Today, even small retail stores are subject to competition from other offline and online players. The size and stature of the business have become immaterial when it comes to the application of contemporary industry standards and business strategies. Thus, retail stores cannot be managed with traditional approaches.
One area where retail stores could easily cut the mustard for modern-day operational standards is by implementing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). This blog highlights five benefits of implementing SOPs in retail stores.
Standardisation of Processes
Retail stores must maintain uniformity in their services. It has consequences on customer experience. For instance, if home delivery timeline is maintained at, say, 30-45 minutes, the same should not fall. Citing ‘too many’ orders’ as an excuse does not go down well with customers. If the workload increases for the existing staff, that is an internal matter and is expected to be tackled internally. By implementing SOPs for the home delivery process, a retail store could ensure that deliveries take place within the promised timelines every day for every order. SOPs also help in identifying the workload on employees and preparing accordingly.
Shorter Learning Curve
If the owner or the manager sets a new rule now and then for the same task, it gets difficult for the employees to achieve perfection with their work. Take the example of stacking inventories on the shelves. The concerned policies and procedures must be established and communicated to the employees. Otherwise, they will do what they think is best or the owner/manager will have to intervene every time. In retail consulting, we often witness that once employees get accustomed to doing their tasks within the framework of policies and procedures, they also evolve improvisations at individual levels that may never be anticipated or prescribed in any book.
From being an owner to becoming an entrepreneur
You are not an entrepreneur in the true sense if you have to helicopter-monitor your store operations all day long. If you simply want to be an owner, you can do that. But if you want to be an entrepreneur, you would need to focus on the bigger priorities of your business. Are you able to spare time on developing new customer segments for your store? Are you able to think about the growth and expansion of your store? If you are involved in routine store operations, it is unlikely for you to be able to make time for long-term goals. By implementing SOPs, you could free yourself from micromanaging and focus on the macro business goals. You would still remain in control of your store operations in meaningful ways.
Seamless Customer Experience
Today, retail brands are going omnichannel and running multiple stores across cities and countries. As retail consultants, we always maintain that businesses cannot afford their operations to go inconsistent across stores because the brand is one. Every day and from every store, the brand voice needs to come out as unequivocal. Achieving this would require consistency and uniformity in store operations. And SOPs help retail brands accomplish this objective by following a unified operational plan across stores. The end result is a seamless customer experience no matter the location of the store.
To measure performance, the standards to gauge performance must exist. By defining the operational framework, SOPs provide the yardstick against which the performance of employees could be measured. It reveals the knowledge and competencies required to execute tasks based on which the KRAs and KPIs could be established. With years of experience in SOP development for retail and eCommerce, we believe that SOPs provide a much more realistic assessment of the required competencies than theoretical assumptions. For instance, it is easy to say that communication etiquette is important in retail stores. But SOPs can go beyond such simplicity and seek to define what to say and what not.
The advantages of SOPs easily go beyond the five points discussed in this blog. Each point releases a host of other advantages. The essence of SOPs is to become process-oriented and leave no aspect of operations to chance or random decision-making. In addition to operational precision, SOPs also offer operational preparedness for a wide range of field circumstances.
For more on SOP implementation in retail stores or to speak to one of our retail SOP consultants, please visit our website. Drop by our blog section and YouTube channel for regular updates on the retail & eCommerce industry.