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Are Your Retail Teams Wasting Time on the Wrong Tasks?

6 min read
Dec 2, 2022 10:17:40 AM

Passion drives the retail industry. Whether it’s passion for products, passion for people, or passion for your brand’s mission, one fact remains constant: Noone chooses a career in the retail industry in hopes of being mired in repetitive clerical work. Yet clerical work is exactly what costs non customer-facing retail employees 20% or more of their time each week.

Repetitive tasks that could be automated cost businesses an estimated $1.8 trillion each year. That number is even higher in retail. Buyers, manufacturers, suppliers, the C-suite, and store managers need to communicate about products in real time. When your retail business suffers from delays in communication, it creates corresponding delays in productivity.

In this article, we’ll highlight the retail verticals where unnecessary clerical work is wasting time and profits. We’ll also show you how to position your employees to avoid the clerical work kerfluffle, for a more productive, passion-driven, and profitable retail business.

Let’s identify where unanticipated clerical tasks arise 

Clerical work is difficult to eradicate because it’s difficult to identify where the bulk of it is taking place. Most suppliers and retailers consider it the norm for employees to spend one to two days a week on data entry. It’s how things have always been done and few are aware that there’s a better way. But there is a better way. 

Here are the five arenas where retail employees waste the most time:

  • Disjointed communication about products throughout ideation and production

Many people are involved in the production process, from product designers to raw materials suppliers, from external stakeholders to the warehouse where products are manufactured. When product notes and data lack a centralized home, employees waste time with back-and-forth emails, Excel sheets, text messages, and more. This can cause production delays on trend sensitive items, where a speedy time-to-market is essential to solidify sales. 

The collaboration and design process requires real time communication. When all of your product data is centralized in one place, it can easily be tweaked, shared, or modified right from the source. The result is a reduction in errors, faster time to market on new products and more full margin sales. 

  • Customizing quotes for every retailer

Every retailer uses a quote form that’s unique to their business model. Sales teams have to manually enter product data onto quotes and order forms for every retailer that considers making a purchase. Most suppliers work with hundreds, if not thousands, of retailers. So, time that could be spent building relationships and viewing products is instead wasted manually entering and re entering data.

Sales teams rarely have all of the information they need to create a quote within their desired timeframe. This can lead to human error, lost product information, and missed opportunities. It’s hard for buyers to visualize a buy from just a spreadsheet to identify assortment gaps or over-assortments. The excitement of the product gets lost in the process. There’s a better way.

  • Entering and re-entering information across multiple eCommerce sites

Product orders aren’t the only things retail teams need to customize. Each eCommerce site also comes with its own unique specifications for data entry. Most retail businesses force employees to manually enter thousands of products onto hundreds of retail websites… which helps explain why there’s a turnover issue in the retail industry.

What skilled retail worker wants to spend 20% of their time or more manually entering product data across thousands of ecommerce sites?  Surefront discovered a better way.

Retail teams can now use Surefront product development software to automate their product syndication process. By that we mean you can instantly customize product listings for hundreds of different websites. No more migrating data between systems at each stage of the game. Remove additional days from the listing process with automatic syndication to get on-trend products to market faster. Get ready to save 90 minutes per product listing on each eCommerce platform where you have an online presence.

  • Chasing down decentralized product information and imagery

85% of shoppers say that product information and pictures are important to them when making purchasing decisions. However, we rarely talk about the importance of internal and external collaborators being able to access that same information. Buyers and suppliers need more in depth product information than consumers. When retail teams depend on Excel docs, text threads, emails and image attachments to communicate, time and opportunities are wasted. 

Like most PLM solution providers, Surefront keeps all of your product information in one place. But Surefront’s SmartCatalog feature takes visual workflows a step further, allowing buyers, suppliers, and retailers to chat about products right on the product image. Your team doesn’t have to waste time finding product images. Instead, they can add  “sticky notes” to any product image in our centralized database. No more forgetting what product you’re talking about. No more image attachments. Just the power of robust product visuals behind every single sales conversation.

  • Verifying product details with external partners

You have your product in-stock and you’re ready to list it, but you need to verify a specific product detail with your manufacturers. Your email gets lost in their inbox and it takes them weeks to get back to you. By the time you can confirm the details and list the product, it’s no longer trending. So you end up putting the product on sale after a short-lived, unsuccessful attempt at full price selling. Sound familiar? 

What if you could verify product details in a fraction of the time? Surefront product lifecycle management software lets you set tasks for anyone within or outside of your organization. Need to know how many product iterations are available? Great! Just ping your supplier for an answer the next time they log on. With Surefront, it takes minutes to do tasks that took weeks before adopting our retail PLM. 

Employees that interface with external partners on a regular basis are often the most afflicted by repetitive clerical tasks. The most skilled professionals in the retail industry –– buyers, suppliers, and product manufacturers –– are those that interface with external stakeholders the most. Don’t want the most skilled professionals within your organization to waste time on unnecessary clerical tasks? Then you’ll want to make implementing a retail PLM solution a cornerstone of your 2023 strategy. 

A retail PLM will help retailers and suppliers get their time back. But that’s not the only benefit of reducing unnecessary clerical tasks. Retail PLMs also address one of the biggest issues plaguing the retail industry: ye olde dreaded employee turnover. 

The downfalls of clerical work extend beyond your bottom line

Retail employees aren’t clerical workers. They do not aspire to be clerical workers. Even the most engaged employee can quickly become unmotivated when their day-to-day workflow consists of unnecessary clerical tasks. Yet that’s exactly what’s happening in multiple retail verticals. Employees spend an average of 520 hours a year (over a full day of work each week) on unnecessary clerical tasks. This wasted time in spreadsheets takes away from time that could be spent with products or, better yet, with customers. 

From production teams to buyers, from the C-suite to the frontline, retail teams that operate without a product lifecycle management solution face hiring and retention challenges. Requiring teams to complete unnecessary clerical work can add to these hiring and retention challenges, which include: turnover, reduced productivity, reduced job satisfaction, silent quitting, and chipping away at the passion that the retail industry runs on.

While hiring and retention absolutely affects your bottom line, it also affects employee morale. Silent quitting, i.e. employees doing the bare minimum, is a phenomenon impacting multiple industries. In the passion-driven retail industry, it’s particularly important to keep employees engaged. 

Product lifecycle management software offers innovative solutions

Retail leaders can be put off by the cost of implementing a product lifecycle management system. However, that cost  is quickly exceeded by the benefits of a retail PLM, such as: improved employee retention, increased production, speed to market, and a reduction in clerical work.

Surefront product lifecycle management software gives retail teams 20% or more of their time back. No more expecting buyers and suppliers to do clerical work. Just better functioning, fully equipped retail organizations. Ready to learn how much adopting Surefront product lifecycle management solution can help your business’s bottom line? Try our 10x ROI calculator to see the potential profits for yourself. 

Or, skip the noise and get directly in touch with our sales team to learn more about the benefits of a true retail PLM.  Surefront’s product lifecycle management solution was built by a retailer to service the retail industry’s unique needs. It’s time we got better acquainted. Book a custom demo with one of our product lifecycle management experts today!

Product lifecycle management is a quickly evolving industry with a lot of moving parts. We do all of the research, so you don’t have to. Stay ahead of news & trends by subscribing to our Product Lifecycle Management Blog.

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