Retail focus: Why a consumerized intranet is your secret weapon

In an industry where customer experience, communication and staying modern is do or die, is the retail industry missing a trick by delivering sub-standard digital experiences when it comes to their employees?

All organizations need to be adaptable and modern in order to be competitive in the market place, but this has always been particularly crucial within the retail sector. With brand perception and customer experiences both in-store and digitally making or breaking retailers, it’s vital this industry equip themselves with the necessary innovative tools to keep ahead of the competition.

The focus on this innovation is often funnelled into the customer facing side of the business. And rightly so, as without great customer experiences, a brand will fail. However, the rapid innovation that customers are coming to expect when shopping is often not reflected internally within a retail organization. This means that those tasked with delivering the brand face-to-face are often poorly equipped to do their job brilliantly.

In an industry where customer experience, communication and staying modern is do or die, is the retail industry missing a trick by delivering sub-standard digital experiences when it comes to their employees?

Why do internal experiences matter?

Employee churn in retail is a serious issue and it’s continuing to grow, reaching 5% turnover a month in 2014. The more employees that call it quits, the more expensive it is to find others to fill theirs shoes and get them trained-up. Subsequently, employee engagement is one of retailers’ biggest concerns for 2016.

Is your intranet being utilized effectively to support your employees?

The intranet is still commonly seen by lots of employers as quite an unexciting place to visit. Often it can be laborious to use, clunky and an all-round difficult experience, mainly taken up by outdated news not relevant to your job and dull HR forms that are out of date. With technology at its current state and the collaboration technology available such as Office 365, there is really no reason for intranets to be held-back in what they can deliver for internal communications, sales processes, HR processes, order fulfilment, customer service process, social interaction and more, all driving employee engagement.

How to take your intranet from ‘Obsolete’ to ‘Outstanding’

For retail in particular, employees have a variety of day-to-day systems they use to keep customers happy. Whether it’s to look up product availability, dispatch an order, manage a customer query or update a website. Your intranet should be the hub of all this activity with links and integrations to the processes you use every day, giving employees a central location to get work done.

This encapsulates the trend of a Digital Workplace, the idea that the more connected, streamlined, flexible and transparent your digital systems, the more engaged employees with feel, as it’s easier for them to do their jobs. It’s essential that all digital systems are social, mobile, personalized and targeted to allow employees to get the most out the Digital Workplace, allowing them to work anywhere, connect in new ways and only see information that’s relevant to them

Allow the key trends in retail to shape the needs of your employee intranet

In order to produce a solution that really adds value to your organization, it’s helpful to look towards the digital trends that have emerged on the consumer side of retail. Analyze what experiences customers have come to expect and recognize how valuable and impactful they could be for your employees’ solutions.

  • User experience - It’s a no-brainer. If your consumer facing website lacks great design and visual appeal, customers won’t stick around. Further still, if the user experience isn’t up to scratch, customer satisfaction can plummet. Your intranet is a representation of your brand, don’t compromise on exceptional user experience and design.
  • Consumers want things fast - The technology that your intranet sits on needs to be able to handle what your organization requires to be productive. Ensure your intranet is lightning fast and the functionality is exceptional to keep employees happy.
  • Personalized experiences - As well as focusing on creating well designed internal tools that are engaging; it is also increasingly necessary to target content and functionality to employees and allow them to personalize based on their own preferences. For example, users within the main office will have different needs than those on the shop floor.
  • Multi-channel & Mobile Experiences - As the trend for consuming content on the move is prevalent for customers, it is also popular within businesses. Many organizations are allowing ‘bring your own device’ policies and therefore content presented on a tool such as an intranet needs to be compatible with any type of device. Looking back at the roles within retail, it becomes pivotal to optimize mobile for those users not in head office.
  • Social - The retail industry heavily relies on social networks to hook customers in and promote their products. Why does this stop at the office door? There is great value in allowing your employees to interact using enterprise social and it can vastly improve communication and collaboration. Allowing managers in different regions to discuss different store layouts, promotion successes or product successes means that knowledge gets shared faster with those who need it.

The requirements above are now common place for some of the best intranet solutions, ready and waiting to be built upon and customized for a truly digital workspace. Creating an outstanding digital workplace for your employees will ultimately improve process, culture, productivity and engagement, equipping your employees with the tools and resources they need to deliver exceptional experiences to your customers in return.

Not sure this is necessary for your own retail organization?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • If you ask a member of your shop floor staff what the company brand stands for do you get an answer that is aligned with those of senior management?
  • What would the bottom line look like if we halved staff turnover? And how would that impact the experience that our customers receive?
  • If 34% of shoppers would rather search for an answer on a smart phone than ask a sales assistant when in store, are you really ensuring that the remaining 66% of people are getting a better answer from your staff than they can get on the internet?

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