The Small Headsets Making a Big Difference to One Food Retail Giant’s Store Efficiency

Article by Martyn Jones | 10th February 2021

Most of us recognise that today’s food retail consumers expect good service. But how many of us can confidently say we’re taking steps in our stores to deliver this?

According to research by Engage Hub, ‘65% of C-level executives rank improving customer experience as the most important overall business objective, even above net profit and revenue growth.’

Yet in 2017, only 8% of major British brands improved their CX from the previous year. As a result, the average wait time for the overwhelming majority of British consumers is now 7.7 minutes, whilst only 18% of customers are happy to spend ten minutes or more waiting to pay at a staff-assisted checkout.

65% of C-level executives rank improving customer experience as the most important overall business objective, even above net profit and revenue growth

In this marketplace, it is those businesses capable of streamlining store efficiency that will gain a competitive advantage. Recognising that internal communication is key to achieving this in the food retail environment, British multinational groceries and general merchandise retailer Tesco turned to communication software to solve these inefficiencies in all of its newly launched Jack’s branches.

Inefficiencies in the food retail environment

Inefficiencies in the food retail space can take many forms and involve multiple systems, often complicating their day-to-day management. Whether you’re planning on successfully launching a new store or you’re looking to improve efficiencies across existing branches, you may recognise some of the requirements that Tesco’s project managers sought to address:

  • Newly launched branches have flexible in-store roles where staff multiskill
  • Customer queries and the inability to quickly locate products can affect staff’s ability to move around the store quickly or change stations, such as when shifts come to a close
  • Management’s inability to locate or otherwise communicate with staff limits their ability to ‘firefight’ and respond to peaks in shopper footfall
  • Timely stock replenishment also requires that managers can coordinate teams seamlessly and with efficiency
  • Staff’s ability to respond quickly and safely in the event of an attempted theft

Adding pressure to customer expectations in the food retail sector is the number of unoccupied, closed checkouts that can typically be made available, indicating that a general lack of internal communication often outweighs customer needs.

To address this challenge and show its customers that their shopping experience comes first, Tesco implemented innovative team communication technology in the form of a headset system and supporting software capable of instantly bringing its Jack’s teams closer together — even when colleagues were the opposite sides of a store.

The small headsets making a big difference to food retail store efficiency

By providing instant conferenced wireless communication between colleagues, headset systems such as the one rolled out by Tesco across its Jack’s stores facilitate direct communication between team members who would otherwise be unable to speak with one another, transforming the way a team interacts with its members and with its shoppers.

As other food retailers looking to enable in-store efficiency will discover, such headset systems drive store efficiency in the following ways:

  • Staff can operate more flexible roles with direct lines of communication and support from colleagues with more experience or in specialist roles, facilitating the upskilling and capabilities of young teams, growing teams, or new store launches
  • When supporting customers on the shop floor, staff can more quickly locate the precise product a customer is looking for, making customer service more efficient
  • Management can quickly and efficiently locate staff who may have left their posts to help a customer or change shifts, improving their ability to coordinate their team and respond to spikes in checkout activity
  • Specialist ‘call forward’ functionality enables staff to open and close checkouts using their headsets and communicate these changes across the store via the tannoy
  • Staff’s ability to respond quickly and safely in the event of an attempted theft

In turn, customers are welcomed to newly opened checkouts, automatic tannoy announcements, and more efficient operations, resulting in a greater experience.

‘This system worked fantastically at our Jack’s stores’, Andy Newbould, Tesco, reported. ‘The headsets and “call forward” system helped our staff to work flexibly, respond to the needs of customers and their colleagues, and helped the launch of our new stores run smoothly. It was integral to the business model of our stores.’

As customer service becomes increasingly integral to attracting and retaining brick-and-mortar business, the uptake of team communication technology capable of driving store efficiency and improving the customer experience will only grow.

The applications for team communication technology delivering immediate communication channels with crystal clear audio and further specialist functions extend well beyond the store. From manufacturing and warehousing to staging, events, and other environments, companies seeking to compound efficiencies — and therefore cost-effectiveness — further down the supply chain could look to benefit significantly from such systems.

In today’s retail environment, when increasing numbers of consumers are going online for their grocery shopping, store efficiency is an integral piece in the customer experience puzzle. It is therefore vital to adapt your operations around your customers’ needs. A lightweight headset might not appear transformative, but when it comes to consistently delighting consumers through exceptional service, every little really does help.

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