JUNE 2024

Shaping the Future of Work with Burlington Stores

Earlier this year, at NRF 2024, Matthew Guiste, Global Retail Technology Strategist at Zebra Technologies, steered a discussion with Burlington Stores' Vikram Subramanian on the concept of modern store, focusing on customer expectations, operational efficiency, employee engagement, and future trends. They highlighted the importance of meeting customer needs, optimizing inventory management, and empowering associates with tools like Zebra's workflow tasking and scheduling solutions. Vikram shared the positive outcomes of implementing Zebra's technology, including improved efficiency and engagement among associates. Matthew emphasized the significance of technology, culture, metrics, and adaptability in driving success in the retail industry.

Vikram Subramanian, the Vice President of Store Operations at Burlington Stores, articulated his insights on revolutionizing retail operations during a recent engagement. With over two decades of experience in the retail sector, Vikram provided a comprehensive view of Burlington's journey and the industry's evolving landscape.

Legacy and Evolution

Commencing with Burlington's historical legacy as the iconic Burlington Coat Factory, Vikram highlighted the brand's transformation into an authorized retailer with a presence in 46 states and Puerto Rico. Despite being purely brick-and-mortar, Burlington Stores boasts nearly 1000 stores, generating close to $10 billion in revenue annually. Subramanian emphasized the company's focus on delivering value to customers through a meticulously curated selection of merchandise. "We transitioned from just the Coat Factory to being an authorized retailer, with a presence in 46 states and Puerto Rico, about 1000+ stores close to $10 billion dollars in revenue and over 50,000 associates or employees," he articulated.

Matthew Guiste

Global Retail Technology Strategist
Zebra Technologies

Vikram Subramanian

VP, Store Operations
Burlington Stores

Play Video

Produced by ZEBRA


Adapting to Customer Expectations

Vikram underscored the shifting landscape of customer expectations, especially in the era of e-commerce and instant gratification. He emphasized Burlington's commitment to providing exceptional merchandise value, combining elements of price, fashion, brand, and quality to meet customer demands effectively. He remarked, "A lot of brands and retailers are delivering those experiences with near instant gratification. So that kind of environment for us as a retailer, building the store, to really any retailer, you have to be intensely focused on that customer value proposition."

Enhancing Associate Experience
Recognizing the pivotal role of engaged associates in driving customer satisfaction, Vikram emphasized Burlington's efforts in enhancing the associate experience. From leveraging technology solutions like Zebra's task management to fostering a culture of collaboration and respect, Burlington prioritizes empowering its associates to excel in their roles. "Engaged associates lead to happy customers and drive greater customer loyalty. We focus on providing our store associates with the right processes, tools, and culture to deliver exceptional customer experiences consistently," he conveyed.

Utilizing Technology for Efficiency
Vikram detailed Burlington's strategic utilization of technology to streamline operations and enhance associate engagement. From implementing cloud-based task management solutions to leveraging mobile capabilities for on-the-floor interactions, Burlington ensures that associates have access to the tools they need to succeed. He highlighted, "We've invested heavily in mobile capabilities in our stores, allowing associates to engage with customers on the sales floor efficiently. Our goal is to provide a seamless experience for both our associates and customers."

Measuring Success and Adapting
Vikram stressed the importance of measuring business outcomes and continuously adapting to changing market dynamics. Whether it's through metrics like scheduling efficiency or customer satisfaction surveys, Burlington remains agile in responding to evolving customer needs and market trends. "We focus on driving specific metrics to measure the impact of our initiatives on both associate engagement and customer satisfaction. This data-driven approach allows us to make informed decisions and adapt quickly to changing market conditions," he expressed.

Future Outlook
Looking ahead, Vikram expressed optimism about Burlington's growth prospects and the retail industry's dynamic nature. He emphasized the importance of embracing change, staying agile, and continually innovating to thrive in an ever-evolving market landscape. "The retail industry is dynamic, with constant changes in consumer preferences and market conditions. Embracing innovation and staying agile are key to unlocking growth opportunities and navigating future challenges successfully," he concluded.

In conclusion, Vikram's insights offer a valuable perspective on transforming retail operations for the future. By prioritizing customer value, empowering associates, leveraging technology, and embracing change, Burlington Stores sets a compelling example for retailers navigating today's rapidly evolving landscape.