By Joanne Heyob
If you know, you know. It’s a big deal to convert yesterday’s basic transactional store into a 21st century omni-optimized micro-fulfillment center. But in order to compete with the ultimate retailer that goes by the name of Amazon, retailers need to make big changes to stores themselves and the operations that makes them run like the commerce machines they should be.
At WD, we often have the opportunity to remake a traditional, transactional store from the ground up. This is the way you bring a store into relevance in today’s retail world. We like to call it Extreme Makeover – Retail Edition.
Whether it’s a convenience store, beauty section, pet department or a complete big box store, it’s no small task to make wholesale changes. But most stores were built way before delivery, BOPIS, and e-commerce changed everything.
Enough of the setup. Let’s dive into the main steps for an extreme makeover.
- Get employees to buy in, then give them the proper training
Often an afterthought that should be a constant thought, store employees are the difference between success and failure. They’re on the ground floor. They’re interacting with products and employees every day. We’ve seen countless retailers drop in a new BOPIS program without properly training employees. The result? Customers suffer. The BOPIS experience flounders and shoppers find other stores who can run things better.
We talked extensively to employees to understand missteps in the store journey. Large products were impossible to stock. There wasn’t enough room in receiving to store product and receive at the same time. These are real world problems that need to be addressed with the new version of the store.
- Determine the appropriate size for order fulfillment back of house (BOH)
Possibly the toughest change for old school retailers to accept. Sales per sq. foot are dead. Online sales have to be included. That’s the new measurement.
Knowing this, inventory needed to account for omnichannel. Retailers’ data showed which products were heavy hitters through ecommerce and which were bigger in-store purchases. So, we designed the expanded fulfillment/receiving rooms to accommodate.
- Assess the way customer service interacts with BOPIS
We’ve all seen the customer service/BOPIS fails. Customers don’t know where to go. They wait in line for 15 minutes only to be told they have to go wait in another line because this register can’t take returns. In today’s Amazon world, that is a full-blown shopping disaster. One can bet the next time the customer considers buying that product they waited more than five minutes in a BOPIS line for will instead arrive in less than 24 hours on their doorstep in a smiling cardboard box.
After reviewing projections for redesigned stores, we determine the best location in the store for BOPIS. Our research shows consumers don’t even want to go into the store if they don’t have to, so that influences our recommendation. Employees would be trained to operate both customer service and BOPIS, but the sections would have clear wayfinding marked for customers.
- Make BOPIS sing
It’s honestly not enough to just offer BOPIS services anymore. Stores have to get the whole online-to-offline experience right. When arriving at the store, wayfinding starts in the parking lot. Does the retailer take up precious parking spots close to the entrance or does it offer a dedicated lane for BOPIS only? Our position is to not disrupt traditional shoppers while giving BOPIS shoppers an efficient way to get in and out.
For shoppers who preferred to come into the store, we created dedicated fitting rooms in the BOPIS areas of the store, so customers could quickly try on products without having to walk to another part of the store.
- Make the in-store experience dance
There are reasons why shoppers still go to physical stores. Experience is everything. They want to try before they buy, they want to be entertained, and they want it to be memorable. We created flexible shop-in-shops. We even designed areas where customers could test out products.
- Remember the employees (yes, they get two spots on the list)
In addition to getting initial buy-in, today’s store needs to make things easier for employees. Staff are required to do a lot more than they used to. So they need the right tools to communicate with each other and with customers. They also need to be treated well. Once they’re trained on the new customer service process, BOPIS, inventory, fulfillment, etc. the last thing the store wants is endless turnover. Turnover equals more training, which equals higher costs and increased likelihood of mistakes by new employees. Mistakes equate to smiling cardboard boxes for the next purchase.
There you have it, friends. A transactional store to a 21st century omni-optimized micro-fulfillment center in six easy steps. It’s so easy that all the cool brands are doing it. In all seriousness, somewhat extreme steps are necessary to take on the new retail competition. We’d venture to argue that all of the changes are logical on paper. The scary part is starting the conversion of a multi-thousand-square-foot box. That’s where WD comes in. We make it less scary. We sized up this extreme makeover. We have the strategy, brand, operations, and build expertise to do the same for your brand.