Published on in RetailInnovation

Productivity has always been a high priority for retailers, but it’s more overtly so now than ever before.

It’s such a vital part of how you keep yourself competitive, and it’s really interesting to see how productivity varies from business to business.

John Lewis recently created a new board position dedicated to owning this issue across the group – underlining why this is such a priority for retailers this year.

It sends a clear message about the challenges in the sector today – winning sales is just one part of the battle. John Lewis, often considered to be a step ahead on emerging trends, could well have fired the starting pistol on something much bigger.

We partnered with Retail Week last month to speak to some of the key decision-makers from the country’s biggest brands. We wanted to discuss the big question of productivity, how retailers are approaching it, and how technology is enabling new best practice to emerge. Here’s what we learned…

Protecting the bottom line

The feedback from retailers at the roundtable was clear – shoppers have gained the upper hand as a result of the massive success of online.

Huge choice, and wavering brand loyalty, has led to big discounting. It’s handed shoppers more power while also squeezing margins. This means efficiencies have to be found if that bottom line is to be maintained.

But the rise of technology on one side has also given retailers new opportunities to claw some initiative back.

For instance, the capability for staff to know so much about the shopper when they come through the door means retailers can do more to influence the purchasing funnel. It’s also about putting customer experience at the heart of everything.

Digital has meant by making the customer journey more personalised, it can be used as a way of improving their experience, and overall customer retention.

That personalised connection is no longer about the person that’s been working in a store for years, it’s about the technology you have and the information you have, and of course there’s also a question about the amount of data you have on people.

If it’s done in the right way then people will be happy with it and you will have a lot of power at your disposal.

The productivity saving can also be beneficial as it allows retailers to maximise what they get out of their staff. It means if a retailer is investing too many hours in paying for staff, but not getting the value desired, some of that loss is clawed back by making them more productive.

The question of how you use your resources in the best way you can and get rid of inefficiencies in your business is definitely being answered by technology.

However, there is a balance to be struck. For me, it’s all about a good connection between people. What is less clear is where retailers should draw the line, and what shoppers will put up with – and that’s a debate that will rumble on.

Find out more about Fujitsu’s Connected Retail here, and follow us on LinkedIn.

Image credit: Glenn Scott

Rupal Karia

Rupal Karia

Head of Commercial Sector at Fujitsu at Fujitsu UK&I
Rupal heads Fujitsu’s Commercial Sector encompassing Retail, Hospitality, Manufacturing, Utilities, Telecoms and Services; a business with a large number of household brands as clients.
Rupal Karia

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