We’ve gathered 7 strategies to improve retail communications with your store teams—and ultimately, boost sales.
Why is good communication important in retail?
Store employees working on the sales floor can make or break customer interactions, and your bottom line.
Knowing that, are you giving your store teams the tools and information they need to make customers happier and deliver positive outcomes?
Businesses that get internal retail communications right are able to:
- Improve customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty
- Strengthen brand reputation
- Boost employee productivity
- Retain more engaged employees
- Increase revenue and reduce costs
- Streamline processes and increase efficiencies
What exactly is retail communication?
Retail communication refers to all internal communications between a retailer’s corporate and store teams, such as new initiatives, special offers, tasks to perform, etc.
These carefully planned and often revenue-driving ideas come from head office and are communicated to store associates for execution. Such initiatives can be communicated via internal memos, company intranet, instant messaging tools, etc.
However, stores also send back feedback and insights to head office to inform future decision-making.
Turn your retail staff into revenue-boosting brand ambassadors.
4 most common retail communications problems
The following internal retail communication problems can negatively impact productivity, employee retention, and customer satisfaction—and well as brand reputation.
1. Overburdened store managers
Retail communications still relies heavily on email. But not all front-line workers in retail have access to company email or regularly check their inbox.
This puts the responsibility of keeping store teams in the loop on the shoulders of store or regional managers, many of whom are already overburdened.
According to Gallup research, more than a third of managers report feeling burned out.
Expecting store managers to convey important internal communications to direct reports creates a few risks:
- Information shared only partially or incorrectly
- Information not shared in a timely or appropriate manner
- Information not shared at all
- Outcomes of shared information is difficult to track and measure
2. Security and privacy risks
Some overworked store managers may understandably resort to digital workspaces to share internal communications—such as creating a centralized group chat on a free messaging platform such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.
Using free tools that your organization has little or no administrative control to monitor and moderate access or sharing of content could potentially put business data at risk and compromise digital privacy, leading to liability issues if things go sideways.
3. Failed promotions
Retailers continue to push frequent sales and promotions to ease the ongoing inventory glut recently seen at many companies like Target and Abercrombie.
However, not all communication channels are equally effective at pushing the real-time updates frontline workers need.
Failing to keep retail workers up to date can lead to:
- Frustrated customers, who have to ask about discounts that retail associates on the sales floor aren’t even aware of
- Frustrated employees, who don’t feel empowered in their work
- Frustrated managers, who worry about sales targets, employee satisfaction and employee retention
- Failure to meet customer expectations, resulting in lost sales and customers
4. Disengaged employees
Keeping retail employees engaged can be an uphill battle. Store associates rarely interact directly with corporate, and most internal communications are delivered by their store manager on a need-to-know basis.
Often, these communications are limited to directives and workplace feedback.
Rarely do internal communications connect them to the company’s mission and vision in a meaningful way. The result? Retail employees feel their role is to simply follow orders and collect a paycheck—the exact opposite of employee engagement.
Effective internal communication should:
- Ensure consistent messaging
- Make every team member feel part of something meaningful
- Reinforce everyone’s shared goals
- Highlight the company’s recent wins
- Provide opportunities to show employee appreciation
- Explain how the organization is making a difference
- Explain how each employee is helping the organization make a difference
The risks of poor store communication
The impact of weak retail communications is downright costly.
1. High employee turnover
The retail business has long struggled with a high turnover of frontline workers.
Poor communication only drives employee turnover rates higher by creating a poor employee experience.
Employees who don’t feel connected to their company values are even less likely to stay with their employer.
- Employees often feel they are “in the dark” or have to hunt for the information they need to do their job
- Managers are constantly pulled away from value-building tasks to deal with employees who suddenly quit
- Businesses spend a fortune in retail onboarding of frontline staff—especially in today’s tight labor market as more and more applicants ghost retailers
2. Weak collaboration
Few front-line retail employees get to meet peers working at other store locations, leaving them feeling isolated and alienated.
For collaboration to succeed, employees need to see their role in the bigger picture.
3. Poor customer service
Consumers have widely embraced online shopping, but still crave personal interaction—especially when it makes them feel valued. Customer service nosedives when employees are ill-informed. So does the brand experience.
7 Top strategies to improve retail communication
Here are 7 tips for better communication at work.
1. Use an internal communication platform
Most people today use social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. A business messaging platform that lets workers engage directly with the company and each other in a similar way simply makes sense.
A mobile platform creates a communication network that can improve employee engagement and deliver business results.
- It creates a direct channel between frontline managers and staff to make sure everyone is on the same page with regard to brand mission and values, assigned tasks, etc.
- It creates a direct channel between frontline staff and corporate for sharing valuable insights like consumer feedback and trends.
- It lets retail staff easily access and manage their work schedules, shift swaps, and requests for time off.
- It comes with familiar user-friendly tools and enterprise-grade security features, such as access rights and data encryption to safeguard business data.
- It also eliminates the store manager as the “communication middleman,” easing their workload.
2. Let retail employees use their own device
Virtually everyone has a smartphone these days. Having a BYOD policy offers several benefits.
- It saves the organization money by not having to provide and support devices.
- Using a familiar device means workers will be more likely to adopt and use the workplace app.
- Workers only need to carry one device.
3. Empower employees with information
Retail employees should start every shift equipped to exceed customer expectations.
- Be transparent with employees about your company’s goals, products, and services.
- Make it easy for employees to quickly find answers to shopper’s questions on their mobile devices.
- Create an internal marketing plan specifically for your retail teams to keep them informed of store updates, new products, real-time inventory levels, etc.
4. Collect employee feedback and put it to use
Front-line retail employees are a goldmine of information about customer expectations. Why not tap into this in depth knowledge?
- Make it easy for retail employees to share issues, insights and other feedback via the mobile workplace app or during staff meetings.
- Use employee feedback to strengthen decision-making.
- Communicate to employees how their feedback is being used and the outcomes to increase employee engagement.
5. Continue to hold regular in-person meetings
Digital communications are a great way to share real-time information with large numbers of employees. But human interaction remains essential for a great employee experience.
Store managers should continue to hold pre-shift huddles with direct reports. They should also hold weekly or monthly one-on-one meetings with employees to ensure job satisfaction.
6. Recognize employee achievements
Recognizing employee efforts can greatly improve the retail employee experience and should be part of every corporate culture.
Employee recognition leads to better employee engagement and productivity. This always translates into a better customer experience.
See how employees and managers can send short recognition messages to one another in Agendrix.
7. Make store teams more autonomous
Autonomy promotes employee engagement. A workplace app will empower employees with information, but also let them specify shift availability, manage their work schedules, and swap shifts with coworkers.
See how you can give retail staff more control over their work schedules with Agendrix software for retail.
Successful retail communication strategy examples
Here’s how two retail companies were able to achieve better communication with employees.
Fashion brand GANT created a connected global community among its 1,600+ employees worldwide by investing in a communications network tool. Employees stay connected, share tips and engage with each other across the globe.
Pet accessory chain Animatout implemented an employee scheduling and communication management tool. Job satisfaction among front-line workers and schedulers soared.
Why is good communication important in retail?
For retail businesses, store associates must have in-depth knowledge of the company, its products and services. To provide an outstanding customer experience, they also need to embrace the brand’s image.
Effective retail store communication is essential to drive flawless store execution of the brand experience. Successful retailers with good internal communication:
- Attract more customers
- Boast greater customer loyalty
- Increase the company’s sales
One tool to manage and communicate with employees in retail
Agendrix makes open team and company-wide communication easy. It even lets managers see which employees have seen the communication. See how Agendrix can improve internal communication at your retail store.
What are some strategies to improve retail communications?
You can improve your internal retail communications strategy by: