In our recently published Multi-Store Retail Ultimate Guide, we pointed out that the role of the physical store in the shopping journey is still as relevant as it has ever been, albeit in a different way. Australian & New Zealand consumers show a preference towards bricks and mortar retail if the experience is engaging and differentiated. We believe that if businesses adopt an Informed Retailer approach they can profitably expand their bricks and mortar network in 2019 and beyond. However, the approach to store network expansion needs to be considered and measured. Informed Retailers use a continuous cycle of analysis and experimentation to expand their business in a way that builds on best practices already operating in other locations. They know when they are well positioned to add stores and loop them into a company wide optimisation program where each store learns from all the others. The following key practices are deeply entrenched in the business to ensure each store is reaching its full potential (or quickly identified as under-performing):
Shared (business-wide) agreement on thresholds / benchmarks to add / close stores so that there are clear trigger points (defined metrics) to identify when the business is financially positioned to add new stores, what benchmarks those new stores should be reaching over different time-frames and what actions will be taken if they don't meet them.
Identify best and worst performing stores using a measurement tool and a range of KPIs such as turnover, GMROI and customer sentiment.
Employ auditing and bench-marking across all business divisions: sales, service and experience, marketing, CRM, loyalty and inventory & logistics, financial management, and analytics & insights.
Test and measure practices across all stores, or those with similar geo-demographic traits using data analysis (for example, city vs. country stores).
Standardise proven practices that have the best results across the store network, through training, process implementation, and technology integration.
Ensure all stores and employees can access the same information and are able to collaboratively implement processes. Shared access to knowledge (including training), company and individual store performance and benchmarks, and accurate, real-time data about customers, products, inventory levels, and performance metrics help employees deliver a consistent experience.
A company-wide planning calendar with activities across all stores and channels, and projections for sales at category, sub-category and item levels. Merchants and the inventory control group can then plan product purchasing to support these events. Most importantly, Informed Retailers do not treat this as a one-off, set-and-forget document — it is a dynamic, ongoing business process. To truly thrive in this new era, Australian & New Zealand retailers have to pursue the other key modes of growth at the same time as store expansion:
- Best practice online and omni-channel presence - including an integrated eCommerce store(s), marketplaces, mobile and social.
- Grow your product or service offerings - including up-sell and cross-sell opportunities and value-added services aligned to your customers lifestyle.
- Partnerships and alliances – leverage the assets, resources and audience reach of other businesses that align with your brand, creating a win-win agreement that will help you both add value to your customers.
Along with the right strategic growth strategies, Informed Retailers, rely on best-of-breed management systems like Retail Express to give them access to real-time, unified data, that guides effective business decisions and retail practices in-store and online.
Score your business in each of the critical areas of practice to identify strengths, weaknesses and potential blind spots.