The Importance of Great Communication in Retail

Retail Communications April 26, 2021


If you think you have an execution problem because your stores aren’t following the instructions that HQ sends out…. you actually may have a communication problem.

What is retail communication?

Store Communications – sometimes referred to as Retail Communications or Field Communications – is the internal communication that happens between a retailer’s headquarters and store teams. In the broadest sense, it’s “how HQ tells stores what they need to do.”

As the industry experiences major shifts in customer expectations and shopping habits, retailers have been reinventing their products, brands, and store environments. But actually executing those huge changes is extremely difficult. What you may not know yet, however, is that what is getting in the way of store execution is actually poor communication. 

In retail, big, revenue-driving ideas only matter if they’re correctly executed in the stores. The link between HQ’s ideas and in-store execution is Store Communication.

Why is communication in retail so important?

Communication is the train that brings initiatives from headquarters into stores where execution happens. If the track is broken, nothing gets to stores. Most of the retailers we meet with are focused on solving their execution problem, but they are merely focusing on the symptom, not the cause, which is communication.

At Zipline, we know first-hand that communication is the conduit for enabling better brand experiences. Sure, it’s not as sexy as a new marketing or advertising campaign, but it’s crucial for brick-and-mortar retailers to set themselves apart from their online counterparts.  

Every day, there are countless decisions being made at your corporate headquarters: You have teams working around the clock to navigate product pricing, promotion, and advertising, and even evaluating what receipt paper vendor to chose. 

Every single one of these decisions has tangible impacts on stores. It may impact how they merchandise products, how managers schedule their employee shifts, how they set up their window displays, and what they say to customers when they’re greeted at the door. So when one of these decisions is made, stores need to know about it. 

Why internal communication is important

How many times have you heard that your stores just “didn’t get the memo?” Are your retail headquarters left guessing how many stores actually did the things they were asked to do?

We find that successful retailers provide their frontline staff with the tools they need to do their job. Store teams should understand what they need to do and why it’s so important. Innovative and aligned retail organizations have ways to keep track of the work and provide the context behind the message. 

As retail companies rebrand to accommodate the constantly evolving state of the industry—online sales, new technology, changing consumer expectations, etc.—they will need to find ways to innovate. Once they do, communication will need to become even more clear and effective in order for stores to carry out the new brand’s identity.

What’s more is that employee engagement and communication tools can result in so many benefits beyond just better execution. Empowering frontline workers can increase retention, improve customer experiences, increase revenue, streamline processes, and increase efficiencies. 

Communication with Customers is also important

The store is not just the place to make a transaction or close a sale. The physical brick-and-mortar store is the focal point for marketing and interacting with customers. The average customer spending triples in store compared to online.

So what’s the key to improving customer satisfaction and brand loyalty? 

You guessed it- retail communication. As customers find new reasons to frequent your stores, your frontline workers are the ambassadors that create memorable shopping experiences. You can only deliver an elevated experience to your shoppers by empowering store associates with relevant, correct, and executable direction and information to exceed customer expectations. If stores can consistently change and adapt to consumer preferences in real-time, the brands that are the most agile will win.

How You Can Improve Your Internal Retail Communication

If your stores have a communication problem, you aren’t alone. In fact, only 29% of directions sent from HQ to stores are actually executed correctly. Most of your store teams and frontline workers simply haven’t been given the tools and information they need to be successful. Fortunately, there is a solution for improving both employee engagement and customer experience.

Equipping your team with the right tools means providing them enough information (and context) to know how they can be the voice of your brand when they interact with your customers. Help them to prioritize the countless tasks at hand, become educators, foster a sense of community, and create each customer experience into something more memorable than just a transaction.

This all comes down to having technology that is built with a real understanding of the challenges and inner workings of retail. Retail Zipline is the only operations platform for brick-and-mortar retail brands that combines store communications and task management to drive flawless store execution.

Setting up your people for success involves providing them with robust communication tools. That way, they can understand company strategy as well as their role in accomplishing it; ask questions and give feedback; and share team accomplishments. Retail Zipline’s store communication solution can do all of those things and more.

Check out our blog to read about how other retailers are keeping up through innovation, or get in touch today to set up a demo.