How Technology Leads to Lower FM Costs in the Retail Industry
By Scott Dickson
In retail, e-commerce typically dominates the headlines when considering technological advancements. How retailers respond to consumer behavior is understandably the area of tech that receives the most attention, investment, and R&D. But what about the infrastructure of the retail industry's foundation at the store level?
Facilities management (FM) departments are using technology to improve operations within brick-and-mortar. At a time when budgets are under extreme scrutiny, a facility's analytics, real-time data, and reporting allow FM teams to make informed decisions while maintaining a high level of customer experience. At 20 Digits, we see technology impact FM in a few key areas.
Retail in North America is one of the many industries impacted by a tight labor market in 2022. Inside a physical store, the principal focus for employees should be interacting with customers to improve service and increase sales. Every minute an associate or store manager addresses a work order is time away from the customer. Mobile technology keeps employees on the floor, and retailers see a tangible return on that investment over time.
Instead of phone calls and time on a computer (if a computer even exists in a store), the front-of-house employees can now take photos, enter work orders, access HRIS tools, and have insight into inventory at their fingertips. For example, if a store has a roof leak, an employee can add a work order and take a photo in one step. A provider and a retailer can access the mobile technology offsite to check the status of an order anywhere in the world.
Real-time communication between the store manager and the service provider streamlines workload and decreases errors. This new process also dramatically improves service verification and decreases the time spent on each job. It helps the skilled trades get back to what they do best while getting paid quicker. Another result of advanced mobile communications tools is more accurate and streamlined customer satisfaction and NET promoter scores. The manager can review their work and report back on the job quickly and efficiently.
Another area where we see the potential for long-term savings is security. Data breaches can cost companies millions of dollars. Implementing well-defined policies, procedures, and practices can prevent damage and save a retailer over time. Meeting SOC 2 compliance requirements result in a retailer having the most robust security, privacy, and confidentiality while running their business operations.
SOC 2 compliance goes hand-in-hand with identity and access management (IAM). We see brands who invest in this area save considerable money and headaches as they grow their operation. On the FM side, integrated facility managers can sync up with a retailer's enterprising solution to maximum safety and security.
Retailers can also experience savings through strategic partnerships in the FM space. Integrated facility management solutions with a focus on technology can provide additional cost savings by not charging subscription fees for necessary FM software.
Non-revenue producing departments are often hit the hardest when budget cuts are necessary. With the right strategy, technology, and partners in the FM space, the opportunity to impact the bottom line exists for retailers in North America.