In a time where brand advocacy and employee engagement are essential for business success, retailers, especially, are plagued by communication challenges. Communications in major retail organizations are typically top-down — with a big gap between the executive team and brick-and-mortar store managers and associates. And that gap is where critical information and brilliant initiatives go to die.
The role of a modern store comms team is to make sure that doesn’t happen. And they do it by getting the right information to the right people at the right time.
Picture this: A major retailer has to execute a manufacturer recall that affects thousands of a particular product across its 400 locations. It’s up to the retail communications team to get the word out to store managers and associates quickly, so they can get the recalled product off the shelves. But simply pressing “Send” isn’t enough; store employees have to see the message, read it, understand its content, and then act on it.
If that process breaks down at any point, stores won’t complete the recall, putting customers in danger and the retailer at risk for fines. So what does it take to keep that from happening?
It goes without saying that great communications teams are composed of great communicators. It takes skill and talent to take the big picture from the C-suite and transmit that message in a way that’s easy to understand. Beyond that, the members of a great communications team need the following:
This list is part talent, part experience, and part tools, but it adds up to a recipe for success.
While the roles and responsibilities of a retail communications team haven’t changed much over time, the pace and complexity of the business world have increased steadily, and there is more competition in the retail space than ever before — especially when you consider the disruptive effects of online retailers. That’s why it’s so important for communications teams to have a coordinated approach to message development and delivery.
Thankfully, developing an effective store communications process isn’t as hard as it sounds. Follow this guide to build a strong team that will help your organization keep up with both competitors and a constantly changing business environment.
A well-defined protocol can offer much-needed visibility into how messages are created, approved, and distributed. It can also help you avoid common pitfalls like conflicting or overlapping messages from different departments, as well as communication overload in the stores.
After establishing the ‘how’ in your communications protocol, the next step is to determine who is responsible for which tasks. Having well-defined responsibilities offers a clear picture of task ownership, better accountability, and a straightforward approval process. Here are some questions to consider as you’re determining which responsibilities fall to whom:
Having a strong communications strategy and clear responsibilities is critical, but if your team isn’t able to execute on that strategy, then all your careful planning was for naught. Tools like Retail Zipline can help make your communications strategy a reality and ensure everything is streamlined and everyone is in the loop.
Consider the following use case:
Brandon Panepinto, Senior Product Manager at Gap Inc, spoke about communication challenges at NRF 2018. In 2015, only 25-30% of Gap’s next-day tasks were carried out on time. But after implementing Retail Zipline, that number has climbed to over 90%. HQ has confidence that directives are being heard and implemented, and store managers and associates feel informed.
A strong retail communications strategy is within reach, no matter how your organization is structured. Let Retail Zipline help you accomplish your goals: Request a demo today.
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