Almost everything is measurable and comparable in retail stores but the benefits only come through understanding the implications and the opportunities that lay within the many depths of the powerpoint charts and excel graphs.
Firstly, benchmarking should not be blind but focused on areas of commercial opportunity and the improvement of sales, profit and customer experience KPIs. So as much experience is required in knowing what to compare and measure, and knowing how to measure and compare, as in the final interpretation.
Space planning & visual merchandising are both essential facets of the commercial and creative store experience and need to be measured intelligently and in an integrated way. The challenge is that whilst space is largely quantitative by nature, visual merchandising is a more qualitative science where the success of emotional delivery needs to be translated into definite numbers.
Making the emotional measurable must also be put into the context of each retailers brand, proposition and assortment because where some emotional elements may be essential to one retailers emotional and commercial success it may not have the same relevance to another.
All benchmarking must therefore be based on a fundamental understanding of what the strategic and commercial objectives are, and what essential elements in a store design and the wider customer experience are most important to communicate those strategic objectives to the customer. At a broad level some retailers rely more on visual display whilst others rely more on customer service but within each side of the service equation are a myriad of delivery details whose priority needs to be identified and their effectiveness analysed.
In many cases this relevance to brand and commerciality is a lost consideration in the pure analysis of “how are we doing everything compared to others”
The first question of benchmarking is to know what is important to a retailer’s store experience and sales before assessing whether it is being delivered well.
It’s the reason why benchmarking and analysis cannot be separated from retail expertise and experience. Benefitting from numbers is only achieved through knowing why you are looking at something and the relative benefits of improving it.
In summary, benchmarking and analytics should never be the proverbial looking for a needle in a haystack, but firstly the selection of the relevant handfuls of hay to look at and then the expert understanding of how the different parameters of that hay “stack-up” (exclude the pun) and ultimately what that means to any individual client.
In the most successful retail businesses everyone is a retailer! From IT to finance, merchandising to marketing, store design to shelf stackers everyone needs to be a retailer in heart as well as head. Never is this more applicable to retail analysts.
It’s also important that all analysis and subsequent strategic and commercial decisions come from looking both outwards at the market, as well as just looking inwards at a client’s performance and efficiency parameters.
VM-unleashed has developed a process of competitor benchmarking, looking at store experiences from both outside and inside, ensuring that the relevant store facets are measured in priority and that opportunities are identified in priority. From store square metres to display density, from square metre to linear metre conversion to fixture linear metres, from different display techniques, to product grouping, from price communication to POS density, from folded to hanging, from volume to image makers, we measure only what’s important to any retailer and recommend improvement that lead to the easiest and most important KPI improvements.
Don’t wake with a hopeful heart of a haystack gazer but with the determined reassurance of discriminate examination.
We benchmark and analyse with the hearts and minds of retail experts to find the “quality from quantities!” that any retailer needs.
If you would like to learn more about our benchmarking process and the specific benefits we have delivered for clients then please take a further look, drop us a line.
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