A new study conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Zipline surveyed 356 retailers in the U.S. and Canada to find out whether comms is being disrupted as the industry undergoes transformation.
We’re bringing you the results of our first-ever industry benchmark report for Store Communications teams in a special three-part webinar series.
You’ll be the first to see the results of our survey and learn about the teams, tools, and tactics today’s retailers are using to keep their stores informed.
Plus! We’re tapping into the Zipline Store Comms Community to dive into best-in-class examples that will take your own store communication strategy to the next level.
Pick whichever session below suits your interests, or better yet – watch the whole series!
A look at retailers’ store comms team size, structure, and career paths.
Learn about message cadences, gatekeeping strategies, and more.
How many channels is too many? We look at the data to find out.
Store closures. Furloughs. Dark stores. BOPIS. Curbside. The Great Resignation.
2021 saw so many shifting trends and priorities, and left many retail organizations reeling.
In the midst of it all, we learned what separates thriving retail brands from those that falter. We know that today’s successful retailers fully embrace change. They constantly experiment to find the best path forward and then follow-up quickly with other good ideas.
Like Darwin said, it’s not the smartest that survive — it’s the ones that adapt the quickest. And the key to adaptation is communication.
That’s why we created the Zipline State of Store Comms report: to establish an industry benchmark for an historically overlooked and underserved section of the retail organization. We want to inspire executives and communications professionals to reconsider the way they are currently communicating to stores and check their assumptions around “status quo” communications methods.
This report reveals that 85 percent of retailers have invested in the headcount and tools necessary to support a full-time, dedicated store communications team — most of them made up of two or more individuals. But how are retailers measuring the impact of these investments? Almost half still rely on anecdotal evidence via in-person store visits and opinion surveys.
From a tactical perspective, more than half of retailers surveyed do not maintain a workload planning calendar to map out communications in advance — even though retailers that do are over 15 times more likely to feel communication their stores receive from HQ is “always accurate.”
Perhaps most concerning is the fact that “comms channel overload” still plagues the industry. More than half of the retailers we surveyed use four or more channels for Store Communications. Some use as many as 12. Retailers that don’t consolidate platforms risk disseminating conflicting information, confusing teams, and slowing the business.
Our hope is that retail leaders can use data like this to look within and make the most of the incredible talent, ideas, and technologies already within their organization. By learning how to communicate with their stores more effectively, leaders can truly tap into the full potential of their field teams.
Companies that have access to auto-generated readership + task execution metrics are 6.5 times more likely to feel their field teams understand exactly where to go to get the information they need to do their jobs
Companies that do not measure the effectiveness of their store/location communications were 11 times more likely to feel their field teams did not read all of the communication sent to them
Organizations using a workload planning calendar were over 15 times more likely to feel communication stores/locations received from HQ is always accurate.
Companies with a well structured publishing cadence were 2.5 times more likely to have employees read communications from HQ
Of companies that do not target specific audiences with their communications only 5.13% believe their field teams understand exactly where to go to get the information they need to do their jobs.
Companies that use 5 or more channels are 11 and a half times more likely to believe their employees do not understand exactly where to go to get the information they need to do their jobs
98.8% of Zipline customers polled agree that the communication stores/locations receive from HQ is clear and concise.
Individual Contributor 33
Manager/Sr. Manager 181
Human Resources 50
Learning and Development 17
Store/Retail Operations 113
The average person might have trouble understanding what “store comms” actually is. After all, not everybody has worked in a retail job where they’ve been on the receiving end of messaging from HQ. Unless you’ve managed a store, or worked on the store support side of a major retailer at corporate, you probably aren’t aware of the specific nuances of this field of internal communications. In a word, it’s “niche.”
But Store Communication is incredibly important. Every day, there are dozens (maybe hundreds) of decisions being made at a retailer’s corporate headquarters: which product to buy, and how much. Which promotion to run, how to advertise it, how to measure its effectiveness. There are teams deciding whether or not it makes financial sense to switch to a different receipt paper vendor. There are teams working around the clock to figure out if pricing a pair of socks at $4.99 instead of $4.95 is actually a good idea.
Every single one of these decisions impacts that retailer’s stores. When one of these decisions is made, stores need to know about it.
Most companies understand that a headcount investment is necessary in order to manage communications effectively.
Despite the fact that little is understood about Store Communications outside of the retail industry, the vast majority of retail organizations do have a person, or a small team, responsible for wrangling all the messaging that headquarters teams need to get to the field.
This is an encouraging sign, as making the case for increased store comms resources or budget is undoubtedly easier if an organization acknowledges that it’s a full-time job.
Within the 85% of respondents who have a dedicated store comms team, the size of that team varies:
While it’s clear that companies believe successful Store Communication requires a dedicated team, where to put that team still remains a bit of a conundrum. Store Operations is the most popular pick, but Corporate Communications is also a relatively common choice.
Store Operations teams are traditionally accountable for any business processes and initiatives that keep a retailer’s brick-and-mortar fleet running smoothly — and that’s a broad scope of responsibility. Everything from visual merchandising to loss prevention to back-of-house technologies to sales training likely falls under the remit of Store Operations. Store Operations teams usually manage the store labor budget, which is a significant portion of a retail organization’s P&L.