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We need to talk about empowering retail’s real heroes: Frontline staff

American author Seth Godin once gave an interesting take on retail: “People do not buy goods and services; they buy relations, stories, and magic.” In other words, the retail experience has a strong correlation with “how” the product is positioned, managed, and sold at the store. Under this premise, the frontline employees essentially become the custodians of retail experience. And a reputable study agrees — according to PwC(1), employees are responsible for 71% of the experience. 

However, has the digital transformation in retail been consistent with this notion? One in four frontline workers does not think so, as per Forbes’ survey(2). While digitalization has permeated across the retail value chain, optimizing several functions, its impact on retail employee engagement has been rather limited. With digitalization set to grow, retail brands that intend to drive superior experience will need to adopt technologies aimed at upskilling, enhancing productivity, and increasing the digital dexterity of frontline employees.

Empowering employees through full-stacked platforms

When MAST Consulting recognized the need for greater employee engagement, it approached it from a multi-dimensional viewpoint, exploring how every employee interaction can be optimized. The first priority was to give brands a single-window holistic view of all employee touchpoints, followed by creating connected digital experiences. The objective was to maximize their productivity, optimize their workflows, provide them with valuable insights, and in turn stoke their creativity. All these culminated in the development of our RIAA (Retail Intelligence and Analytics App), which is a full-stacked, app-based platform with many first-to-market value propositions. 

Connected employee engagement

Following the pandemic outbreak, employee experience is being emphasized from all quarters. Leaders are adopting empathy-driven strategies, wherein transparent communication has become key. In-house apps allow employees to stay connected, collaborate, and coordinate tasks efficiently, in real-time. Instant messaging also reduces unnecessary, manual interactions, thus enabling employees to keep their focus on retail’s critical aspects such as customer experience. 

Streamlined operations

Retail is a people business, which comes down to providing the right product to the right person at the right time. This task will require employees to stay organized, triage their tasks, and be prepared to address customer queries with accurate insights. Algorithms in connected platforms will analyze operational data and enable insight-led scheduling and task management, thus streamlining frontline functions. An employee will be alerted of the task that needs to be performed at a particular time, along with all supporting information. App-based platforms also gamify the scheduling function, engaging employees as a result. 

AI and automation

Data-driven insights through AI analytics will enable frontline staff to maximize their productivity and make the right decisions. Store-wide integration of data across touchpoints will alert, in real-time, any operational anomalies, so that rectification can be swift and the retail experience is smooth. For multi-outlet brands, data-driven insights are an opportunity to perform accurate retail audits, by comparing two or more store data. Leaders can also identify functions that can be automated, and further minimize repetitive tasks, enabling frontline employees to dedicate their time and focus to the retail experience. 

A culture of accountability and empowerment

The most enticing value proposition of intelligence and analytics apps is the culture of accountability, transparency, and empowerment they create. This culture is conducive to greater talent attraction and retention, which further add to a brand’s bottom line. In fact, a study(3) goes as far as to suggest that companies that engage employees have customer loyalty rates 233% higher than those that don’t. Such numbers cannot be ignored, to say the least. 

And leaders, for their part, can continuously enhance workforce productivity due to the open-API platform’s ability to course-correct and allow seamless integration with future technologies. Even if a worker leaves, the replacing one can easily operate at optimal capacity from the get-go, thanks to the app’s user-friendly interface. It is such possibilities, along with the impact they can have on the retail experience and organizational bottom lines, that make a compelling case for engaging frontline staff through intelligence and analytics apps like RIAA. Click here to learn more.