Achieving Operational Efficiency in Retail Stores
Adopting new processes and investing a large amount in technology has often seemed a nice-to-have rather than a must-have, especially across the retail sector where low margins make the justification to the business so hard.
However, at the core of the business model for any retailer is increasing sales while decreasing costs, and central to this is the need for operational efficiency. The achievement of efficiency is simply balancing the organisation’s inputs against its outputs where inputs are people, time, technology, information, finance etc. and outputs are products, services, customer experience, sales etc. In very few sectors is this balance as sensitive as it is in the retail sector. Simply because if one retailers’ output doesn’t meet customer expectations there are various other alternatives that are at least as attractive.
Therefore, to achieve success and, more importantly, to retain success, it is essential for a retailer to constantly refine the efficiency with which they convert these inputs into that all-important output.
Never before has the challenge of balancing outputs and inputs been as difficult to manage as it has been in the last two years. We have seen wild fluctuations in demand across physical and digital channels as the world has come to terms with the ever-changing environment that we live in. This volatility has caused retailers to turn to predictability, reliability and efficiency across their processes as they look to manage the input side of the equation as best they can. The best way for them to do that is to become more technologically enabled, implementing new platforms that transform inherently manual processes into digital alternatives that drive higher levels of consistency.
Across the sector, we are seeing how many digital transformation initiatives, that had previously been very tactical and short-term in nature, are becoming more strategic, with a long-term outlook. Unlike before, a patchwork point solution might solve today’s problem but without an integrated, long-term approach it’ll cause more problems in the future. So instead, the focus has become digital maturity, and this comes from aligning technology to the business, in essence, to that input-output equation.
As easy as it is to say that retailers need to become lean and efficient, we realise it’s a lot more complicated to achieve in reality. The key to success will hinge on simplification first, and technology will play a critical role in facilitating this. In each of your core business units, you have strategic platforms that support your operation. However, at the moment, they are working in isolation from the rest of the organisation. In order to work effectively, you need cross-collaboration across these business units and we can help you build that using digital workflows on the ServiceNow platform. This is made possible by consolidating the various points solutions, applications and data currently used across these disparate business units onto a single platform that will operate as your single system of action.
How will this help you achieve operational efficiencies?
Using ServiceNow’s integration capabilities you can build workflows that orchestrate the movement of data in and out of your various point solutions. Using the intelligence that is native to the platform, allows you to automate manual processes by automatically routing and assigning work based on the business rules that you configure. But this is only the first step. Using native AI and machine learning capabilities the platform learns how you go about your day-to-day operations and suggests process improvement opportunities such as offering an automated alternative. Since your processes and data all sit in a single data model, you can create on-demand, real-time dashboards and analytics to monitor current service and operation health. However, potentially the most underrated aspect of the platform is its development capability. With all of your data under one roof and the workflow capability native to the platform, you can leverage ServiceNow to build custom, bespoke solutions that support your unique business requirements. If ServiceNow doesn’t offer it out-of-the-box, build it yourself.
In all likelihood, a project of this nature will result in transformation at every level of your current operation and that is never going to be a simple feat. At Crossfuze, our experience makes us sensitive to the complexity and therefore the risks associated with a project like this. As a result, it is important to us to sit down with you to understand how this aligns to your wider business objectives so that we can maximise your success.
The word ‘partner’ is ubiquitous across the technology industry, but very few partnerships live up to the true meaning of the word. It’s normally more of a development agreement, a customer needs a new solution and the ‘partner’ develops it for them. At Crossfuze, we want a true business partnership. This means we want to build close relationships across both executive and operational levels as we believe that this is the only way to achieve lasting value.