As vice president of sales for TRUNO, I’m constantly thinking about how we can improve the lives of store operators. My passion for helping retailers solve challenges is a direct result of my own career in the industry. I know first-hand the thoughts that keep a store operator up at night, but I also know how the proper retail technology can help them sleep easier.
A Long Career in Retail Means Deeper Understanding
I have been in retail one way or another since 1978. I started as a bagger in a retail grocery store and worked my way through just about every department, including the meat market, bakery, receiving, and cash office. I continued working in grocery to put myself through college, where I earned a degree in organization and behavioral management.
From there, I took the title of store director for a regional retail chain in Houston, Texas, where I worked for 18 years. After that, I went to work for a grocery wholesaler in Houston, where I helped retailers’ IT departments install back office solutions and consulted in with store operators on retail systems for nearly a decade.
All these experiences led me to join TRUNO. Over the past 12 years, I’ve grown along with the company into the role I hold now. My experience both on the floor and in the back office has uniquely armed me to understand and help solve the problems store owners and operators face.
The Challenges of a Store Operator
When a store manager is faced with stagnate or slipping sales, the two areas they look at first are controllable expenses and shrink. Food waste and loss in perishable departments can have a significant impact on the next profit and loss statement. Therefore, retailers are constantly looking for ways to reduce fresh food shrinkage through accurate sales forecasting.
A report from NPD found that 80 percent of meals were prepared and eaten in home last year. At the same time, it showed that meals made from scratch have declined over the last three years and are expected to continue to decline. Today, in-home meals consist of a blend of homemade dishes and items purchased ready-to-eat. That puts added pressure on the produce and fresh-prepared food departments to minimize shrink.
Secondly, a dip in sales will make an operator take a hard look at one of the largest controllable expenses in a store – labor. Unless sales consistently trend upward, it’s going to become increasingly difficult to afford the rising cost of labor. The industry is seeing starting pay at tier one national retailers between $11.00 and $14.00 per hour. Managing labor is difficult enough as it is, but with the unemployment rates hovering around 4 percent, the labor pool is not nearly as big as it was just five years ago.
How Retail Technology Can Help
Today, successful retailers are learning how to navigate these trends by transforming their stores through innovative technology. Grocers are now offering meal kits, home delivery, and mobile checkout. Retailers are renovating the front end of the store with the addition of self checkouts, leveraging data analytics in the back office, and adding technology throughout the store to improve customer experience and the bottom line.
Take the benefits of adding self checkout, for example. Between 60 and 70 percent of all retail grocery sales are 10 items or fewer. A four-unit self checkout system takes about the same space as two conventional checkout lanes, yet only requires a single employee. The goal is to move 35 to 50 percent of smaller orders through the self checkout lanes so that the conventional grocery lanes can handle the larger, usually more profitable orders. This way customers receive better service all around.
Another way the point of sale can help retailers innovate is through integration with business intelligence tools. This technology allows store operators to drill down into sales data and make better decisions about ordering—hopefully reducing shrink. It also helps them maximize their promotional strategy planning for higher margin returns.
Sales data can also be leveraged within labor management. Sophisticated labor management software and sales forecasting provides the strongest tools in optimizing labor spend. With TRUNO’s TimeForge scheduling solution, retailers can predict sales within 98.6% accuracy, so they can better understand how to staff each department and how to manage inventory.
One solution that can help reduce both labor costs and shrink is the use of electronic shelf labels. Back in my day, we would maybe handle between 2,000 to 4,000 price changes on a Monday and another 2,000 price changes on a Wednesday. Follow that up with 1,000 more changes on a Thursday and Friday, and you're talking about nearly 10,000 price changes every week. That requires a lot of labor, not to mention material costs. But with digital signage, stores can make all those changes instantaneously in minutes. It also enables a dynamic pricing strategy to help combat labor costs and increase profitability through faster management of cost changes.
The greatest results are seen when all of these solutions come together to improve customer experience and protect the bottom line—putting the store operators mind at ease. At TRUNO, we have experts in each of these solutions, as well as a strong understanding of how they best work together. We can help identify the right solutions for your store and help you integrate them into existing systems.
Looking for a partner to help you get started with this technology in your store? The TRUNO Professional Service team is here to help with implementation today.