Experienced-based shopping cannot be replaced by online shopping. The feeling of trying on unlimited outfits without feeling compelled to buy and not being chased by retargeting online adverts is unmatched. Many states in the US are easing COVID-19 restrictions on retail stores and shoppers are sheepishly trickling back. Daily U.S. retail visits averaged 192 million for the week ending May 3, a nearly 15% increase from the prior week, according to data firm Unacast. Visits to clothing retailers rose 21% (Morning Brew). This is still 40% lower than overall estimates from the same period in 2019, and more than 80% down for apparel retailers.
Consumers are aching to go out and experience the retail freedom they had before the pandemic, consumers may be travelling or crossing states to visit counties or states that open before others. Evidence is, after Georgia allowed some retailers to open on April 24, out-of-state excursions increased 13%, per University of Maryland researchers. 92% of Georgia’s visitors came from neighboring states where stores were still closed. These can be termed as migrant consumers, accessing stores in a state not yet open in their hometown.
All this presents an opportunity for the manufacturers and retailers to work together and prepare in getting the following absolutely right:
- Get visibility: Take stock of the situation.
- Gain control: Determine immediate priorities.
- Build agility: What can be changed to succeed?
This is not possible if organizations follow the pre-pandemic way of working, especially the flow of information. The retail data needs to flow real time to be evaluated and presented as a dashboard to key decision makers within the organizations in a crystal clear manager, making decision making very proactive rather than reactive.
In this entire retail ecosystem all aspects of Retail Management needs to work as a well oiled machine. This starts from the Field Representative and Promoters who are working at the front lines and capturing this data. These front line ‘soldiers’ need to be trained, continuously informed and empowered to make decisions quickly that are fully backed by the back office.
Your field reps training is now ever so important, this should be on the go, dynamic and real time.
With so much information flowing, organizations need to filter the ‘positive’ information and keep their employees informed. This includes:
- Educating employees on COVID-19 symptoms and prevention
- Reinforcing screening protocols
- Restricting non-essential travel and promoting flexible working arrangements with better route planning.
- Preparing succession plans for key executive positions
- Aligning IT systems and support to evolving work requirements
- Focusing on cash flow
Using informal communication tools like Whatsapp or other chat platforms will not serve the purpose. Each employee will need to be assessed and evaluated and the concerns addressed. The last thing you want during these times is grapevine and crowd mentality seeping in operations. Chose a tool that can address the following:
- You are able to create your own training curriculum and design the training modules, upload the content into documents or videos. Configure exams, evaluation and feedback from each employee. One solution cannot fit all in these times.
- Customize dashboards showing current courses and future ones with new relevant information.
- Quick and continuous collaboration through forums, glossaries and chat, allows participants to have real time discussions with peers and trainers.
- Formulate an academic calendar that helps in keeping the learning milestones on track.
- The notification system allows users to receive automatic alerts about new tasks and assignments.
- Be able to monitor levels of usage of these training courses. Be able to highlight field staff who comply with these training and those who do not.
- Get individual feedback on the training material and information shared.
- Built in Reward & Recognition after completion, the ratings and certifications become part of the field rep and promoter’s profile, allowing the management to identify each of them by their level of knowledge.
A traditional training module will not work here, but the one that is designed for Field Reps and Promoters. Check out Storecheck Academy which is a plug and play system where you can create a virtual university about your brands and monitor its effectiveness in assessing field rep’s or promoter’s knowledge. Giving them access to informative content on the job will elevate their performance. This is done easily by using any device with a Web navigator.
In these times, the fittest will survive, rather than losing market share, gain market share by better preparing your field teams.