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Retail Workflow Management

Retail Workflow Management

What is Retail Workflow Management? Why Implement it?

Retail workflow management is the science and art of planning the execution of business processes and operations in a retail enterprise. It is a sum total of multiple principles, policies, tools, and practices applied to achieve better management of retail operations. The idea is to bring all the processes and operations within the scope of planning and execute them accordingly. Technically, the planned retail business processes and operations are presented in the form of flowcharts or any other suitable diagrammatic form aided by SOP manuals.

Implementing retail workflow management helps businesses in achieving smooth internal and external operations. Few important benefits are underlined below.

  • Timely and accurate purchase of inventory, maintaining desired stock levels, adherence to merchandising strategies
  • Improved cash handling, accounting, and financial management
  • Consistency in delivering the desired customer experience – visual merchandising, in-store experiences, quicker checkout, accuracy in order fulfilment
  • Better coordination with suppliers and service providers,
  • Assistance in fulfilling regulatory compliances,
  • Better performance of employees and teams, PMS
  • Better interdepartmental coordination
  • Groundwork for automation

How YRC can help your business

Process Design and Mapping

Our experts will conceptualise, design, and map the entire gamut of business processes and operations applicable to your retail enterprise. We use Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and retail business process flow charts. The goal is to bring forth and establish how every process in your retail business shall be executed. It could be about how your business manages purchase and inventory, carries out customer support, hires employees, handles cash and accounts, conducts audits, etc. With SOPs for retail store operations in place, every team member in every process and every department would remain in clear understanding of what they are supposed to do and when. The required operational standards shall be defined for every activity so that your employees know what to deliver.

Process Optimisation

Our objective is not only to map processes but also to rediscover the best ways to execute them. To achieve this, our experts consider many factors. For example, they examine the relevance of every operational activity in a process. If the activity is non-relevant or not contributing to the overall process goals, it may be removed from the process. This enhances the speed of the process and also reduces the unnecessary workload of employees. This may sound like a very ordinary technique but in business, we tend to ignore many such minute operational details. On the macro scale, such redundant activities pile up to create significant process inefficiencies. But if you get them sorted from the root, they can no longer be the hidden ghosts.

Process Standardisation

Many people construe process standardisation as infusing standards into processes. Process, as a concept, already includes standards. Process standardisation is following the same set of procedures or workflows for the same process. For example, you cannot have different sets of operational standards for customer support in the different branches of your retail brand. But if you do not have a process in the first place, there is no benchmarking to follow.

When we develop SOPs and retail workflows, we seek to ensure that these could be implemented all across. Minor improvisations may be necessary to suit local business and operational requirements. But on the overall, your business will operate with uniformity and consistency in processes and operations.

Secure Inter-functional Coordination

The success of a process also depends on its ability to coordinate with other processes. For example, for HR to process payroll, they need to coordinate with the finance department for the disbursal of salaries. If this coordination is not well-planned, both the payroll and the salary disbursal process get hampered. Even if it is a small business, this inter-functional coordination is required. Thus, when our experts plan and develop the retail SOPs, they take into consideration these inter-functional dependencies. With the help of retail flowcharts, it becomes easy for employees from different departments to spot the junctures where processes cross paths. In small businesses, achieving this coordination is not difficult. But with larger businesses and complex processes, it is always better to have a well-established operational roadmap in the form of retail workflow operational processes.

Become Process-oriented

Our vision in offering retail workflow management solutions is to help your business become a process-oriented enterprise. By this, we mean that we will strive to ensure that every process and operation in your retail enterprise shall be carried out in a planned and systematic manner. Any operational detail that can be planned will be brought under the ambit of operational planning. With robust operational mapping, you can remain assured that the right tracks have been laid. Of course, this does not negate the need for supervising and monitoring but the same gets drastically reduced. For instance, if you own a retail store, with a well-planned retail store management system in place, you would not have to get extensively involved in the routine operational affairs of your store.

Retail Operations Manuals

Flowcharts are a great way to understand workflows. But not every process or process component could be deciphered in terms of flowcharts, at least not while retaining simplicity. Briefs and short explanations become necessary sometimes. This is where operations manuals come in handy. Apart from text-based explanations and images, workflow charts can also be added to operations manuals. Having operations manuals significantly simplifies the need for supervision. They serve as an operational guide to employees. We relish practising the science and art of presenting even the most complex of business processes and operations in a concise and comprehensive manner that can be easily picked up by the users.

Assistance in Decoding Business Software Requirements

If you are contemplating digitising your retail enterprise, we can help you in identifying the software requirements vis-à-vis your business requirements and finalising a suitable software platform. A critical prerequisite to ascertaining the business-software requirements and zeroing in on a suitable software platform is having your business processes and operations defined. You cannot choose the right software if you do not already know the operational and strategic business requirements. This is the point where our retail workflow design services links with helping you choose the right software platform for your retail enterprise. The final decision on what software product to buy and from whom shall be yours.

About Your Retail Coach (YRC)

YRC is a retail and eCommerce consulting firm with a rich experience of having worked with more than 500 clients across 25+ verticals. As a brand with a budding international presence, we seek to uphold international standards in service design and delivery. We engage professional and experienced retail consultants.

To know more about retail consulting services or for a quick word with one of our retail operations consultants, please drop us a message.

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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.