The retail environment as we know it is changing, and it’s the task of operations teams and their organizations to keep up. Despite the rise of ecommerce and online shopping, a slew of recent reports indicate consumers are buying from physical stores at an increased rate. In fact, 28 percent of consumers report their in-store shopping has increased since last year.
This trend is fueling a new phenomenon dubbed “clicks to bricks,” in which previously online-only outlets, from Amazon to Glossier, are opening brick-and-mortar locations. As the race for consumer attention accelerates and the competition gets stiffer, it’s important for both new and existing retailers to ensure their physical spaces meet—or better yet, exceed—customer expectations.
One of the most effective ways to boost the shopping experience at each of your business locations is to put a robust quality assurance (QA) plan in place. Whether you outsource your facilities management (FM) activities to a third party or handle them in-house, part of your FM program should include quality checks.
For brands just starting down this path, it’s helpful to establish your goals first so you know what to measure. Ask the following questions of your organization:
- Who will perform QA checks, and what services should they prioritize?
- How often will spot checks and routine QA be conducted?
- How will performance be measured (data source, benchmark, etc.)?
- What does success look like?
- What are the consequences of failing to meet QA standards?
The answers to many of these questions will largely rely on factors such as the number of stores you operate, the area you cover and what resources you can afford to dedicate to routine QA.
A successful QA initiative should provide you with updates on facility conditions and the status of contractor services. Determining what “success” means to your brand is half the battle. By establishing benchmarks and putting processes in place to achieve them, you’ll give your QA process structure and scalability.
If you’re handling QA internally, be sure to train your district managers, store managers and other key personnel on how to audit services performed by your service providers and contractors. For larger chains with multiple locations, or for stores that lack the time and resources needed for these activities, an FM business advisor can handle these tasks for you. This will free your staff of the tactical burdens of QA so they can focus on the customer and the store’s top line. Outsourcing this work to an FM provider with a dedicated QA team will help you protect your brand image, too, as these QA professionals are empowered to request recalls on work that wasn’t performed properly—at no additional cost. Be sure to seek out an FM partner who prioritizes quality and who will act on your behalf to safeguard your brand and all that it stands for.
Enhancing the Shopping Experience
From the moment a customer enters your store, they are evaluating your brand. When quality and cleanliness expectations are met, shoppers are more likely to remain loyal to your company and return to make future purchases. However, when the quality of your space slips—perhaps you haven’t gotten around to replacing broken light bulbs, your floors haven’t been stripped and/or cleaned frequently enough, or your restrooms are dirty—they will remember these details, too.
Customers tend to equate the quality of a brand’s physical space with the quality of the products or services they offer, making it critical to stay on top of QA measures across your facilities to ensure a positive customer experience.