Author: Poornima Mohandas
Time to read: 2 minutes
How often do you change your Visual Merchandising (VM)? If you are an apparel or footwear brand, chances are you change it once a week or at least once a fortnight to keep those walk-ins coming. How do you manage and monitor if the window displays, wall panels, and centre tables are well arranged in keeping with your guidelines? When you have 10 stores this might be easy to do. But when you have 500+ stores, it becomes physically impossible to travel to all stores and ensure that they have a consistent look and feel, especially given the speed of new product launches and seasonal offers. Your VM team may travel to the stores in tier I cities, but what about your tier II and tier III stores?
Most retailers now manage this process through a series of emails, PowerPoint presentations, and Whatsapp messages, which means:
- A lot of back and forth to gather store-level information
- Plenty of manual effort to compile the pictures for management review
- At least 2 man-days to conduct the review if you have >50 stores
- Vulnerable to fraud and errors
- Little to no reporting on trends and non-compliance
Here are some tips to speed up and streamline your Visual Merchandising changes:
1. Share Your VM Guidelines Through a Secure App
When you send your guidelines out over email, you get little visibility on whether your staff saw it, understood it, and acted on it. Moreover, when you operate on email there is little control over it, an employee who leaves your company can easily take your planograms and give it to the competition across the street. Through an operations app, you can safely share your VM guidelines with all your 500 stores instantaneously. A dedicated operations app will allow you to:
- Keep your data safe
- Track how many employees consumed the guidelines
- Run a quiz to see if employees understood the guidelines
- Cut off access when an employee leaves your organization
2. Make Your Visual Merchandising Audits Fraud-proof
Do you ever wonder if your store staff are sending you dated pictures or pictures from a neighbouring store? Firstly, how will you know? Secondly, how will you curb such behaviour when operating on email and Whatsapp? Consumer messaging apps cannot give you the kind of structure and tracking mechanisms that you need to manage your retail store operations.
An operations app can ensure your staff can only submit live pictures and not pictures previously clicked from their phone gallery. Moreover, the pictures will be date, time, and location stamped to ensure the VM audits actually happen in your stores, giving you credible data.
3. Compare Sample Pictures Versus Actuals Side by Side
Every VM review need not be a chore wherein VM managers spend days collecting and collating pictures from all their stores to present for management review. What if you could auto-generate the PowerPoint in seconds instead of two days?
The advantages are three-fold:
- Spare your VM team lots of manual effort
- Easily compare images, samples versus actuals, side by side
- Easily spot discrepancies and take corrective action in a matter of minutes.
4. Review and Compare Scores Across Retail Stores at a Glance
Email and Whatsapp do not give you a sense of how many stores have complied with your guidelines. From a VM perspective, which are your poorly performing stores? Does it correlate to poor SSPD? An operations app with in-built reporting will allow you to easily compare VM scores across stores in a single pane of glass.
We all know that VM is directly proportional to walk-ins so don’t leave it to chance with poor and unstructured monitoring mechanisms. Email and Whatsapp cannot give you the visibility and control that you need to get your VM spot on. A mobile-enabled retail operations app will make your Visual Merchandising audits fast, secure, fraud-proof, and give you the visibility to deliver every retailer’s nirvana consistent customer experiences.