With the 2017 holiday shopping season in full swing, now is the time for retailers across the country to capitalize on increased foot traffic.

With the 2017 holiday shopping season in full swing, now is the time for retailers across the country to capitalize on increased foot traffic and consumer activity to shore up their revenue streams and bolster bottom lines. Execution management software can play a key role in retail operations during this hectic time of year, keeping in-store displays, merchandising, and inventory management on point.

Brick-and-mortar stores continue to drive sales

Although a great deal of seasonal focus has shifted toward e-commerce channels with the ubiquity of digital sales and the presence of online retailers like Amazon, don’t sleep on the importance of a well-oiled in-store operation. It’s true that web and mobile transactions are on the rise, with the 2017 Black Friday weekend hitting a record-high of $7.9 billion in online sales, according to Reuters.

Retailers expecting a sharp decrease in foot traffic this holiday season might put more effort into digital channels to offset any potential loss in revenue. However, those fears may have been premature. Research firm ShopperTrak recorded a minimal drop in brick-and-mortar traffic – less than 1 percent. Clearly, the in-store experience still counts for something.

The other consideration to keep in mind is that supporting brick-and-mortar operations and e-commerce platforms isn’t an either-or proposition. The two can work in harmony, and retailers and brand manufacturers alike have found great success embracing the omnichannel sales journey.

Even if the negative predictions regarding in-store traffic had played out as expected, that would be all the more reason to make brick-and-mortar shops more efficient using inventory management strategies and optimized shelf and display practices.

Execution management software brings real-time insights to the table

The best retail operations are able to dynamically respond to in-store conditions in real time to make necessary changes and drive sales. An execution management platform provides that window into ground-level retail activity, allowing administrators to gather data, glean impactful insights, and identify opportunities for improvement.

Useful insights could run the gamut from current shelf conditions and display setups to the degree employees comply with brand guidelines. All of this information can be collected through a single, easy-to-use mobile platform.

Use images to facilitate cross-departmental communication

Photo-capture features allow field teams to document store activity in real time, uploading images cataloging in-store displays, shelf conditions, marketing materials, and even customer interactions.

That information can be used to identify gaps in performance and missed opportunities for increased sales. For instance, if sales data suggests certain products are in high demand, those items should be given prominent position on retail shelves. Frontline employees can quickly and easily capture images that demonstrate in-store staff members are correctly displaying specific SKUs or failing to follow best practices. In the latter case, using collected photos as proof, corrective action can be taken immediately, and store managers can use the event as a learning experience to improve employee training.

Keep your brand image on message

Another powerful example of execution management software in action is retail brand compliance. Many brands use their retail stores to present a specific image and provide a meticulously defined customer experience. Ultimately, it’s up to store employees to execute on that vision. When staff fail to adhere to these guidelines, it gives customers a negative impression of the brand. Given the inherent advantages e-commerce platforms enjoy over brick-and-mortar outlets, the in-store experience is an edge that retailers can’t afford to lose.

Here again, execution management solutions rise to the occasion. Frontline teams can observe and document in-store customer interactions and quickly share their findings with administrators and retail managers. If an employee goes off-script, fails to adhere to messaging guidelines, or represents the brand in a bad way, supervisors can step in and address the situation in a timely manner. This is helpful for one-off cases, but even more so if a brand image problem is more pervasive. Recording repeated instances of off-brand messaging could indicate a much more systemic issue at hand, potentially requiring an overhaul of training procedures across the board.

By using execution management software, complete with mobile data collection and photo-capture capabilities, the end result is a more consistent in-store experience that accurately reflects brand guidelines.

What retailers need in execution management software

Beyond photo-capture, there are some key features retailers should look for in an execution management solution. For instance, the solution should be fully mobile and compatible with various platforms and devices.

In addition, user experience is essential to ensuring your field teams not only use the software on a regular basis, but can quickly execute tasks, document store conditions, and share reports with administrators. An intuitive dashboard will help encourage frontline employees to ditch more time-consuming practices like recording information by pen and paper or through spreadsheets.

Access to custom tables is crucial to breaking down large sets of data and making sense of the vast quantities of in-store information that will be made available after an execution management solution has been fully implemented.

GoSpotCheck includes all of these features and more, providing your one-stop-shop for successful, high-performance retail data collection and execution management.

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