AI in Retail: Beyond The Hype and Into Reality for Store Operations.
The term "AI" is often thrown around, but what does it really mean?
The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating a shift to remote management for retailers, restaurants and other multi-site businesses. Two months ago, you could have spotted America’s three million managers on the move, weaving in and out of airports, car rental branches, hotel lobbies and office car parks. Now many are confined to their home offices. And, even as the economy reopens, they intend to stay there.
The manager’s role is to direct and coach their team to deliver business performance. And to do that they need visibility of how the business and their team are doing, and early warning about any issues. For decades, managers have gathered that information in person by visiting their teams. (My friend, Alice, who runs a large restaurant business, calls this “management by looking around”). At the end of each visit, they’ve typically sat down with team members, coached them to take some improvement actions, written down the action plan in a notebook, and left. They have tended to repeat this cycle every few weeks.
For decades management was this in-person, feet-on-the-ground activity. But that was already changing before the pandemic. In fact, 47% of managers surveyed before COVID-19 hit said they sometimes worked from home. So why was remote working starting to take hold?
COVID-19 is accelerating that shift to remote management. Travel bans, health concerns, and furloughed staff mean that most managers are now working from home. And they, and their companies, are getting used to it. (Remember that it only takes 66 days, on average, to embed a new habit).
In the last month, I’ve interviewed 40 executives in the Retail and Restaurant sectors. Nearly all believe that, as the economy reopens, managers will need to continue to visit stores and restaurants regularly to inspire, reassure and assess their teams. However, they also think that can happen less often: for example, at Dollar General, District Managers only conduct an in-depth scheduled visit every 6 weeks or so. And they hope that by embracing data and technology they will be able to provide better day-to-day direction and coaching of their teams remotely.
In practice, many managers are finding that today’s technology isn’t up to the job. The schematic below explains why…
The capabilities we’ve historically developed for in-person management don’t translate well to a remote world:
At Quorso, we’re building a platform to address these pains and the many others that managers experience as they embrace remote management. To do that, we unify the layers of management in the visual above – bringing together your data, actions, team and KPIs in a single, easy-to-use application.
I’d love to know how COVID-19 is affecting management in your business. If you’re a manager, please take 10 seconds to answer this poll question:
What are you finding hardest about remote management?