Why Large-Format Stores & DCs Need a Mobile Employee Communication Solution

To boost customer satisfaction and employee engagement, retailers with large footprints need to invest in a device-agnostic platform.

June 17, 2022

How many square city blocks does it take to make a Walmart? How many football fields equal the size of an Ikea? More than you might think. 

Though small-format stores are certainly in vogue (Kohls, Macy’s, and Target are just a few of the recognizable names “going small to grow big”) large-format retailers continue to see success with massive stores – many of them more than 200,000 square feet in size.

(And for the record, that’s two Manhattan city blocks for the largest Walmart stores; five football fields for your average Ikea). 

But with great square footage comes great challenges, especially when you’re thinking about employee communication. A behemoth store footprint comes with a laundry list of complexities you wouldn’t typically find at your neighborhood mom & pop shop. That’s why large-format stores need a truly mobile communication solution.

Gone are the days of “check in the back”

Product questions, price inquiries, requests to “check in the back” – today’s customers come to stores expecting attentive service, and if they don’t get it they likely won’t come back. Dealing with shopper questions is difficult enough in small stores, but when “checking in the back” requires a light jog down the length of a football field, it becomes nearly impossible.

For years, large-format stores have relied on walkie-talkies to replay questions to fellow stockroom associates in real time, but this type of communication is fraught with potential pitfalls. Besides reception issues and annoying delays, this tactic assumes somebody in the back is even available at all to answer at a moments’ notice. (If you haven’t noticed, staffing is a really big issue these days).

Some retailers have employed point solution apps via dedicated mobile devices. Mobile POS devices, for instance, have become increasingly common in large-format stores. But all too often these devices only accomplish one or two isolated jobs – they ring up transactions, print receipts, or perform inventory lookups – forcing frontline associates to rely on other methods to receive communication from corporate or quickly chat with a colleague in another department.

The best solution? Give your frontline employees a mobile communication solution that’s device agnostic, so they can pull up information in the palm of their hand – no matter what they’re using.

Mobile communication builds frontline employee confidence

When team members can self-serve in a matter of seconds, they’re able to more quickly and confidently answer customer questions – all without leaving the sales floor.  Everybody wins: The customer has a better experience, the associate feels more confident, and your business makes more money.

Suzanne Kiggin, Head of Operations & Customer Care at American Signature, Inc., puts it thusly: “Because of Zipline, [our employees] can tell customers what pieces are coming in the next weeks or months, and even pull up pictures and product information to show them right there on the sales floor. They’re taking control of their business.”

American Signature, Inc. is also deploying Zipline in their distribution centers, where employees are always on the move. In an environment where every team members’ steps count, preventing employees from running back and forth to the office to access important training documents and directives saves time and money.

But the benefits of mobile don’t stop there. Pulling up product and inventory information is one thing, but what about company information or employee-facing news about job opportunities, benefits, or perks? 

Too often, this type of internal communication is siloed in a store’s back room, relegated to a poster on the wall or tucked away in an intranet nobody visits. If you work in a massive store, you’re likely only stepping in the back to clock in and out.

When employees have access to company information on a mobile device, they’re more likely to read it (and act on it!). “Zipline’s mobile platform is a game-changer,” says Meghan Soat, Retail Communication Manager at The Fresh Market. “More of our team members are connected and receiving comms, because we now bring the comms to their fingertips.”

When company messages reach every single employee on a regular basis, these employees are able to feel more connected to their colleagues and their brand. They understand why their job matters, and feel a sense of pride in their work. 

Is your communication platform truly mobile?

If you’re a large-format retailer, it’s time to take a hard look at your internal communication.

Are tasks, daily checklists, company announcements, and messages from leadership all accessible in the palm of your employees’ hands? Are your stores’ handheld devices equipped to relay this information, or do your team members still need to keep “checking in the back?”

Zipline is a truly mobile platform that brings all of your teams’ tasks, messages, resources, and insights together in one place, no matter what brand of mobile device you use in stores. 

If you’re a large-format retailer looking to boost efficiency and employee engagement via a mobile solution, reach out today

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