Two retail associates looking at a laptop in a retail store

Why Retailers Need to Care About Tech Consolidation

  • By Matthew Ritchie

If you’re a tradesperson, owning a toolbox with the right tools is essential to getting the job done. Without one, completing a task would take a lot more time and energy. And because you never know what tools you’ll need from one day to the next, having all your gadgets in one place means you’re always prepared, no matter what surprises may occur.

Similarly, frontline retail teams—from store associates to visual merchandisers to managers and team leaders—all need an array of tools to go about completing their daily duties. But despite technological advances, a lot of those devices are woefully outdated, not to mention inefficiently dispersed across multiple platforms and gadgets.

Say you hired a contractor to fix your front door but found out they left half their tools in a junk drawer at home, and the rest were scattered haphazardly inside their truck. And what if their devices were more than 40 years old, even though new, time-saving advancements were already available at a fraction of the cost? You’d probably have some worries about their ability to do the job, and on time, right?

The same goes for retail teams. There are no doubts associates are being slowed down by jumping from one device or outdated platform to the next to communicate and get the job done.

Here’s what usually happens:

  • HQ sends directives to their stores over email, unaware if they’ve been received
  • When inboxes get clogged, stores ask superiors questions via Whatsapp, text, and over the phone in an attempt to get answers
  • When it comes time for HQ to verify in-store compliance, they have to sift through hundreds of photo submissions on intranets and shared drives that have little organizational rhyme or reason to them

The whole process is a mess.

That’s why we created Foko Retail.

With Foko Retail, retailers can centralize all of their task management and communication on a single platform that’s easily accessible from any mobile device, tablet, or computer through a safe and secure, user-specific sign-in.

Here’s how Foko Retail can save you time and money by consolidating all of your retail management software, tools, and workarounds onto a single platform that you can take anywhere.

 

Communication

Sending out store directives and ensuring they’ve been met can be a pain.

Currently, it can take numerous communication tools—from old-fashioned phone calls and emails (still one of the primary methods of communication for retailers) to text messages and messaging apps (like WhatsApp and Yammer)—to stay in touch with your team. Sadly, doing so is costing retailers millions of dollars, and they may not even know it.

Improper tech consolidation leads to poor communication, and that breeds chaos in stores. According to RIS, it prevents retailers from earning $3.7 million on average a year due to lost sales opportunities.

Foko Retail streamlines the process, allowing team members in multiple stores, regions, and departments to stay in touch with superiors through two-way conversations—all in real time. All your messages are kept strictly and privately within your company, and chatting with team members is customizable. So, whether you want to do a simple one-on-one conversation, group chat, or broadcast announcements to a specific group of users, you can do so easily.

“Communication is the grease that drives everything, and if you don’t communicate well, you’re not going to execute well,” says Dave Sanborn, Senior Director of Store Operations at Five Below, who uses Foko Retail to stay in touch with stores. “We’re not using three or four different tools to accomplish communication, we’re just using one. The efficiency we gain from the home office is tremendous, but the efficiencies we get from the stores are even better because they [have] one place for all of their information.”

 

Document Storage and Sharing

For many retailers, sharing planograms, product guides, training materials, standard operating procedures, and other information involves using shared drives or intranets to disseminate files and documents. Not only are these platforms often hard to navigate, but static (store associates and frontline teams often need other communication tools to send messages back up the chain and verify directives and instructions).

With Foko Retail, documentation can be shared—either directly or with multiple users—and users can communicate in real time if they need clarification or context about what they’re receiving.

With My Docs, Foko Retail can also store all of your team’s documents in one centralized and secure location, completely doing away with the need for shared drives and intranets.

 

Retail Task Management, Store Visits, and Auditing

Assigning tasks and retail audits to team members over email, messaging, or other third-party platforms can be confusing and time-consuming. Not only are you limited in terms of sharing visual directives and creating forms, but verifying compliance (or even finding out if assigned tasks have been received) can be tedious for managers.

Task assignment with Foko Retail, on the other hand, is a breeze.

Forms are completely customizable, meaning managers can shape surveys and forms that fit their needs and review the results and progress as it happens directly from their dashboard.

Associates can complete surveys and store visit reports directly on their phone (keeping employees where it matters most—on the sales floor and out of the back office), and frequent tasks can be automated for repeated assigning.

“In the past with the communication tools, [store managers] might have to print out 30-to-40-page documents in black and white,” Sanborn says. “Now they literally have a tablet on the sales floor that’s in color with zoom-in capabilities. It’s just common sense that we’re going to improve our execution.”

Users can also mark up images straight in the app, either through touchscreen or mouse, meaning you don’t need Photoshop or any other photo editing software to provide visual feedback. (And task results are also automatically stored and accessible at a later date, so if you’ve been using Dropbox or some other file sharing device to store images from retail audits, you can get rid of that too.)

 

Analytics on Performance and In-Store Execution

With Foko Retail, there’s no more Excel or Google Drive spreadsheets and monotonous data entry. Foko Retail automates data collection, giving admins’ insights on store compliance and execution, so they can better assess the overall health of their teams and measure their ability to carry out directives. And data can be easily exported or shared outside of Foko Retail through an external link if any higher-ups or key stakeholders want to view the findings and information.

 

Training and Best Practice Sharing

Considering retail has one of the highest turnover rates of any industry, retailers and brands need software in place to share training documents, teach staff best practices, and communicate critical goals effectively and efficiently. A lot of times, they end up relying on gamified platforms that attempt to boost engagement through badges, points, and leaderboards that make tedious tasks a little less mind-numbing.

Foko Retail does away with the gimmicks. Our platform allows managers to communicate directly with staff, either through company and region-specific best practice and training channels that emphasize consistent brand rules, or one-on-one conversations and surveys that open up the lines of communication and test skills.

 


 

You don’t need tons of platforms and devices to manage and monitor retail operations at every location—just one.

Find out why Foko Retail’s mobile-first retail task management and communication software is trusted by 60+ of the biggest names in retail.

 

About the Author

Matthew Ritchie is a content marketing specialist and former arts and culture journalist. He lives in Ottawa, ON. When not researching and writing about the retail industry, he can be found hiking the trails of nearby Gatineau Park or alphabetizing his record collection.