Are Checked Out Workers Hurting your Retail Business? Data can make all the Difference.

By John Mellor

Chief Executive Officer, Domo

Data is power. Yet if you are like many retailers, that power is only bestowed on a handful of executives who spend most of their time in the back office. That’s hardly a recipe for success, especially when most of your employees are serving customers on the frontlines and their actions can make or break your business.

The good news is that we are seeing a shift beginning to happen across retail as the power of data is being extended from small groups of executive decision makers to everyone at all levels, in all departments.

Take, for example, Harmons Grocery, a regional supermarket company that moved its database for 4,000 of its top-selling products to the fingertips of its inventory managers and suppliers through a mobile app. With the app, Harmons saw their out-of-stock problems plunge by 60 percent — even during the height of the pandemic.

Putting your data to work for everyone from the executive suite to the frontlines can be one of the smartest moves you make this year.

How it starts

A giant auto parts retailer moved data access from ethernet-tethered laptops to a smartphone app that its district managers could easily access in real-time as they walked the aisles of their stores. This data helped focus specific store activity on the top actions for the biggest business impact. As a result, the company saw a surge in store productivity.

And a Fortune 50 apparel retailer gave its stockroom associates access to real-time inventory data in the form of an app that turned the restocking of shelves into a game. The workers could win prizes, while making it more likely that customers could find the merchandise they wanted and not walk out of the store without making a purchase.

Real-time insights must reach the hands of the people doing the work if data is going to inspire the in-the-field, up-to-the-minute decisions and actions that translate into business success. Tech tools need to be able to work for your non-desk workers, whether it be your sales associates, store operations team, warehouse workers or even those who drive your trucks.

It’s what an increasingly digital-native workforce is demanding — the same ease of use, and actionable data and insights that they already take for granted in the everyday consumer apps and technology they use in their non-work lives.

Giving them access to data through modern data tools such as user-friendly apps that simplify and automate their work, while also giving them insights they need to make smarter decisions and take more informed actions, can make their work more enjoyable and engaging. As importantly, this access to data has the power to multiply the impact of your employees’ individual contributions in a very meaningful way.

It’s no secret that retailers will continue to face complex challenges in the years ahead. As the industry is faced with ongoing talent shortages, lingering supply chain issues and unpredictable consumer preferences, putting your data to work for everyone from the executive suite to the frontlines can be one of the smartest moves you make this year.

The State of the Retail Industry 2023

JAN 2023