September 15, 2016

The value of standardization and consistency in retail

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There are certain retail chains that, from a customer experience perspective, do consistency extremely well. If customers have only ever been to one location and then visit a second, they aren’t met with any unwelcome surprises – just the stability of visiting a store they already know and love. By contrast, visiting another location of a favorite retailer and finding it poorly-stocked or under-staffed can be a disappointing, disorienting experience for the customer – and can even mar their impression of the original, favorite location.

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Most retailers with multiple store locations put a lot of thought into this sort of front-end consistency. But throughout my years working in retail and observing stores, I’ve seen that it’s rare for stores to standardize their reconciliation practices in the same way. Stores’ environments play a big role in how reconciling and reporting are done.

 

For example, some store locations will have far more cash to contend with and will take a lot longer to complete reporting than other locations. Still other locations may take longer to complete reporting because their cash office hours are scheduled very lean, they rely on bookkeepers to also act as relief cashiers and customer service desk staff, or simply because some staff tend to spend extra time in the office rather than perform other duties.

 

Disparate practices at your locations often evolve – and perpetuate – from years of daily routines passed down from employee to employee, who have developed what they feel is the best way to get corporate the information they need while still accomplishing their other required tasks. When new equipment is implemented or new employees join the team, practices can deviate even further from corporate standards.

 

There are several risks involved when practices vary from store to store:

  • Sending incorrect or incomplete reports
  • Taking too much time to complete reconciliation and reports, causing staff to run out of time for other duties
  • Making judgment calls on deposits, change orders, or how to handle exceptions
  • Exposing the store to loss by holding too much cash

 

You can’t be at every store yourself to observe and enforce practices, so correcting these problems without changing anything else is nearly impossible. By automating and standardizing processes, you can enforce compliance on issues like:

  • The order in which processes are completed
  • The amount that should be used to rebuild a register
  • How much cash and coin to deposit
  • How long it should take to reconcile
  • When reports are due to corporate each day

 

When these operations are standardized as best practice across locations, stores can experience increased compatibility, interoperability and efficiency, while corporate can rest assured that every location is compliant, consistent and following standards.