Humans are the heart of retail operations at Future Stores 2022

July 20, 2022

We’re still thinking about some of the best moments of Future Stores Seattle last week! Future Stores brings together retail executives focused on store experience, operations, innovation, and omnichannel for two days of networking and learning. 

Here are some of our favorite moments and takeaways from the conference 👇

The roles and goals of retail stores are still evolving

We’ve been redefining and rethinking and revolutionizing the role of brick and mortar stores since before a global pandemic, since long before the digital shopping era. So it’s no surprise that we’re still reworking what the modern in-store shopping experience “should” be now. It’s evident, based on the discussions at Future Stores, that (now more than ever) stores must be fluid and agile. 

“Once the pandemic hit, everything changed. Teams went from being just salespeople to being ambassadors,” says Mark Cardinale Director, Retail Store Operations The Northface, a VF Company. “Now, training is key to the success and failure of an organization.”

The conclusion? Amid constant shifting, new technologies, and experiential concepts, is that in order to provide an exceptional customer experience, we must ensure that we create exceptional employee experiences. Ultimately the message is clear- retail leaders must leverage communication and engagement tools so employees are equipped to deliver their best during times of disruption.

Redefining the role of store associates

As brick-and-mortar shopping evolves, so does the role of each store worker. We’re so excited to hear that retail executives are thinking about the best ways to train and staff stores, redefining roles, reskilling associates, and equipping them with the right tools. 

“We are asking store associates to do more and more over time,” said Josh Illig, VP, of Retail Operations, Brooklinen. “Training tools and resources have evolved – look at how are you empowering teams with the proper training for what you are rolling out, that they know why, and that they have the right tools and technologies so they are set up for success”

Retailers are the lime to our tequila! 

Pour one out for retail frontlines! We were honored to host a fun experience at Future Stores – a unique tequila flight tasting experience right by the show floor! We loved taking a break on Day 1 of the show to sample Blanco, Reposado, Anejo & Mezcal along with some lite bites, network with industry colleagues, and gain even more appreciation of agave spirits!  We’re definitely not salty about it! 🧂 

Featured panel discussion with our friends at Pacsun

Frontline associates are receiving recognition for their services thanks to the pandemic and the rippling effects on the labor market and the supply chain. From being on the frontlines of delivering essential products to consumers during quarantine to embracing transforming associate roles in the store, to implementing safety measures, retail employees have proven that they are integral to the business of retail.

“We sometimes forget that the magic starts with our people,” says James Ian Carter

Director of Organizational Change Management & Communications at Discount Tire. “During covid, we had to be very cognizant of safety… but we also had to think about the jobs and the positions that we put people in. We don’t want them to be robots, but we want them to be consistent. We want them to execute best practices, but we want them to be problem solves…. We have to make sure we’re making it as easy as possible for them to execute on the things we are asking them to do. If we don’t do that, we have challenges around retention and engagement. And if we do do that, we have success around customer engagement and experience.”

At Zipline, we couldn’t agree more. Retail frontline teams work tirelessly. It’s up to leaders to give them a tool that empowers them to do their most efficient (and satisfying) work. With a tool like Zipline, retail workers operate in a more informed and effective way: they feel more connected to the brand’s mission, understand what’s expected of them, and are more successful in their jobs. In turn, brands achieve greater business success and fulfill their vision for both customers and employees.

It’s no secret that the key to happy customers is happy employees. The data shows us time and time again that engaged employees boost shopper loyalty and customer satisfaction, resulting in increased store execution and company sales.

For Pacsun, they leverage Zipline to do just that. “As much as the associates are selling to customers, we have to sell to our associates, just to get them in the door,” says  Joel Quill, VP of Retail at Pacsun. “Make them a part of your mission, your culture, where you’re going, what your total vision is… Let them make decisions. Give them parameters, but they’re business owners. They are your key customers. They love the product, they love the brand, and they love the people they work with. They will make the right decisions, often better than we could have delivered down from corporate.”

 Especially after years of business amidst a panic, the retail industry is investing more than ever in people, the most important asset that they have in stores. After all, it isn’t tech that is the key to retail success- it’s people. Investing in those people, by providing tools that empower them, means increasing execution, accelerating creative solutions, and unlocking feedback loops so that great ideas can get amplified. 

“We’ve been able to hone into the creativity of our associates… we’re learning from them,” says Joel. 

If you missed our panel session (or want to relive it all over again), tune into the conversation we had about how humans are the ❤️ of retail. The discussion featured retail leaders from Pacsun, Zipline Discount Tire, Outdoor Voices, and Legion Technologies.

At Zipline, we love having conversations with industry trailblazers like you who are excited to streamline store communications and task management.

Ready to streamline your store communications, engage and enable your store teams, and retool your retail? We’ve made our solution easy to implement, fun to use, and useful for stores and HQ alike. We’d love to give you a deeper look.  Let’s keep the conversation going! 

Let’s connect!

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