How To Succeed In Retail Business
When last have you heard of trusted employees who betrayed their employers trust? Here are three of the more common instances.
(One) A former Marks & Spencer department Section Manager based at the Trafford Centre, received an eight month suspended sentence and 240 hours of community service for stealing 6,700 from the stores POS terminals between July and August 2009.
(Two) In September 2009 a Tesco checkout assistant in line for promotion as the face of Tesco, turned out to be an illegal immigrant.
A major high street retailer in Manchester contacted police in connection with a warehouse worker who was suspected of stealing DVDs. A subsequent Police search of the employees residence exposed what was described as another warehouse full of goods. This was a trusted employee with over four years continuous service.
So what do these cases have in common? They highlight the fact that these retailers had failed to establish or follow standard operating procedures.
In this article I will attempt to outline the main factors that are responsible for the demise of a majority of retail organizations. I will also offer a number of best practice strategies that can be utilised by any organization.
Our research has identified four root causes of the demise of any retail venture,
The lack of robust policies
The creation of good policies and ensuring their compliance is vital for the success of all retail businesses, and especially large national & international retail brands. The flip side of this is that when there are strong operational standards and best practices built in success comes that little bit closer. However, having a good policy on its own does not automatically guarantee success. What is required? A simple answer is nothing short of robust checks and balances that are aimed at ensuring compliance.
There are numerous factors responsible for the success of a retail organization. Here are the three I have singled out as most relevant:
(a) Smart buying
(b) Strong sales
(c) Shrinkage reduction.
However, the implementation of these strategies is sometimes dependent on external circumstance. For example, smart buying is dependent on suppliers, the availability of merchandise, the supply chain, currency exchange and to an extent the mood of the Chinese leadership. Like smart buying, strong sales/turnover depends on the economy, fashion trends and so on. Shrinkage is the only factor that is within the control of the retailer.
Every retailer in the UK loses on average 2.5% of their turnover to shrinkage, which is a considerable amount in an industry particularly when margins are sliding.
Shrinkage occurrence can take many forms: shoplifting being the most prominent. However, internal activities in retail organizations, themselves cause more shrinkage than shoplifting. Cashier theft or error, accounts for 32% of retail shrinkage, general employees 24%, receiving 10%, errors and damage 13% while shoplifting accounts for only 21%.
I recently asked a number of retail employees if they have received shrinkage awareness training. The response that I received from all of them was shrinkage, “what is shrinkage?” Given the importance of shrinkage to the success or failure of any retail organization, one would expect it to be a buzzword in retail circles.
For the benefit of those and others like them, shrinkage is simply the difference between the value of goods received and the amount received for those same goods at the point of sale. Now the question of how does merchandise lose value from the time of delivery to the time of sale is at the heart of the success or failure of many retail organizations; it all boils down to good operational standards and best practices.
The employment of an illegal immigrant would have cost Tesco 5,000. Marks and Spencer nearly lost 7,000 though it managed to recover a bulk of it from the offender, it will take time to recover the legal fees and the damage the incident caused to its reputation, considering the fact that this individual had already been cautioned for dishonesty by another retail employer will not help.
Poor adherence to recruitment and selection procedures allowed this individual to gain employment. Had accurate reference checks been carried out, a trail might have taken them back to the previous employer. What retail jargon views as unnecessary expenditure is in truth and in fact, a factor in what is considered shrinkage. I should also note here that the other big retailer might not recover a single penny from the warehouse employee. So then it behooves each retailer to ask the question”what will an additional 2.5% of profit do for my organisations balance sheet”?
To succeed, in addition to smart buying and increasing sales retailers must focus on shrinkage management and reduction. This is a truly controllable cost. Robust policies & measurable operational standards will also ensure success.