Retailers are turning to technology to create a great customer experience, but success still hinges on a culture that helps in-store associates thrive.
Twice a year, technology provider Multimedia Plus invites clients to visit its New York headquarters to share best practices, visit with colleagues and participate in a roundtable discussion about trends in the retail industry.
MMP’s flagship product is its INCITE Mobile Associate Communications Platform (mACP), a digital training tool that leverages tablet technology to deliver multimedia communications and video without streaming, while at the same time delivering real-time metrics for visibility into participation and completion by field managers.
The company’s spring roundtable featured activities designed to get attendees thinking about what’s happening in retail in terms of statistics and training, along with a session on microlearning and its impact on the retail experience.
But the highlight of the event was a talk by Kevin Finnegan, VP of Stores with Ann Factory/ Loft Outlet, on what’s happening in the retail world today. Finnegan is a seasoned executive with more than 20 years’ experience contributing to the vision and strategy of retail and customer facing technology companies, ranging from startups to those with more than $1 billion in annual revenue.
“Kevin is one of the most inspiring leaders I've ever met,” said Jodi Harouche, chief creative officer with Multimedia Plus. “He has such a passion for developing people and he took time out to share with the group his thought process and his inspiration on what's happening in the field.”
It starts at the store
Finnegan has visited countless malls, strip centers, lifestyle developments and other shopping environments in his years in the retail industry, and there’s one thing each experience has in common: He can walk into any store and tell within two minutes whether or not it will be a good visit.
It always comes back to one thing, Finnegan said. The leadership team is what defines the DNA of an organization.
“Not just a store manager, but the rest of the leadership team; what they believe in, the culture that they've established within the four walls of their store and the value that they put on their organizations,” Finnegan said.
“To me, it's about taking the organizational chart and turning it upside down,” he said. “I view it that I worked for my stores, my district managers worked for stores and the other regionals worked for stores. It's not the other way around.”
The retail management structure isn’t a silo where information and direction come down from headquarters and it's left to the stores to put that direction into practice. Instead, it’s about making the jobs of store-level personnel easier and putting them in a position where they can be as successful as possible.
“I can't tell you the number of times over the years I've seen a store that was not performing,” Finnegan said.
“You make a management change and it almost immediately gives you as much as a 10- or 15-point improvement,” he said. “Same building, same merchandise, same location. The one thing that's changed is the leader at the helm and that person's ability to rally a team behind them.”
And while many operators are turning to technology as a way to improve the in-store experience, technology alone isn’t the answer. Instead, it’s the associates who use that technology.
“At the end of the day it's going to come back to the quality and the caliber of the people that you have on the floor,” Finnegan said.
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Finnegan’s insights served as a tremendous motivation to those at the roundtable.
“Being part of a group like this is amazing,” Harouche said. “It's inspiring to see colleagues and friends come together in a mutually beneficial environment.”
The Multimedia Plus team is always thrilled to be among those who know the benefits of investing in their associates and are passionate about the people on whom their success depends. If you're interested in attending one of MMP’s future events, join the MMP roundtable community on LinkedIn. To learn more about what INCITE can do for you, email email@example.com or call 212-982-3229.
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