For grocery and mass retail chains that face tough online competition and upstart specialists—and whose performance is lagging accordingly—success starts with a store-led approach. Too many retailers still have stockouts and untidy shelves, generating a sense among customers that no one cares.
Increasingly, executives need to spend time in stores and connect with employees and shoppers to understand the root causes of those problems. Successful retail leaders are all “fluent in floor.” They can discuss stockout rates, they have a good sense of how customers move through stores, and they know (through firsthand experience) how products are sorted, packed, and loaded at the distribution center, and how they are unloaded, unpacked, and stocked at the stores.
Big performance gains are possible when executives are ready and willing to drive an integrated store-first change program. Efforts address operational issues and may also require a new cultural paradigm that motivates employees to deliver results because they want to—not merely because they’re told to. The results include increases in store traffic—and consistent profitability. Customers invariably appreciate cleaner and tidier stores with neat, well-stocked shelves, up-to-date price tags, more compelling product displays, and more helpful employees.