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Bringing visibility into facilities management

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

When customers decide where to shop, they consider cleanliness and store safety just as much as price, merchandise variety and ease of store navigation.

However, as retailers rely on third parties to manage their facilities’ maintenance and repairs, oftentimes tasks are not completed accurately — according to agreement criteria — or might be overlooked altogether. By adopting an automated facilities management solution, retailers can maintain the highest level of cleanliness and safety without stretching their already razor-thin margins.

Retailers, especially those that manage equipment needed to chill or heat fresh merchandise, must keep their facilities and supporting equipment in tiptop condition if they want to increase revenue and keep shrink levels low. For many, the optimal decision is to outsource these operations to “experts in the field.”

However, where retailers struggle is having visibility into the specific tasks being tackled or managed and accountability that all tasks covered in service-level agreement (SLA) contracts are being met. For example, companies want visibility — and a proverbial “paper trail” — into whether SLA partners are maintaining facilities in an adequate and frequent manner. Ensuring that these two factors are met, retailers can uphold the highest possible level of appearance and hygiene, and maintain their reputation in the marketplace.

Meanwhile, companies also want to be sure that if an issue does occur — whether it’s the breakdown of equipment or a simple spill in a store aisle — the situation is addressed as a matter of keeping employees and customers safe.

However, maintaining these partnerships and operations with manual processes makes it difficult to validate work orders and compliance levels. Some retailers still manage these processes with paper-based checklists shared between SLA staffers and facility managers — a process that only makes data stale by the time it gets into managers’ hands.

“While some companies attempt to speed up the process with emails, messages can still get lost in the shuffle or spam filters, making information obsolete by the time companies are ready to address issues,” said Chris Kampfe, VP of Marketing at GoSpotCheck.

A new level of visibility

The time has come for a new approach: a solution that is managed via mobile devices. When using the facilities management module from GoSpotCheck, for example, retailers can analyze detailed data from maintenance checks, site audits and janitorial inspections. By blending images, text notifications and reporting capabilities, retailers will be empowered to understand potential customer issues, troubleshoot maintenance problems and even identify training deficiencies.

For example, the solution’s “photo album” enables users to snap and organize location or category pictures using filterable analytics — such as date, site, building, area type and other tagged criteria — overlaid on top of each image. Meanwhile, by enabling alerts and follow-up notifications, users receive alerts when an audit response matches important filter criteria. Follow-up actions are sent when additional effort must be taken to resolve an issue in the field.

Finally, a mobile reporting solution makes customizable charts and graphs accessible from any mobile device. Advanced filters break down reported data by customer, building and area type, among other specifications. Armed with this information, managers get a real-time view of their site’s performance — a move that eliminates ground-level blind spots.

All three pieces also keep retailers with a vast footprint to stay on top of potential issues regardless of where stores or distribution centers may be located. By logging into the mobile app, users have the ability to stay abreast of facilities and performance and address any potential issues in real time — using real-time evidence as a guideline.

“Having this data at their fingertips can ensure that stores and distribution centers are in compliance of cleanliness and other safety standards — a factor that not only minimizes risk, but reduces exposure to liabilities, especially those caused by potentially litigious slip and fall incidents,” Kampfe said. “With real-time visibility into these operations, retailers can be sure that all contracts are being fulfilled, and waste and excess labor is being reduced — all of which result in a cost-savings for the company.”

Once retailers have integrated the automated solution into their service agreements, they can begin to expand its functionality. For example, Kampfe envisions a time when the mobile solution can be linked to “connected” systems powered by Internet of Things devices as a means of monitoring their performance.

These could include connected soap dispensers or paper towel holders. The sensors would alert managers when soap or paper levels are low, and the solution would automatically deploy a work order to SLA contractors.

The sensors can also be used to capture foot traffic throughout a facility, department or restroom. Having this data on hand, contractors or janitors could pinpoint problem areas instantly.

“This integration would enable SLA contractors to use resources when most needed, which will drive efficiency when addressing issues,” Kampfe said. “With real-time information filtered from a sensor, users can go to a specific location that is experiencing an issue, from cleaning an unkept bathroom to tending to a spill or leaking pipe.”

In the end, an automated facilities management solution is a proactive way of keeping retailers in the know and, most importantly, delivering the clean and safe facilities that customers are demanding.

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Five Winning Cross-Channel Strategies for CPG

BY Cindy Irons, Listrak

Consumer Packaged Goods companies are navigating a time where eCommerce is growing more popular than in-store experiences. But when your business model and KPIs are tied to store shelf sales, how can you get your foot in the door?

CPG marketers must go “beyond the shelf” – whether they offer on-site commerce or not – and deploy a strong cross-channel presence through store, website, email and social. This reflects the cross-channel nature of today’s shoppers and their demand for real-time connectivity.

Here are five simple strategies that drive acquisition, engagement, loyalty, revenue and subject matter expertise:

1. On-Site Email Acquisition
Every marketer knows that building and maintaining a healthy list of subscribers is critical to the success of any email campaign. In fact, the email address is more valuable than ever, as it is quickly becoming the key cross-channel customer identifier. With that being said, an easy way to build your email list is through an on-site pop-up when customers visit your site. Pop-ups are customized to reflect your brand and work with your site. You can control timing, placement and cadence so the pop-up appears when and where you want it.

2. Welcome Series
Once the customer has signed up through your pop-up, you can welcome your subscribers with a series of triggered, personalized email messages. Combining on-site acquisition with a triggered welcome series is a strategy that will greatly increase both engagement and revenue. Each message of the series is another chance to engage the subscribers with new content and messaging, giving you the opportunity to capture additional customer data that you can use to tailor future messages.

3. Content Personalization / Predictive
After collecting customer data, you can send relevant, personalized content targeted to customers with predictive content. Predictive content takes all your content like videos, tutorials, blog posts, articles, recipes and guides and delivers them – automatically – to the right consumer at the right time to engage consumers and build long term relationships. Because content is determined through predictive analytics, each message is aimed at specific customers, creating a truly customized experience. This activity keeps appropriate CPG products prominent, while encouraging their use and likelihood of repurchase.

4. Lifecycle Management
Following a customer purchase, it is extremely important to keep consumers engaged. By sending personalized messages designed to convert again, you are increasing loyalty, preventing lapsed buying behavior and re-engaging consumers that represent the most value to your brand. What’s more, is that with the use of machine learning, you can predict likely purchase behavior and reach back to customers that purchased consumable products when it is time to replenish their merchandise. With that, you can include recommended products tailored to the recipient that will enhance the experience of products that are bought in-store or online.

5. Build an Educational Hub
For CPG entities whose sites are not used to driving eCommerce business, the strategies above can still be put to good use to leverage your site as an educational outlet and to establish market thought-leadership. A product resource center and resource-based cross-channel campaigns can improve your customer lifecycle by driving shoppers back to the store based on the content you share. CPG brands can also drive site traffic by adding a registration card or a URL on brand packaging to promote their resource center and drive back customers to the site to subscribe.

With cross-channel capabilities, marketers can reach customers at every possible touch point. By delivering personalized communication, you can keep your products and brands top-of-mind, drive acquisition, loyalty and organically establish your expertise while creating a seamless experience beyond the store shelf.

About the Author
Cindy Irons is Director of Marketing Operations for Listrak.

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