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Is the right data reaching your store managers?

Make sure your front-line managers have the info they need to make more confident and effective decisions

What makes a winner?

Earlier this summer, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) announced its annual Store Manager Awards, which recognize grocery managers for their work in store operations, leadership, and community involvement. One of the finalists, Doug Malenoski, Manager of a King Soopers (a division of The Kroger Co.) in Littleton, Colorado, said that what was critical to him was “communication and the sharing of key data, results and success.”

Data, he said, is what empowers his team to offer creative suggestions and solve problems on the floor.

Malenoski has it exactly right.

Customer data and insights should be shared across the organization to ensure grocer success, and that means not overlooking store managers. Informing store managers with insights from store-level customer data — including the pricing, assortment and promotion decisions based on customer data — is what allows front-line managers to be more confident and effective in their decision-making.

Take assortment, for example. In today’s environment, retailers are driving towards efficient and differentiated assortments with head-office decisions. Enabling store managers to identify which categories have local needs —and, from there, which items are most important, unique, and differentiated to their customers — can enable a manageable level of localized assortment while still meeting corporate goals. Customer data is what allows managers at the store level to better understand and accept corporate decisions while making better decisions themselves.

Whether we’re talking about a small, individually-owned grocery store or one that is part of a larger chain, managing a grocery store successfully involves considerable responsibility. Grocery store managers must ensure that the store operations run smoothly, that items are stocked and priced competitively, and that customers are satisfied. Incorporating data insights maximizes the chances of success.

But it’s one thing to say that store-level customer insights should be shared, and another to know how to do it.

The challenge is to make sense of the avalanche of information. Store managers have to handle insights coming from many disparate systems, including any number of the following:

  • Delivery and inventory systems, such as direct store delivery systems, order entry/inventory management systems, shelf space management systems, and item price verification tools.

  • In-store display systems, such as shelf tags/sign systems, electronic kiosks, and electronic shelf labels.

  • Checkout systems, such as POS checkout systems and self-checkout systems.

  • Finance systems, such as cash management systems, loss prevention auditing systems, and financial forecasting systems.

To truly take advantage of the benefits of sharing store-level customer insights across an organization, companies need to focus on data and insights system integration. Understanding data enough to make it actionable is what makes the store environment more profitable.

Once an integrated system is in place, an organization is ready to provide one convenient point of access to store managers.

Stores could even take a lesson from Supervalu, which in 2012 handed out to its store directors 2,200 iPads that were loaded with productivity tools they could access right on the store floor.

Grocery industry veterans know that focusing on best customers is key to successful growth. Leading grocers are already thinking about how best to integrate systems data and insights and how best to share those data and insights with front-line managers.

Bottom line: It’s fast becoming table stakes to gather and process data. What will separate the winners from the rest of the pack is how well that data gets into the hands of the people who most need it.

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