ability to increase gross margin dollars. Sure, the flashing dollar signs are alluring. But we also created our product to improve communication between management and sales staff. CB4’s machine learning solution, delivered to floor teams in a handy mobile or desktop app, uses advanced analytics to turn insights into actions. In doing so we empower store teams, increase productivity, and improve interdepartmental transparency.
Here are three stories of CB4 users who were able to improve communication in retail stores by using the CB4 app.
With CB4, Store Managers Correct Issues Before Corporate Visits
Store managers typically view store walks with apprehension, and this can hurt communication in retail. In the days before a visit from corporate, a proactive store manager might scour her selling floor, trying to ensure merchandise is properly displayed and promotions visible. In some cases, an executive may unexpectedly pop in, taking the store manager off guard and sending her heart racing as she wonders what issues will be revealed. Thus, these visits can be a source of stress when they should really be used to build trust and promote team building between corporate level staff and the boots on the ground.
CB4 gives store managers a leg up by alerting them to on-floor execution problems before corporate even walks through their doors. In one instance, CB4 detected that sales of a specific flavor of ice cream at a convenience store were far below predicted high demand. It was costing the company in revenue, and probably disappointing customers, too. CB4 deployed a recommendation to the store manager to have a closer look at the item. He checked the case and at first, everything looked sufficiently stocked and properly displayed.
But when the manager, bolstered by CB4, looked closer, he saw that the entire SKU had been labeled with the wrong price. On further inspection, he realized that the entire freezer case was mislabeled! What would have turned into an embarrassing debacle and damage control situation was nipped in the bud before corporate set foot in the store. The store walk planned for the very next day was a success, and everyone celebrated the store’s strong sales, having averted a costly issue before it became a major problem.
CB4 Helps Store Managers Train Sales Teams
Store managers are notoriously crunched for time. Between keeping customers happy and putting out every day fires, they don’t always have time to invest in their teams and improve communication in retail stores. In these circumstances, CB4 steps up and helps store managers understand where their teams need an extra assist.
This happened recently, when CB4 detected low sales in a high-demand item at a store in a major fashion apparel chain. Their newest pants came in black, navy, and army green. CB4’s algorithm detected that the navy color was underselling. It turned out that black and army green pants had shipped together and arrived in-store on time. The stock team placed them on the floor together. Production was slightly delayed for navy and the pants arrived in-store late. At the time, the navy pants looked similar to the black, and the stock team mistook the newly arrived navy colorway as extra stock of the black pants that had arrived earlier. As a result, the stock team put the navy pants directly in back stock instead of on the floor!
Thanks to CB4’s recommendation, the store manager corrected the oversight before losing more sales. After the issue was resolved, the manager saw an opportunity to provide further training. She met with the stock team to emphasize the importance of reviewing seasonal visual directives every time a new shipment arrives. After all, it’s not unusual that different products (i.e. flavors of a soft drink or washes of a jean) look similar to the untrained eye. In this instance, and in others like it, CB4 serves as an educational tool to help stores reinforce general best practices to avoid in-store execution problems that could affect future sales.
CB4 Helps Store Teams Uncover Vendor Issues
In the convenience store setting, your category managers have a full plate and can’t always pay attention to what’s going on with a specific SKU in an individual store. In these circumstances, vendors may have a good deal of latitude when it comes to restocking the shelves. But vendors often come in and do as they see fit without necessarily taking individual district managers’ requests into account. This can lead to out-of-stock problems that never see the light of day.
When items on a chain-wide top sellers list are out of stock, store managers are quick to remedy the issue. However, every store has items that have very high demand locally but not uniform high demand across the chain, which means they don’t show up on the chain-wide top sellers list. Store teams typically don’t have alerts set up for these situations. Often, this means customers are unable to easily find what the want, resulting in disappointment and missed sales opportunities.
This recently happened at a store in a convenience chain that uses CB4. CB4’s algorithms detected low sales in a Pepsi product that should have been in high demand and sent the store manager a recommendation to correct the issue. The manager noted that the item was out-of-stock. As the issue continued to go uncorrected over time, CB4 continued to send recommendations for the product. As the issue continued to go unchecked, CB4’s persistently sent recommendations prompting the store manager to escalate the issue up the corporate ladder. With the support of the corporate office, the store manager was able to get the vendor to restock the desired product in her store. Corporate, in turn, recognized a hard-working store manager who proactively addresses issues as they happen.
With CB4, store managers aren’t left to rely on corporate for specific directives about their business. They can resolve issues proactively before corporate even becomes aware or gets involved. CB4 creates in-store detectives attuned to the potential issues they might uncover if they take a critical look at their selling floor. In-store users of CB4 are empowered to solve issues beyond those that CB4 detects. Finally, CB4 legitimizes challenges related out-of-stocks, empowering managers to act and obtain the merchandise their stores need most. All of this is how CB4 can improve communication in retail.
Interested in learning more about how CB4 works in action? Watch Wilsons’ Director of Operations talking about CB4’s impact on his c-store business:
It’s been a really easy way to get our store managers involved more in the business and realizing opportunities to grow our business, and at every one of our stores the execution has been really easy.”