10 Ideas to Improve Internal Communications for Retailers
There is an existing communication gap between corporate and store-level employees in the retail industry. So how can we bridge this gap and improve internal communication for brick and mortar retailers?
Retail Internal Communications
According to Gatehouse’s latest edition of the State of the Sector report, one of the main barriers to successful internal communications is connecting hard-to-reach employees. Over 40% of global respondents say that they find difficulties sharing information with non-desk-based or non-wired staff. In the retail industry, this barrier is even more noticeable considering the increased number of frontline and in-store workers.
Internal communication can be very straightforward for employees working at the office. They sit down, check their emails, read the headlines and the news board; they are often one click away from their source of information. However, it’s often more difficult for frontline workers. They mostly rely on face-to-face communication with their manager, colleagues, suppliers, and clients.
In retail top-down and cross-channel communications, messages can be easily misinterpreted due to the increased number of stops from origin to destination. Information gets lost, added, and lost again until you end up with a message totally unrelated to the original. This creates the perfect circumstances for broken telephone-like communications. You remember playing this whisper game as a kid, right?
Retail Internal comms can easily turn into a game of broken telephone, but organizations can’t risk breaking information flow.
So, we identified 10 ideas to help you improve internal communications within your organization.
1. Prepare a Solid Internal Communications Plan
One of the biggest mistakes any internal communications manager operating in the retail industry can make is having no internal communication plan. Retailers rely greatly on local managers to provide corporate information to employees in stores all around the world. Presenting a solid plan will allow managers to focus on delivering key messages and applying business objectives while using the most efficient channels and talking to the right audiences. Of course, having a plan is useless without proper implementation, so you need to make sure local management is on board and ready to work towards common goals.
2. Choose the Right Information
Retail managers can sometimes overwhelm employees with information, as they are constantly on the go. But in some cases, less information is better than too much information. For retail internal communication, the best solution is not less information but more targeted information. Before sharing a message think about what your employees “need” to know and how you can simplify the information. Evaluate each message you receive from headquarters before you transfer it to your teams. That way, you are sure to provide the most useful and direct professional communications.
3. Define a Single Point of Communication
Another way to avoid a “broken telephone” situation is to create a single point of communication. In large companies, employees receive emails, text, notifications, and newsletters from many different sources. But in retail stores, employees have limited access to connected devices, which keeps them from staying informed. A good practice is to have one person, usually the local director or manager, that can be responsible for the flow of information.
4. Leverage Your Corporate Intranet
Modern digital workplace platforms are built to facilitate employee communication and connect people everywhere. This is extremely useful in the retail industry. Within the digital workplace, managers and executives have the power to communicate with multiple groups simultaneously while reducing the time for communicating the information. A widely used tool for distributing internal communications is a corporate intranet platform. When retailers use intranets, they can reduce the noise and ensure that the right message is delivered to the right group of frontline workers. Using an intranet for retail also adds value to peer-to-peer communication and allows store employees to share customer feedback as soon as they receive it.
5. Retails Calls for Mobile
Today, 70% of employees are working without desks. In order to reach everybody, especially in the dispersed retail business, proper communication should be mobile. Store employees need to be connected, so what better way than using the device they all have in their pockets?
6. Benefit from Notifications
Once mobile devices are part of your internal communication strategy, don’t forget about notifications. There are various ways to deliver information through notification: in-app notifications, push notifications, intranet notifications and alerts, social media, and even SMS and MMS. All of the above-mentioned tools should be consistent and measured.
7. Consistent Internal Communication
The key to providing transparency and improving retail internal communications is being consistent. Make sure that employees know how they can reach out and which channels you are using to communicate certain messages. Establish a clear differentiation between the methods of delivering corporate news and everyday updates. Creating a weekly newsletter with the latest regional updates, for example, is an excellent way to target information while being consistent.
8. Frequent Internal Communication
Often, retail employees are not working the regular 9 to 5 shifts, so timing and frequency of communication are crucial. Be ready with a cadence that follows the natural workday of your employees. For example, send out a weekly newsletter early in the morning. This way, even employees working the early shifts can read it before starting work. Organize your monthly or weekly team meetings between two shifts so everyone can be present. This consistency in timing helps to accustom in your employees for when and where to check for information.
9. Encourage Employee Advocacy
You might be surprised, but employee advocacy can also improve internal communication and at the same time benefit your social awareness. With the use of a mobile-friendly employee social advocacy tool, you can share information with your employees and once they consume the information, they can also click and share with their networks. Imagine you want to announce that there will be a discount week in a given region. Once you make the news available on an employee advocacy dashboard, employees will be able to spread the word and drive more customers to participate in stores. All this can happen during their commute or even during the weekend because once you’ve created strong brand ambassadors, they will be ready to spread positive messages at any time.
10. Celebrate Employee Accomplishments
The most important detail of any retail internal communication strategy is to show employees that they are valued. They are the first contact with your customers so you have to make sure that they know how essential they are for the business. No matter how big or small, retailers need to take initiative to create a happy and productive work environment by celebrating employees on a regular basis.
Brand Content Writer
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Why You Need an Internal Communication Plan