Top 3 Rules to Optimize the Last Mile of Service

For years a retailer's success was based on its ability to adapt store operations to the market and customers. With today's speed of disruption, even the agile retailers are having difficulty keeping up with the pace of change to stay ahead of the curve to avoid losing market share. RIS' recent report, Next-Gen Store Ops: Optimizing the Last Mile of Service, explores how retailers can leverage service, execution and systems to provide the last mile that customers have come to expect.
As customer expectations increase, the stakes for next-generation stores are higher than ever. Mobile, e-commerce, workforce management platforms and flexible fulfillment are all key pieces to the customer satisfaction puzzle. Retailers that respond by offering more products in more ways must also be prepared to manage greater operational complexity while delivering a seamless customer experience. The increasing number of options available in today's retail environment put immense pressure on retailers to adapt yesterday's brick-and-mortar stores to today's retail environment.
The challenge CEOs today face is to determine how to manage the elevated expectations while continuing to deliver a consistent brand experience. The shifts in consumer behavior, preferences and expectations are forcing retailers to completely transform their businesses, reevaluating the in-store customer experience, fulfillment options and how best to manage the workforce. Here are three rules retailers can follow to deliver the last mile of service:
  1. Service: Front-line employees are not only the face of the brand, but also a significant expense. It's important to remember that a retailer's reputation and financial well-being is directly tied to the performance of its in-store associates. Today, retailers are moving away from a product-centric focus and shifting to a customer-first mentality, which requires upgrades to WFM systems to keep pace with the changing philosophy.
  2. Execution: Retailers recognize that consumers want to be the ones calling the shots. To keep up with customer expectations, retailers are focusing on using mobile to enhance the shopping experience — both inside and outside of the store — by providing rich content about products and pricing.
  3. Systems: To handle the omnichannel reality, retailers need a real-time view of inventory, such as flexible fulfillment. This is becoming a competitive advantage for retailers and a must-have for those committed to selling across channels, helping to cut down markdowns and drive foot traffic to brick-and-mortar locations.
As customer demand continues to rise and the number of shoppable channels continues to increase, retailers must create the next-generation store and have the operations to support it in order to accommodate the service, delivery options and store experience that customers demand. The retail industry will see more transformation this year than it has in previous, and it will be interesting to see how the next-generation store evolves. For more information, download the full report, here.
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