The retail sector is one of the biggest employers in the USA. It’s estimated by the National Retail Federation that around 29 million people work in this sector. In many retail organizations, there are hundreds, if not thousands of employees… which can be challenging for management to ensure all staff are kept up-to-date with important information.
Some major retailers employ their staff directly, through a traditional hierarchical structure with store managers and regional managers acting as a conduit between corporate headquarters and employees on the ground. Other retailers operate franchise models, where an independent owner of a store pays fees to operate an outlet of the brand, and is responsible for employing their own people. In both of these cases, communications between management from corporate headquarters and the front-line employees will generally rely on someone in the middle delivering information… and many times, this is just not reliable.
Good communication is important to enable your front-line people to properly represent your brand, increase sales, display knowledge of products and promotions, and to deliver a consistent experience to your customers.
How DeskAlerts can help improve employee communications in the retail sector
DeskAlerts is an internal communication software system that is designed to capture the attention of employees and ensure that important information is sent and received on time, every time.
The system works by sending different types of content to computer screens, such as pop-up notifications, scrolling desktop tickers, corporate screensavers and wallpapers, video messages and more.
Content that is highly visual helps to spark interest, and is better remembered. The content is also interactive which encourages a response from employees - making it much more effective than email.
There is also an app available for both Apple and Android devices, enabling you to send push notifications to employees who are not using a computer as part of your retail communication process.
Common retail internal communications challenges that DeskAlerts can solve
While every organization has its own unique challenges, there are many in store communication ones faced by retail companies all over the world.
The many functions and tools that come with DeskAlerts can help retailers to overcome all of these examples of retail communication challenges:
1. Strengthening the brand from the inside
Your company has invested lots of time and money developing its corporate brand. Part of the brand identity is the experience that customers can expect when they visit your stores. Unfortunately, the way that many retail organizations operate means that different stores become information silos, which leads to an inconsistent experience for customers depending on which store they visit.
When employees don’t understand the brand or feel connected to it, they aren’t as loyal to the company. This means that they may not want to continue working for your organization - and that has costs associated with rehiring. Additionally they may not be acting in a way that aligns with the company mission, goals and values, or properly understand the products that are being sold. And this can influence their communications with customers.
Solution: DeskAlerts tools such as screensavers, wallpapers and lockscreens can be deployed to computer screens in your retail stores.
You can be creative and use your corporate colors, logo and quotes from your company mission so that employees think of them and consider how to apply them every time they look at the computer screen.
There’s a lot of information that needs to flow from corporate headquarters to employees on the front line. Whether its corporate news, announcements, information about events, upcoming sales, price changes, new product releases or letting people know about metrics and sales targets, retailers often struggle ensuring that their customer facing team members have all the information they need.
Solution: Send pop-ups, desktop tickers and mobile notifications via DeskAlerts.
The pop-ups allow you to send breaking and important news to employees in a way can’t be closed before it has been read. Scrolling tickers constantly update on computer screens and are designed to catch peoples’ eyes and share a variety of different types of news.
3. Support sales and marketing campaigns
Your marketing department spends a lot of time and money developing campaigns for your brand. This might be overall advertising and branding, and sometimes it can include promoting particular products or sales events. Unfortunately if employees on the front line don’t know about or understand the sales and marketing campaigns, it can reflect poorly on the organization when customers ask about it. Not only that, but they will not be promoting special offers and driving further sales.
Solution: The DeskAlerts system enhances communications from the central office, ensuring that frontline staff in remote stores and branches are always aware of current deals and offers so they can present them to customers.
Use desktop tickers, screensavers, wallpapers and lockscreens to send communication from retail management such as reminders to employees about your company’s new offers, discounts, terms and so on.
For example, you can use a banner from a sales promotional campaign as a corporate screensaver to remind staff in your stories about the campaign. An added bonus is that any customers who may see the screen will also receive the information.
4. Assisting with resource management
When things are hectic in your stores, you may find that they run out of inventory and other resources very quickly. Whether it's stock, packaging, promotional material, cleaning supplies and other important items, corporate offices may not know if individual stores are adequately equipped. Some stores may run out of things frequently while others may always have a good supply.
Solution: DeskAlerts enables you to survey employees by sending questionnaires to geographically targeted locations to find out what sorts of resources they may need or are running low on. Like other DeskAlerts channels, the surveys are sent in a highly invasive way.
You can choose a design that differentiates your surveys from other pop-up alerts to ensure employees understand instantly that you need them to answer.
5. Informing stores about IT issues and emergencies
IT and other system outages are a headache for any organization, whether they are affecting all or just part of your network. Your help desk employees can probably tell you that outages often generate many, many calls from different stores asking the same questions. When systems go down you need a quick and easy way to let employees know and give them an estimated time of restoration.
It’s also important to have a good system in place to quickly inform employees about emergency situations that could affect them (inclement weather, natural disasters, civil unrest, active shooters and so on) as well as any other incidents that can affect service delivery or employee safety.
Solution: DeskAlerts tools such as pop-ups, mobile push notifications and the scrolling ticker will let you quickly reach employees to inform them of outages, incidents and emergencies.
Use the Active Directory integration feature to send notifications only to those affected: for example if there’s a hurricane that will affect stores in one area, send your relevant messages to those stores only. If there’s a critical system that is down that affects the entire company, send the notifications to everyone.
6. Reinforcing health and safety rules
There are many rules that retailers need their employees to follow to ensure they are safe, the company’s assets are safe and that customers are safe.
This can include cyber security and store security protocols, as well as health requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic such as implementing social distancing, face mask policies and hygiene.
Solution: Use tools such as screensavers, wallpapers, lock screens and pop-ups.
Corporate lockscreens, for example, can remind your staff about different measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID.
7. Training your staff
Inconsistent corporate training can be a problem for many large retailers, especially when it is usually left up to local management.
Corporate headquarters staff may assume that the front-line staff have the knowledge and support that they need, but don’t have an accurate picture of what is happening in reality.
Solution: Use DeskAlerts to help deliver training information via pop-up and mobile notifications, video messages. You can also use it to reinforce training via pop-up reminders and scrolling tickers, and by quizzing employees.
Quizzes enable you to monitor knowledge levels so you can be sure that service delivery is a priority. Where there are gaps in knowledge you can tailor solutions to make improvements.
Send hints and tips to help drive continuous improvement in your team, such as handling difficult customers or suggestions on increasing sales, via the scrolling ticker.
8. Gathering feedback
Retail employee communication isn’t just about managers telling employees information: it is a two way street. Your employees have direct contact with your customer base each and every day. They are often the first to learn if a customer is unhappy - or if they are loving a product or service that they purchase from you.
Employees are also a valuable source of information on how managers are performing and what morale is like among their colleagues.
Solution: Sending surveys makes it easy for you to gather valuable feedback. Views from employees as well as what they are hearing from customers on the ground, which can then help to inform corporate strategy.
You can send surveys on virtually any topic, for example when employees return from vacation you can survey them to determine if they are healthy.
9. Reaching people no matter where or when they work
Communicating with a lot of people at once can be tricky, especially when they work across multiple locations. In retail you have a mix of employees who work full time and part time, and may do shifts at different times of the day or week. In many stores, not everyone will be together at the same time to attend regular team meetings.
Solution: DeskAlerts can ensure you reach employees no matter where their store is located, or when they are rostered on to work. You can schedule notifications in advance to send to different teams, or use push notifications to communicate with employees even if they are on a day off.
10. Creating a unified team
Corporate culture is one of the most attractive features for employees when looking for a new job. However, employees working across different geographic locations may not feel as though they are connected to, and are part of, the wider team of your organization.
Solution: Send pulse surveys to find out if team members are feeling engaged and connected to the wider team. Use corporate wallpapers and screensavers to send inspirational messages reminding employees about the benefits of teamwork and, specifically, your corporate team.
How one of our retail clients uses DeskAlerts to improve in-store communication
Our client, Fujifilm Australia, has a large network of in-store printing labs with retail sales in different locations around Australia and New Zealand.
They use DeskAlerts to notify these different outlets about upcoming features, updates and issues.
They needed a retail communication software system featuring a desktop notification tool that could be branded, as well as being easy to use and centrally managed. They found that DeskAlerts ticked all the boxes! Read the case study.