3 Top Tips To Improve Retail Efficiency

12th May 21

Bricks and mortar shops are getting more complicated to run as the digital and physical worlds come together. Whether it’s a reserve and collect, picking orders for a third-party supplier or offering a parcel pick-up and drop-off service – it’s all great for customers, but another task for stores to take on.

Unless you plan to expand your team, you will need to pull back focus from other areas in order to free-up time to do these new tasks well. Following our retail studies, here are our top three tips on how to improve retail efficiency.

1. Digitise reporting and tracking

Using paper reports is bad for the environment and creates extra work for teams to print and discard or file afterwards. We’ve seen large stores where every department wants their reports at the same time, creating a fifteen-minute queue for the printer. And some retailers require managers to print off, sign and file a report that proves they have made a change in an online system that has an audit trail anyway.

If you visit a store and see a filing cabinet, a row of folders or stacks of unfiled paperwork, you’ve found your golden opportunity to do good for the planet and free your team from the demands of duplicated reports.

2. Manage by exception

You may carry out due diligence tasks to make sure things are running smoothly and to minimise loss. It’s worth checking if you need to do them at all or as frequently as you do.

For example, weekly cashing-up and safe checks are enough when the cash outturn is within tight tolerances. We’ve seen retailers counting and logging their safe contents even when they are only taking card payments. A check is needed, but every day is overkill.

You may have routines to check every void and refunded transaction. What you really want to know is if a colleague is refunding or voiding more than you’d expect. A targeted exception report will help you spot outliers to investigate. It can be easy to miss an outlier when you have lots of transactions to review. Exception reporting can save time and make you more accurate by helping you focus on the things that matter.

3. Automate as much as you can

Some of the things that historically required a local logbook can be automated due to the emergence of the internet. A great example is networked chillers that automatically track their own temperature and quietly do their own thing unless something goes wrong and then they alert you. Not only does it save time taking temperatures, calibrating probes in-store, it also makes life a lot easier for your audit function too.

Are you still doing stock counts when a theoretical stock figure goes negative? Why not just let the system auto-reset the count to zero overnight? There is lots of evidence to show that the more you count, the more inaccurate the stock file becomes. So save time and a paper report by just putting the figure to zero in the system.

And while we are talking about counting, we suggest you stop cyclical, PI stock counts as they may be making your stock figures less accurate. Instead, focus on keeping levels at the right amount to avoid gaps without having a mountain of stock to look after.

If you’d like some more examples of savings, check out our website for case studies and perhaps start with the Practical Productivity – Quick Wins whitepaper