Whether open concept, cubicles or offices, coworkers are typically a few steps away from each other. It reminds us of how inter-connected we are and that:
“Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.”
– Steve Jobs
2020 has thrown a wrench into the collaboration mix and most knowledge workers in retail organizations have been forced to work remotely due to social distancing recommendations regarding the Coronavirus pandemic. There are benefits and drawbacks to this situation, but one thing is clear: organizations must have tools that facilitate collaboration, because that’s one thing that will never change. The need for people to connect and solve problems together will always remain a constant.
Before we get into how teams can collaborate better during this time and going forward, let’s take a look at how workers view collaboration tools:
Courtesy: Dimensional Research
“In the Midst of Chaos, There is also Opportunity” (Internal Collaboration)
This quote is attributed to Sun Tzu, the legendary Chinese general, military strategist, writer and philosopher. It highlights how just because brick-and-mortar stores have been closed temporarily, it doesn’t mean that merchandising, marketing, planning, pricing, analytics and a host of other teams can’t work together to keep retail organizations afloat. On the contrary, it may be an opportunity to strengthen their bonds and help everyone get through those trying times on a professional and personal level.
In many organizations, teams operate independently and use analytics tools specific to their functions and/or department goals. That can be extremely detrimental to the company as a whole.
Often, this is the result of housing data in several systems, creating a skewed view of a retail business depending who is looking at the data found therein. While this is a problem for teams when they are in the office, the issue is amplified when they are separated physically and cannot interact as smoothly as usual.
ActiveViam for Pricing offers a way to solve this issue efficiently. Its aggregation engine is flexible enough to integrate data from a multitude of sources and to filter and slice-and-dice is any which way is relevant to business so that every department has their own view but all work with the same data. It offers a “single point of truth” that makes it much easier to spot and reconcile any inconsistencies or divergence of interpretation. Furthermore, users can share views and bookmarks easily to steer the business forward together.
Real-time analytics and data visualization allow teams to shift focus from channel to channel (primarily e-commerce currently), monitor inventory, plan promotions and test various pricing strategies before implementing them so they can make better, more informed decisions. Even if those decisions are being made from a running train or a dining room table.
“We Rise by Lifting Others” (External Collaboration)
American writer Robert Ingersoll coined this phrase, reminding us that we cannot only focus on the bubble we are in. This holds true for teams within an organization. While it is important for internal teams to collaborate, you cannot forget two very important groups outside of your organization – your suppliers and your customers.
Due to social distancing, retail organizations need to convince customers to purchase products that they cannot touch. The best way to do this is through a collaboration with your suppliers, remembering that it needs to be a two-way street in times like these. By working with suppliers to understand how to best communicate the experience that the product/brand will give the customer, it will be easier for retailers to close sales. On the flip side, using data analytics tools to slice and dice your data to create easy-to-understand visualizations of what is selling and what isn’t can be a huge benefit when shared with suppliers to fine tune inventory shipments that result in a win-win situation for everyone.
Last but certainly not least, it’s important to keep in mind that your customers matter the most to your business. Like any good relationship, communication is key, especially in our current state of collective concern, where people need connections more than ever. Talk with them every chance you get via social media, email, apps, etc. to understand what they want and how they want to receive it. Trust their feedback and make sure you overdeliver. In addition to that, you can leverage data science and a tool like atoti to better understand your customers, for instance by identifying what items are driving customers to the stores and which ones are purchased as “complements”. The more you consider every aspect of your customers’ journey, the more loyal they will be to your brand.