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Change Management in Retail

Need for Change in Retail

Retail is a rapidly evolving industry and the question is no longer when to change but how to change. The combined effect of many market forces has brought this new dawn of retail. Ecommerce has spoiled customers with choice and convenience. Technology, along with its other leverages, has made retail operations quicker than ever. Businesses now emphasise more on customer experience. Omnichannel has taken competition into the cross-channel mode where every touchpoint is an opportunity for acquisition and conversion. Other generic factors like favourable demographics, rising disposable income, ease of doing business, urbanisation, etc. have provided a level playing field. In a world full of retail opportunities, every player is welcome. But every player is not welcome to stay because the industry has become extremely competitive for all. Change, innovation, improvisation, or by whatever name it is called is the only way businesses could survive and grow in this industry. The need for change in a retail business is explained with a few highlighters below.

Modernise

The retail business industry has enjoyed a stable status for a long time. Today, the cost of maintaining this stability is modernisation. There was never a need to put an edible sticker on apples or to put up a new glowing sign board. Customers anyway do not believe that stickers are edible. Nor do customers bother much about signboards if asked. But that little sticker was strong enough to make them think positively about those apples as against the ones without. They actually like that their favourite restaurant now has a new shiny and glittering signboard. Modernisation could be as simple as these small makeovers or any major internal overhauls. It helps retail businesses retain a fresh appearance and keep embracing contemporary ways of functioning.

Staying competitive

With competition coming from all sides, change helps retail businesses keep up in shape. If businesses refuse to accept the changing times and adapt themselves, it might eventually push them out of the market. Sooner or later even their loyal customers will begin to reject them. Take for example pastry shops. In every town or city, there are many small, lesser-known pastry shops that make show-stealing cakes and pastries. By just adding the online ordering facility, such shops can strengthen their hold over their customer base. Customers may not immediately start ordering online from them. But when that option is in place, the loyal customers would not have to shift to another shop if someday the need for online ordering really arises.

Enhanced operational efficiency

Increasing competition, emerging technologies, and evolving ways of management affect the efficacy of how businesses are managed. For example, if the standard home delivery timeline is 2 days and a new player comes in and starts delivering in 1 day, the existing players also begin to look into improvising their internal operations. Or the use of digital payment methods reduces the burden of cash handling activities in retail stores.

Embrace new technologies

From industrial hardware and equipment used in stores and warehouses to ERP and analytics used in the back-end, there is always a better technology and better technologies keep emerging. Embracing new technologies contribute to all the other three reasons for change discussed before – modernisation, competitiveness, and operational efficiency. Without embracing new technologies, it could and would get extremely challenging for retail businesses to make even routine operational decisions with precision. Precision in decision-making or policy/strategy formulation is important because it helps businesses perform optimally. For example, if your competitors are using analytics for greater accuracy in demand forecasting, their chances of making the right merchandising decisions and saving on inventory will be much higher than yours.

Growth and expansion: Eyes on wider possibilities

The two largest grossing companies in the world are Wal-Mart and Amazon. Both are into retailing (including eCommerce). These companies always remain in the news. They just keep innovating in one way or the other. Both the brands have relentlessly pursued growth and expansion. They acquire other companies from time to time. They never stop at developing new markets. They keep improving their services. And if you consider Amazon, the company has evolved into multiple businesses.

When we are talking about change and adaptability, defining is confining. If you keep your vision locked to only one idea, you may miss out on the business possibilities. Amazon would not have been Amazon if it kept selling books. Or what else could define Elon Musk’s interest in electric cars to taking humanity to Mars. Change, in essence, is more of an enterprising and progressive attitude than a matter of choice or far less of a compulsion.

How YRC can help

Managing change in the workplace can be a daunting task. While change in a retail business is desirable for some and necessary in many cases, this change also comes with certain standard and unique challenges. These challenges come in identifying and defining the change in terms of specific requirements, sourcing the necessary funds, securing financial preparedness for maintaining the new system, realignment or adjustments in the organisation structure and team management, redefining the workflows/processes, rebranding activities, etc.

With 10 years of experience consulting over 500+ retail and eCommerce brands and businesses, we have dealt with the ins and outs of incorporating small and big organisational changes in retail enterprises. Here’s a glimpse of YRC helps retail businesses in managing change in their organisations.

Organogram redesign

Depending on the kind of change we are talking about, varying degrees of alterations may be required in the organisation structure of the host enterprise. For example, when a new store is opened, it must be connected to the existing organisation structure. Or the existing structure might have to be modified to accommodate the new roles and positions. YRC will identify and define the new organisational requirements and redesign the organogram as per the changed business priorities.

Manpower Planning and Team Management

Change is not always about expansion. Sometimes businesses also change to lean down. For instance, instead of having five departmental stores, a retail brand may decide to have two supermarket stores. This can affect the number of employees the brand may need to retain. The team sizes might get smaller with a widened scope of responsibilities. The role of YRC is to help businesses in determining the number of employees required, carry out job analysis to define the job descriptions and specifications, and work out the structuring of the teams.

SOP Development

Change can also change how routine, operational tasks and activities are carried out in an enterprise. Even a small change within one department can affect many processes affecting the work of other departments. For example, when a retail store adds digital payment options, it creates a few new tasks for the accountant/accounts team. At the end of the day, the accounts team has the new task of reconciling the sales payments received with the sales data. How they should be doing this reconciliation must be defined. The SOP must also define what they should do if numbers do not reconcile. Being SOP experts, our team will map the change management process for the entire organisation/affected departments (as requested by clients) and redesign the functional process SOPs brought about by the changes. The goals are to envision the change in the bigger picture and ensure that workflows and processes stay aligned to the respective functional and business objectives.

Retail Training

Providing the right training is an indispensable part of any change implementation. Change may require businesses to elevate their customer services and customer experience. It is also important for the employees to have an updated understanding of the products offered and services rendered. With modernisation, retail brands cannot afford to stick to the old ways of handling customer complaints. If a new technology is introduced, employees need to be imparted the necessary skills to handle such technologies. YRC offers a holistic range of training programs intended for retail employees including team leaders and managers to help them get on board with the new changes in their organisations. We also help businesses identify the training requirements and suggest them suitable training programs.

Realigning the financial vision

Incorporating changes has financial ramifications. New forecasts and estimates are prepared for demand, sales, inventory, salaries, and other operating expenses. Some old expenses go away and new ones come in. The involvement of capital expenditure cannot be ruled out. It would be naïve to carry on business without considering these financial implications. Business plan experts from YRC help in mapping the new financial foresight and preparing the numerical roadmap. Once the financial planning is available, implementation of the changes becomes less worrisome. It becomes a part of the change management policy.

Internal Rebranding

Leadership and change management go hand in hand. A critical and foremost requirement, after the decision to change has been made, is managing the internal communication. The early communications and messages that reach out to the employees via the formal and informal routes carry a big impact on their perception of the proposed changes. The bigger the organisation, the higher the importance of this internal branding. Middle-level management plays a vital role in this process. Misconceptions lead to resistance, whether it is expressed or employees deciding to go their own ways. This internal branding is the most sensitive part of change management. The change management consultants of YRC take this issue on a serious note from the very beginning and keep it into consideration in every aspect of the planning and implementation related to change management.

About YRC

YRC is a boutique retail and eCommerce business consultancy firm. With 10+ years of experience in delivering customised and diversified business solutions, we have worked with more than 500 clients in 25+ industries. We deploy professionals and experts for service design and delivery.

For more information on our retail change management solutions, please visit our website.

FAQs

What is change management in retail and eCommerce?

Managing a change means ensuring that the transition from the existing state to the desired state takes place in a smooth and planned manner with optimum disruptions to the status quo. Specifically speaking, changes in retail and eCommerce business enterprises could emanate from:

  •         Shift from undefined operations to SOP-based operations
  •         Adoption of digital transformation and automation
  •         Migration to new technologies
  •         Business growth and expansion – new stores, new  markets locations, higher business volumes, new business divisions
  •         Change of business plan, business model, or business/functional strategies
What kinds of changes are required in my retail business?

Change management comes into the picture when you have already decided upon the changes. For example, if you have decided to incorporate a new CX strategy, the effect must reflect on your operational planning, financial and commercial plans, organisational design, recruitment, training, IT systems, etc. You will have to incorporate and manage the new ways of functioning in these and other affected areas of your business.

Will change implementation hamper my routine business operations?

The answer to that question depends on the kind and degree of change and how you plan and execute the transition. If you are talking about any enterprise-wide change, some amount of disruption is unavoidable.

Is specialised expertise necessary to implement change management in retail and eCommerce business?

When you can foresee the implications of your actions, you will plan better. The same is true for implementing any kind of change in business. And here we are not only talking about the reactions from employees but also how different business processes will respond if the right adjustments are not made. In that sense, obtaining a third perspective from someone experienced is prudence.

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We work only for Visionaries.

PROCESS AUTOMATION

The idea of having Ecommerce Consultants on-board from the beginning itself points towards reducing the involvement of the promoters in daily operations. Ecommerce Businesses willing to be a brand reaping profits & sustaining the competition must ensure that most of their processes should be automated. The more the manual intervention, the more would be the errors.

In Ecommerce business, you get only 1 chance to impress the customer & if you mess up there, you lose the customer for long.

Process automation in respect to all the activities pertaining to customers from order receiving to order fulfilment is a must for a seamless experience for the customers.

Task Management is another grey area where most deadlines fail as 90% of the tasks are assigned manually & are forgotten, unheard, misunderstood or mistaken.

YRC Team of Ecommerce Management Consultants helps to make maximum of the processes system-driven to ensure minimalistic manual intervention.

VIDEOGRAPHY & PHOTOGRAPHY

No matter how good your product is, the customer would know only if it looks good.

Photography includes the following steps:

  • Cataloguing your products
  • Cataloguing your images
  • Backup your images (A few cloud storage solutions include Dropbox, Google Drive, Bitcasa, Apple’s Cloud Storage etc.)
  • Choose the right camera & lens (You may also outsource the photography to a third party agency)

DIGITAL MARKETING

Digital Marketing includes SEO & SMM. SEO i.e. Search Engine Optimization includes activities like back-linking, meta tags, blog-writing etc. to ensure your website ranks on the 1st page on Google Search.

Next comes SMM i.e. “Social Media Marketing” which as the name suggests including promoting your products on all the social media sites, email marketing, influencer marketing & several other BTL activities.

These activities are going to be recurring & would decide the traffic on the website, the conversions, whether the right target market is tapped, the likes, the views, the orders, the reviews & much more. YRCs Ecommerce Consultants create a budget for digital marketing right from pre-launch to launch & for each month thereafter.

Building digital marketing strategies in coordination with the agency, selecting them to signing them off would be the role of YRC.

This ensures seamless coordination, detailed interactions & desired execution as it is always advisable to work with a single agency than multiple of them.

IT INTEGRATION

Selection of the right software for smooth functioning of back-end operations right from production to webstore display would be suggested and integrated by YRC Team.

YRC’s Team defines SOPs of Product Movement, maps it with the locations & people. They then create a blueprint of all the features required in the software & help in shortlisting & selection.

IT Integration involves connecting your offline inventories with real-time online webstore so when a sale occurs, inventories get deducted real time across offline as well as online platforms.

This helps in accurate inventory management, maintaining the MOQs, re-order levels & achieving the optimum inventory levels.

Some popular software include unicommerce, viniculum for your front-end website management & Genisys for your entire back-end Purchase, Production, Accounting, Invoicing etc. management.

WAREHOUSE & LOGISTICS PLANNING

  • How many cities or countries you wish to sell in?
  • Where should your Warehouse be located?
  • Should you have one warehouse in each country or city?
  • Should you be having your own delivery team in your base city?
  • Would the 3rd party vendors be reliable? What happens when they lose or misplace your product during delivery?
  • How should I manage the logistics if my goods are coming from different countries?
  • How should the goods be stored and barcoded?
  • How much space do I require for warehouse?
  • I am sure several such questions must be haunting you while you think of starting your own fashion ecommerce brand.

 

At YRC, our warehousing and logistics experts can help you devise a strategy for all of the above mentioned queries and much more.

We design the layout of the Warehouse considering the inward, goods processing, software entry, barcoding, outward, goods return, scrap storage, goods stacking & much more.

Logistics route plan is devised considering the manufacturer to your warehouse and from there to last mile delivery locations.

UI & UX DESIGNING

This Step involves 03 distinct parts:

Part 1: Choosing the right Platform:

From several platforms available in the market right from Shopify to magento, woocommerce, prestoshop, wordpress etc. you must choose the one that fits best for your business

Part 2: UX Designing:

“UX” denotes User Experience, which if put in simple language is building the functional requirements of the website.

UX Designing includes designing the features required in the website, customer journey map, website features, the browsing features, navigation features, ecommerce order management process flow, checkout cart features, catalogue management, ecommerce payment system, cross selling features & much more.

“As per statistics, 68% of the customers abandon the carts before payment”

An interesting UX ensures the customer sticks on to the website for a longer time.

Part 3: UI Designing:

UI stands for User Interface, which means designing the look and feel of the website. UI includes using the right colours, elements and the entire aesthetics of the website.

A good User Interface ensures the user completes the task that he has come for. It navigates the user through the journey of the brand in the simplest but most effective way.

The UX designer maps out the bare bones of the user journey; the UI designer then fills it in with visual and interactive elements.

If User experience is the bare bone, user interface wraps it up with an attractive cape.

At YRC, our team if experts can help you develop the entire User Journey to ensure it is engaging!

SAMPLING & PRODUCTION

This step follows the “Designing” Phase, whether you have an in-house design team, freelance designers or an outsourced design company. It is one of the most exciting phases, as here you see your designs turning into products & your ideas turning into reality.

In most start-up cases, production is outsourced i.e. brands tie-up with the established manufacturers/ job-workers to get their products manufactured.

Sampling involves multiple 04 Stages, Fit-Sample, Prototype Sample, Pre-Production Sample & the Production Sample.

Prototype Sample is the first sample provided to the buyer. It can be in any fabric/ colour. This sample is just to understand whether the product design looks equally great in reality.

Fit Sample, as the name suggests is prepared to check the fit of the garment i.e. the various sizes, length, width etc.

Pre-production is made by the actual production line. Here the stitching quality and other aspects related to manufacturing are checked. This is the last stage where rejection can be accepted.

Production Sample is made before the production which is the replica of what is going to be finally produced.

Once you are through with all this, you are good to go ahead & get your goods manufactured.

PRODUCT DESIGNING / SOURCING

Product Designing or Sourcing is the heart of the Ecommerce Fashion Brand.

Product Designing / Sourcing can be done in several ways, as follows:

  • In-house Design Team
  • Freelance Designers
  • Outsourced Design Team
  • Ready Product Sourcing (From Manufacturer or Wholesaler)

At YRC, we evaluate your business strategy & business model to arrive at the decision, which of the above ways would be best-fit for your business. In certain cases, product sourcing may be a combination of the above.

These are the people who are going to build your brand! Whether they are the designers or merchandiser, your brand look is going to be in their hands.

If you are designing each garment from the scratch, the sourcing would play crucial role in developing design identity of your brand.

Sourcing includes fabric, trims, lining & all the raw material required to build the garment.

BRANDING

Branding is the “Look of the Brand”, right from logo to tagline, the colours used, the brand story, the brand communications on social media, the packaging & all the other aspects which speak directly or indirectly to the customers. Branding constitutes the look & feel of the brand & hence must be thoughtfully planned to match with the product that we are selling.

Branding must appeal to our target audience. Example : A golden colour logo depicting finesse, art, richness, premium, however beautiful it may be individually cannot go with a brand selling affordable kids wear products. So, your logo must be in-line with your brand positioning, whether you are an expensive brand or a luxury brand or a value for money brand, it must be depicted from your “Branding”.

It is an integral part to attract the target audience.

ORGANOGRAMS & SOP’s

Organogram is the “HR Blueprint” of the business which is created at the onset, to map out the team required across each function at various stages of the business. At the launch, only key people need to be got on board to ensure the project gets started & at this stage, all of them need to multi-task. Similarly, certain financial as well as operational goals are set for addition of the further team. Example, for the operations team, we hire 1 operations manager during the pre-launch phase & we add 1 more only when the business kicks-off & we reach a volume of selling more than 1000 pcs/ month or a turnover of more than 0.1 million USD.

SOPs are Standard Operating Procedures, a bible to run the entire organization right from Sales, Purchase, HR, Order receiving to Order fulfilment, Inventory Management, Accounts, Warehouse, Logistics, Supply Chain, Production & all the other relevant functions for the business. Business must be organized from its first day of operations; only then the tasks can be delegated.

At YRC, we design the organization structure, the processes, and approximate time taken to execute each process, job profile of every member within the organization, their KRAs, KPIs & the Reporting Structure.

CRITICAL PATHWAY

Critical Pathway Analysis (CPA), is a project management technique which cannot be overlooked while launching an ecommerce fashion brand. Brand launch process is cumbersome with multiple inter-dependent & time-bound tasks involved, which need to be tracked to ensure the project remains on track.

CPA outlines key tasks across the project, their turnaround time (TAT) & the dependencies of tasks upon each other. It identifies the sequence of tasks, their interdependent steps from inception to completion, their criticalities, and their dates of onset, target dates of completion along with the key responsible person for the respective activities. Critical Pathway helps in understanding the unimportant & not urgent tasks which may jeopardize the execution of the project because of an unexpected snag! It also maps out the potential bottlenecks which might be posed because of the dependencies of tasks upon each other & cases where the next task cannot be commenced before the completion of the previous one.

CPA detects the minimum & the maximum time involvement of a particular individual or team to execute the task, thereby arriving at the overall deadlines associated with the project.

At Your Retail Coach, we design the Critical Pathway & review it periodically to ensure the project is on track & the progress is measurable.

BUSINESS STRATEGY & BUSINESS PLAN

Business Strategy includes the vision, mission, goals, business model, business plan & strategy for all the functions within the organization.

Business Strategy is a well-defined plan that outlines who, what, where, why, how & when for the company; for example, who would be the target market, how to attract the target audience, when to launch new products, where to operate from, how to handle competitors, what would be the USP, what would be long term goal of the organization & several other answers to the 5Ws of Strategy.

Business Strategy aligns the organization towards a common goal. Business SWOT helps company to identify & overcome their weaknesses & focus to sharpen the strengths. Business strategy forecasts future risks and helps business in building skillsets to overcome the potential threats.

YRC’s Business Plan focuses on creating a “Blueprint” of the business, thereby deriving the feasibility of the concept & gauge whether the opportunity is lucrative to invest time, energy & effort. Business Plan creates cash flow understanding i.e. building inflow & outflow cash projections from Week zero to week 60 i.e. 05 year projection. Business Plan calculates the capital investment, operating costs, one-time costs, recurring costs & all the other numbers relevant to obtain the breakeven sales, return on investment, return on capital, internal rate of return & several other ratios. Business Plan is also one of the important requirements if you are targeting the “Investor Route”. Fund raising becomes extremely transparent & channelized. With business plan panned out clearly, the business will know until what point must it be stretched & where to stop, which reduces the probability of unplanned investments.

MARKET RESEARCH

Starting the concept of Ecommerce Fashion brand with Market Research ensures we get detailed understanding of the industry & this research report also acts as a social confirmation for your concept. Market Research helps in understanding the target locations, their population, potential online buyers for your product, competitors for each category, and top selling products of the competitors, competitors’ price range, offers & their responses & much more. Market Research helps in thorough understanding of your brand position as compared to our competitors. It helps in identifying gaps in the market, in your category along with the scope of the said product in the desired market. This will help in validation of your concept & prevents you from making the same mistakes as your fellow brands, eventually saving your time, energy & efforts. This phase is also a make or a break phase, as the market research study may at-times come up with some eye-popping numbers & statistics which might compel you to re-think on your product or category that you are planning to sell or alter your entire concept itself!! Market Research Reports analyse the competitors’ webstore for their traffic, conversion & sales. This is extremely valuable information to derive our inventory budgets & projections, which takes us to our next phase.